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Kangaroos at the snow? Take a day trip to Australia’s High Country.

You might find it hard to believe but it does actually snow in Australia. We even have ski fields. Granted, it’s nothing like the Alps of Europe or the Rockies of North America, but that’s exactly why you should put it on your Australian to do list.

Our alpine region is home to a unique variety of flora and fauna found nowhere else in Australia.  There’s really nothing like the beauty of seeing snow on gumtrees. You may even be lucky enough to see a wombat burrowing in the snow or the occasional kangaroo looking a little lost.

Our mountains (perhaps just big hills to some of you from the Northern hemisphere) are located in NSW and Victoria and some can easily be visited on a day trip by helicopter so you can discover our little winter wonderland down under.

Here are a few facts about snow in Australia

The Australian Alps receive more snow than Switzerland!

The world’s longest continuously running ski club is in Australia (Kiandra Pioneer Ski Club).

Mount Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest mountain stretches to 2,228 metres above sea-level.

Mt Buller is one of the busiest ski resorts in Victoria and only 3 1/2 hours drive away (or 1 hour helicopter ride) from Melbourne. With 22 lifts and around 80 kilometres of ski and snowboard terrain, this resort is open from early June to mid September each year, depending on the snow. There are even dog sled tours!

Mt Hotham, a Victorian ski resort in the Great Dividing Range, is upside down. The ski in / ski out accomodation is nestled at the top of the mountain not the bottom so when you ski out, you head straight down, not to the chair lift.

Perisher in in the heart of the Snowy Mountains in NSW is the largest ski resort in the Southern hemisphere.

Snow in Australia at an old settler hut on Mt Bogong
An old settler hut on Mt Bogong

A snow-shoe safari at Mt Sterling

Only an hour’s chopper ride from the centre of Melbourne takes you to Victoria’s High Country where you’ll discover the alpine wonderland and snow in Australia. On route, you’ll get an incredible sense of the vastness of the country.

As you take flight out of Melbourne, passing through our vibrant and creative city you’ll see just how flat the surrounding landscape is, with only a few dots of elevation to be seen – the Dandenong Ranges to the East, and the You Yangs and Grampians far to the West.

The scenery changes as we approach our destination – Mt Sterling a nature lover’s winter paradise. With no lift system, recreational activities consist mainly of snow shoeing and cross-country skiing, and is a great way to be immersed in the Australian snow.

 

We land at the famous “Craig’s Hut”as featured in “The Man from Snowy River” movie. After some short refreshments, you’ll be kitted out with snowshoes for an incredible guided snow safari through wintery bushland.

Upon return, a  delicious catered feast, complete with High Country wines and mountain tales await you, and you’ll have time to explore and be photographed with this icon of the High Country.

On your final leg we fly over the Mt Buller Alpine Resort so you can see an Australian ski field in action before heading back to Melbourne.

Note: This experience is weather dependent and available May to October and snow coverage cannot be guaranteed.

A wallaby in the snow in Australia
A wallaby in the snow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Itinerary: Wildlife in Legendary Landscapes of Australia

SUGGESTED MONTHS: MAY, JUNE, JULY, AUGUST, SEPTEMBER, OCTOBER.

It is fitting that Australia’s most recognised locations are also abundantly rich in wildlife offerings. Beginning in picturesque Sydney Harbour, travellers will witness one of the world’s great animal migrations as Humpback Whales pass by the city’s cliffs. Next is a trip to the spiritual heart of the continent, with highlights seeing Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and Kings Canyon, with this region being particularly abundant in raptor birds and bushbirds.

Venturing north, World Heritage Listed Kakadu National Park is a precious nature reserve covering multiple habitats, boasting a huge concentration of nesting waterbirds, Saltwater Crocodiles, marsupials, reptiles and amphibians. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s great ecological treasures, with Lady Elliot Island being a prime spot to dive and snorkel with Manta Rays, turtles, reef sharks, tropical fish and beautiful hard and soft corals.

Minimum Suggested Nights: 16 nights, plus a couple of nights on arrival and departure from Australia if desired.

Sydney

Departing from one of the world’s most beautiful harbours, guests will board a luxury cruiser led by an experienced guide and crew, to encounter one of the greatest natural migrations in the world. Known for their spectacular acrobatic abilities, seeing Humpback Whales launch out of the ocean with sheer energy is awe-inspiring.

Guides will share key insights on the whales’ behaviour and on many occasions, these majestic and curious creatures will interact with the boat. Combined with Sydney’s stunning coastal backdrop, this cruise is a truly unforgettable experience. Other marine species that may be encountered include Bottlenose Dolphins, Minke Whales and pelagic seabirds including a wide variety of Albatrosses.

Seasonal highlights

Winter: Jun-Aug – Birds

Peak season for viewing albatrosses, petrels and prions. Black-browed, Campbell, Shy, Indian Yellow-nosed, Buller’s, Gibson’s, Grey-headed and Wandering Albatrosses are sighting possibilities. Fairy Prions congregate, Providence, Wilson’s Cape, Northern Giant, Southern Giant Petrels, Brown Skuas, Australasian Gannets, Crested Terns.

Spring: Sep-Nov – Birds

Wedge-tailed, Flesh-footed, Sooty, Hutton’s and Fluttering Shearwaters arrive in significant numbers in September and October. Black-browed, Shy and Indian Yellow-nosed are the most likely albatross encounters. Giant Petrel, Great-winged Petrel and Providence Petrels are also occasionally seen, with Australasian Gannets, Silver Gull and Greater Crested Terns ever present.

Winter: Jun-Aug – Marine Mammals

Humpback Whales head north to give birth and mate in the waters of the Coral Sea, providing plenty of sightings close to shore, Southern Right Whale will occasionally move along the coastline seeking places to mate and shelter with their newborn calves.

Spring: Sep-Nov – Marine Mammals

Humpback Whales head south on migration to Antarctica. Early October to Mid December, mothers and newborn calves tend to swim very close to the shoreline, Common Dolphin and Bottlenose Dolphins often sighted with occasional visits by Minke Whales, False Killer Whales, Orcas and Pilot Whales..

The Red Centre

 
Traversing through ancient rocky and rugged ranges, vivid red sandstone canyons that are 350 million years old, rich ochre coloured sand dunes, vast expanses of Mulga and Spinifex and the awe-inspiring rock formations of Uluru and Kata Tjuta, this is the ultimate exploration of the Red Centre.

This small group, three or four-day immersive adventure showcases this beautiful desert region and the amazing flora and fauna that have evolved to thrive in this arid environment including numerous skinks, the iconic Thorny Devil, bushbirds, raptor birds, Kangaroos, Common Wallaroos and fascinating insects.

Guests will see Mt Conner, the third iconic rock in Central Australia, take in a stunning sunrise over Kata Tjuta’s spiritual domes and spend an afternoon exploring Uluru, the most culturally significant monolith in Australia.

As a finale, guests will travel to impressive Kings Canyon to undertake the inspirational Rim Walk or stroll along Kings Creek and marvel at the sandstone rock walls, towering more than 300 metres above the valley floor before returning to Alice Springs.

Seasonal highlights

Autumn: Mar-May – Birds

Nesting occur for Black-breasted Buzzards, Brown Falcons, Australian Hobby, Nankeen Kestrels and Wedge-tailed Eagles. Large flocks of Zebra Finches are generally seen across the desert skies at this time of year along with Galahs. Crimson Chats, Splendid Fairy Wrens and Australian Bustards are nomadic and present if rains have occurred.

Spring: Sep-Nov – Birds

Black-breasted Buzzards, Black Falcons, Wedge-tailed Eagles, Nankeen Kestrels and Brown Goshawks nesting. Crested Pigeons, Mudlarks, Butcherbirds, Fairy Martins, Yellow Throated Miners, Crested Bellbirds, Chiming Wedgebills and occasionally the Spinifex Pigeons, Major Mitchell Cockatoos, Rainbow Bee-eaters and Red-capped Robins. Australian Ringneck Parrots, Galahs and Emus.

Autumn: Mar-May – Reptiles & Amphibians

Thorny Devils present before they burrow underground to hibernate for the winter. Long-nosed Water Dragons, Sand Goannas, Bearded Dragons, Central Netted Dragons and Black-headed Monitors.

Spring: Sep-Nov – Reptiles & Amphibians

Lizards emerge from winter hibernation. Blue-tongued Lizards, Perenties, Sand Goannas, Bearded Dragons, Central Netted Dragons, Long Nose Water Dragons and Thorny Devils all possible sightings.

The Top End


 
Covering black soil floodplains, paper bark swamps, savannah woodlands, monsoonal rainforests, river mangroves and dramatic escarpments, this is the ultimate Top End adventure for wildlife enthusiasts. Highlights include a visit to Fogg Dam, the iconic Yellow Water Cruise and airboat rides across the Mary River Catchment.

The richness and diversity of wildlife is simply extraordinary with wallabies, wallaroos, quolls, dingos, bats, goannas, frogs, pythons, waterbirds, cathedral termite mounds and the legendary Saltwater Crocodile, a small sample of viewing opportunities across these diverse habitats.

Visitors will be captivated by the cultural offerings found at the rock art galleries at Injalak and the sacred sites at Mt Borradaile, with the opportunity to learn about Australia’s fauna from the land’s traditional owners an unforgettable experience.

Seasonal highlights

Autumn: Mar-May – Birds

Red-winged Parrots, Double-barred, Star, Crimson and Long-tailed Finches, Red-tailed Cockatoos, Pheasant Coucal, White-bellied and Black-faced Cuckoo Shrikes, Bar-shouldered and Peaceful Doves.

Winter: Jun-Aug – Birds

Mass flocks of Magpie Geese nesting, White-bellied Sea Eagles, Brahminy and Whistling Kites, Great Billed Herons, Azure Kingfishers, Plumed Whistling, Wandering Whistling and Spotted Whistling Ducks, Royal Spoonbills and Glossy Ibis.

Spring: Sep-Nov – Birds

High concentration of waterbirds, Brolga courtship dance, Great Egrets, Royal Spoonbills, Black-winged Stilts, Black-necked Storks (Jabirus), Comb-crested Jacana, Blue-winged Kookaburras.

Autumn: Mar-May – Land Mammals & Marsupials

Arrival of Black Wallaroo joeys, Antilopine Wallaroos breeding, Dingos, Agile Wallabies, Rock Ringtail Possums and Little Red Flying Foxes babies, Northern Brown Bandicoot, Brush-tailed Phascogale.

Winter: Jun-Aug – Land Mammals & Marsupials

Agile Wallabies, Dingos, Wilkins’ Rock-Wallabies, Black Wallaroos, Antilopine Wallaroos, colonies of Ghost Bats, Black and Little Red Flying Foxes and Blossom Bats.

Spring: Sep-Nov – Land Mammals & Marsupials

Concentration of Agile Wallabies around creeks and billabongs, Antilopone Wallaroos, Wilkins’ Rock Wallabies, Northern Brown Bandicoots, Brush-tailed Phascogales and Northern Quolls, Black & Little Red Flying Foxes, Ghost Bats and Blossom Bats.

Autumn: Mar-May – Reptiles & Amphibians

Abudant Saltwater Crocodiles, Frilled-neck Lizards, Mertens’ Water Goannas, Sand and Yellow-spotted Goannas, Dahl’s Aquatic Frog across the floodplains, Northern Dwarf, Little Green Tree Frogs, Green Tree Snakes, Children Pythons, Banded Tree Snakes and Olive Pythons.

Winter: Jun-Aug – Reptiles & Amphibians

Abudant Saltwater Crocodiles, Freshwater Crocodiles in the escarpments, Green Tree Snakes, Children Pythons, Olive Pythons, Rough Knob-tailed Gecko, Desert Tree, Rocket, Roth’s Tree and Northern Dwarf Tree Frogs.

Spring: Sep-Nov – Reptiles & Amphibians

Peak season for Saltwater Crocodiles observation with shrinking pockets of water, Freshwater Crocodiles, Fire-tailed Skink, Sand and Spotted Goannas, Copland’s Rock Frog.

Lady Elliot Island


 
Located within a highly protected ’Green Zone’ of the Great Barrier Reef Marine National Park, the waters surrounding Lady Elliot provide a sanctuary for over 1,200 species, with outstanding water clarity perfect for admire the healthy coral reef, abundance of turtles, Manta Rays, reef sharks and a vast array of tropical fish.

In season guests can also encounter birds nesting, turtle hatchlings or migrating Humpback Whales. Staying at the Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, this package offers guests the opportunity to enjoy a myriad activities to learn more about the Island and its unique history, flora, fauna and incredible marine life. This slice of paradise provides an environment that inspires a diversity of exciting daily nature based activities including reef walks, bird watching tours, snorkel safaris, night tours and scuba diving.

Seasonal highlights

Autumn: Mar-May – Fish & Marine Invertebrates

Peak season for seeing Manta Rays. Bull Rays, Cowtail Stingrays, White-spotted Guitarfish, Spotted Eagle Ray and Blue-spotted Fantail Ray, Damselfish, Wrasses & Parrotfish, Surgeonfish, Angelfish, Groupers, Trumpetfish and Mooray Eels.

Winter: Jun-Aug – Fish & Marine Invertebrates

Seasonal Highlights: Peak season for seeing Manta Rays. Bull Rays, Cowtail Stingrays and White-spotted Guitarfish, Spotted Eagle Ray and Blue-spotted Fantail Ray, Damselfish, Wrasses & Parrotfish, Surgeonfish, Angelfish, Groupers, Blacktip and Whitetip Reef Sharks, Leopard Sharks, Wobbegongs.

Spring: Sep-Nov – Fish & Marine Invertebrates

Braching, Boulder, Plate and Mushroom hard corals and Gorgonian Fan, Organ Pipe and Pink Soft coral, Damselfish, Wrasses & Parrotfish, Surgeonfish, Angelfish, Blacktip and Whitetip Reef Sharks, Leopard Sharks, Wobbegongs, Epaulette Sharks, Manta Rays, Bull Rays and Eagle Rays.

Autumn: Mar-May – Birds

Crested, Roseate, Bridled and Black-naped Terns, Black Noddies, Lesser Frigatebirds and Great Frigatebirds, Brown Footed Boobies, Sooty and Pied Oyster-catchers, Eastern Reef Egrets, Pacific Golden Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone and Grey-tailed Tattler.

Winter: Jun-Aug – Birds

Black Noddies, Crested, Sooted Terns, Silver Gulls, Lesser Frigatebirds and Great Frigatebirds, Brown Footed Boobies, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Capricorn Silvereyes, Buff-banded Rails, Tawny Grassbirds, Black-faced Cuckoo Shrikes and the Golden-headed Cisticolas.

Spring: Sep-Nov – Birds

Pacific Golden Plover, Ruddy Turnstones, Bar-tailed Godwits arrive from Northern Hemisphere migration, Sooty and Pied Oyster-catchers, Eastern Reef Egret, Brown Footed Boobies, Capricorn Silvereyes, Buff-banded Rails.

Autumn: Mar-May – Reptiles & Amphibians

Green and Loggerhead Turtles nest on the island’s pristine sandy dunes, hatchlings to emerge between January and May. The critically endangered Hawksbill Turtle can be seen in surrounding waters.

Winter: Jun-Aug – Reptiles & Amphibians

Green Turtles, Loggerhead Turtles and critically endangered Hawksbill Turtles.

Spring: Sep-Nov – Reptiles & Amphibians

Seasonal Highlights: Green and Loggerhead Turtle mating season, they commence nesting on the island’s pristine sandy dunes in November. The critically endangered Hawksbill Turtle can be seen in the surrounding waters.

 

 

Why you should put the Mornington Peninsula on your Australian itinerary

In recent years the Mornington Peninsula has stepped up it’s game. It’s always been a favourite weekend retreat of Melburnians but these days a plethora of world-class luxury accommodation and wineries, along with incredible scenery make it a must-do add on if you’re visiting Melbourne, and at only 90 minutes away from the city you’d be silly not to go. Here are just a few of the reasons you should visit:

Wineries & restaurants galore

Polperro by Even Keel winery has some delicious wines

The Mornington Peninsula is idea for producing cool climate wines such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Tempranillo and Pinot Gris, and there are more than 50 cellar doors to keep you busy. Being only 90 minutes away from Melbourne makes a day visit much more accessible than regions such as the Hunter Valley in New South Wales or Barossa Valley in South Australia, but given the huge number of wineries this wine region is best explored with time on your side.

Some of the standouts are:

Polperro by Even Keel
Small and boutique in a beautiful setting. Also with four luxury villas. (see below)

Jackalope
A great place to stop for lunch or dinner or stay a few days. (see below)

Port Phillip Estate
A large and commanding winery with some boutique accommodation. Also a great spot for a long lunch with a view.

Foxey’s Hangout
Excellent casual dining with scenic vineyard views. Just go with the Chef’s Menu where you’re served up what the chef decides on the day. It is great value but unfortunately you can not book.

Montalto
Popular and well-known winery with stunning views overlooking vines and a sculpture park.)

Ocean Eight
One of the most spectacular vineyards on the Peninsula.  The cellar door openings are a bit limited but we have access to private barrel tastings.

Merricks General Store
Excellent for lunch. Also serves as the Cellar Door for Baillieu Wines and Elgee Park (Baillieu Myer’s vineyard).

Golfer’s paradise

Play on some of Australia’s best golf courses on the Mornington Peninsula

If you love golf then you’ll want to come to the Mornington Peninsula. Australia’s premier golfing region plays host to 15 clubs and 20 golf courses. Three of these are in Australia’s top ten, plus another six in the top 100. There’s a golf course to suit every skill level and many boast spectacular ocean views. No where else in Australia offers such a broad range of courses in such a small area.

Click on the links below to find out more about two of the top golf clubs in Australia.

St Andrews Beach Golf Course

The National Golf Club

Beaches and Nature

Sorrento back-beach on Mornington Peninsula
Sorrento back-beach

From the calm crystal clear waters of shallow beaches all the way along Port Phillip Bay from Mornington to Portsea to the rugged back-beaches of the wild ocean on the other side of the Peninsula, there is plenty of choice for the novice to the experienced swimmer or surfer. The back-beaches could be said to resemble the coastline of the Great Ocean Road with wild waves, dense tea-tree covered sand-hills and eroded outcrops. There are some great walks along the back-beaches and at low tide there are plenty of rock-pools that are deep enough to swim in and cool down.

Note: There are life-guards at some beaches during summer however only confident and strong swimmers should venture into the surf.

Point Nepean National Park

Well worth a visit if you enjoy walking and history is Point Nepean National Park. It’s the furthest point from Melbourne on the Peninsula and was once a defence base. There are a series of military fortifications as well several walking tracks that lead to interesting viewpoints of Melbourne and Queenscliff on the opposite side of the bay.

Cape Schanck Lighthouse

There are numerous walks at Cape Schanck of varying lengths that take you along rugged coastal landscape. Visit the lighthouse, Bushrangers Bay and enjoy the several lookouts with views of Devils Desk and Pulpit Rock.

Boutique Luxury Accommodation

Jackalope Hotel

Jackalope Hotel
The impressive Jackalope sculpture greets guests upon arrival

This sleek new hotel has hit the ground running and got tongues wagging. Ultra modern and sexy, the juxtaposition of it’s black walls and unique art works are at odds with the surrounding vines and makes a striking impact.

With 42 suites, 2 onsite restaurants (Doot Doot Doot and Rare Hare), a cocktail bar and it’s own winery, Jacklaope is a destination in itself and a must for people wanting a lively funky escape from Melbourne. Find out more >

Polperro

Polperro Villas are perfect in winter or summer
Polperro Villas are perfect in winter or summer.

Polperro is perfect for that peaceful romantic getaway and a great base for exploring the region. We love the gorgeous suites (only four in total) overlooking the vineyards. You could spend all day in them, if only there wasn’t so much to do! Find out more > 

 

 

Jackalope Hotel on the Mornington Peninsula

If you thought the Mornington Peninsula needed a boost of creativity then look no further than Jackalope Hotel. Like it’s namesake creature of American folklore, Jackalope is designed to offer guests an escape from reality. Arriving in early 2017, this mythical hybrid of old and new is just what the region needed. Already winning the accolades of Hotel of the Year, New Hotel of the Year and Regional Hotel of the Year in the Gourmet Traveller Hotel Awards 2017, Jackalope has set tongues wagging for a conceptual approach to art and it’s dark colour palette which is at odds with the more traditional accommodation offerings near by. I visited Jackalope in September 2017 and was impressed with what I saw.

Jackelope Hotel
The striking black exterior is in contrast with the surrounding vineyard

 

With 46 rooms, a 30-metre outdoor pool over looking the vineyards, on-property winery and cellar door, a casual and fine-dining restaurant, plus a cocktail bar, Jackalope has filled the much needed gap where mid-sized luxury hotels were lacking on the Mornington Peninsula. Plus it’s only about 1 hour from Melbourne and the nearest helicopter landing is only 15 minutes away.

Jackelope room with vineyard view

Quirky commissioned art installations, nightclub style hallways and unusual architecture all add up to one fantastic feast for the eyes. Despite it being out of place, it all seems to make sense once you’re there.

Jackelope hotel
Jackelope’s hallway wouldn’t be out of place in a nightclub

The 42 luxury rooms have private terraces and the option of deep soak baths in four luxury suites. Sizes range from 52-85 sqm and you can choose from Garden view or Vineyard view (recommended).  In contrast to the abundant art in the common areas, the room interiors are decidedly understated with simple black walls and lush furnishings leaving the view as the key piece of art.

My recommendation would be to take a Signature suite with loft ceilings, an expansive 30 sqm terrace overlooking the vines, a double sided indoor/outdoor fireplace, a six-seater indoor dining table, kitchenette, cocktail bar and a personal wine cellar.

  • Inside: 85 sqm/914 sqft
  • Terrace: 30 sqm/333 sqft
  • West-facing (sunset aspect), overlooking Willow Creek vineyard
  • King Bed
  • Alfresco dining for six and outdoor lounge
  • Double-sided indoor/outdoor fireplace
  • Kitchenette, bar, private wine cellar
  • Deep soak, black stone bath tub
  • Complimentary breakfast served in Doot Doot Doot
  • Complimentary minibar (excluding wine)
Rooms are luxurious but sparsely decorated

Whilst there is no on-site spa, the hotel has several in-house masseurs ready to take your relaxation to the next level. You can enjoy a massage in the privacy of your own room (followed by a soak in your deep Japanese bath) or there are other private areas to accommodate you.

Enjoy an in-room massage on your private balcony.

When it’s time for an afternoon beverage then Jackalope won’t disappoint. You certainly wouldn’t expect to find an on-site cocktail bar like Flagerdoot amongst the vineyards. Sample the alchemy of experimental in-house creations such as ‘Mushroom & Maple’ made from Shiitake mushroom, maple, chocolate bitters, bourbon whiskey. With dark parquet floors, handpicked gold leather seating and a chic, industrial-chemistry lab feel to it, Flagerdoot attracts the curious hoards on a weekend, eager to see what all the fuss is about.

Jackalope
Flaggerdoot cocktail bar is an unexpected delight.

Also attracting day visitors and guests alike are the two superb dining options and rumours of the delicious food at Jackalope are true. Doot Doot Doot, the upmarket fine-dining option has a ten thousand bulb chandelier, five-course seasonal degustation of local produce fresh from the kitchen garden and a unique selection of limited-release wines. It’s visually impressive by day and even more so at night when then chandelier comes alive.

Open for lunch: noon – 3pm, Saturday and Sunday and dinner: 6pm – 9pm (last order), 7 days.

For more casual dining head to Rare Hare. I ate a sumptuous lunch there and despite the winter rain outside it was warm and toasty and buzzing with diners. Highly recommended is the Negroni cured trout with horseradish cream and dill on rye toast, and the Salmon cutlet cured in white miso, sesame and ginger. Open from Monday to Thursday 11am to 5pm and Friday to Sunday from 11am to 9pm it makes a great place for a lazy long lunch or a dinner whether you’re staying in the hotel or not.

Nearby Red Hill properties Polperro and Port Phillip Estate both mentioned that they send guests to Jackelope to dine.

Jackalope
The casual dining option of Rare Hare serves up fantastic share plates.

Before or after you feast, visit the Cellar Door of Willow Creek Vineyard. The entrance of Rare Hare backs on to a great room where wine barrels line up to the ceiling and guests can sample the wares. If you like Rosé you’ll be in for a treat.

Rare Hare Range
The Rare Hare Range

It was winter during my visit but the 30 metre pool will be the perfect place for guests to wile away a sunny summer afternoon, glass of wine in hand. Overlooking the vineyard, it’s for guests only and even in the winter the steamy attached jacuzzi was being used.

Overall the hotel feels like a place to enjoy with friends or for a celebration rather than for romance and peace and quiet. Maybe this is due to the two on-site restaurants and quirky cocktail bar, or maybe it’s just the funky vibe of the place – it’s all about good times, great laughs and a unique experience to be shared. Jackalope has made an impression and is here to stay. To add Jackalope to an Australian itinerary contact alquemie@alquemie.com.au.

Polperro Villas at Red Hill – A boutique luxury accommodation on the Mornington Peninsula

If you’re after a peaceful weekend getaway from Melbourne then look no further than Polperro Villas at Red Hill on the Mornington Peninsula.  Only 90 minutes from the city, it is simply the perfect place for romance and relaxation. Just four luxurious villas are privately located on 25 acres of working vineyards in the heart of the famous wine region Red Hill, Mornington Peninsula. Here’s why we love it….

Polperro Villas sit on 25 private acres of vineyards.
Polperro Villas
The villas have a gorgeous large spa bath.

Each luxury villa features a king size bed, designer styling, an open fire place, a central spa bath and a private deck with vineyard views.

Polperro Villas are perfect in winter or summer
Polperro Villas are perfect in winter or summer.

On the property is also an intimate cellar door showcasing the full range of wines from Polperro and Even Keel founder and winemaker, Sam Coverdale.

Polperro wines
Sample wines made onsite at the cellar door.

There’s also a delightful bistro overlooking the vineyards with dishes like ‘Glazed lamb ribs, soft pancakes, garlic labneh, tomato relish, cucumber’ or ‘Duck breast, coffee chestnut purée, black quinoa, balsamic reduction’.

Polperro Bistro with indoor and outdoor dining overlooking the vineyards
Polperro Bistro with indoor and outdoor dining overlooking the vineyards

Guests can grab a picnic pack and wine and venture out to explore the grounds for a long lazy afternoon in nature.

Polperro picnic
Grab a picnic pack and spend the afternoon relaxing outside.

For visiting guests there’s plenty to do, see and taste, with over 50 boutique cellar doors to explore, many celebrated restaurants to eat at, and pristine beaches and natural surrounds to feed nature lovers.

Polperro wines
Red Hill hosts more than 50 cellar doors

Polperro also offers guests Hot Hut yoga classes 7 days a week

HotHut yoga at Polperro
HotHut yoga

The accommodation here is our pick of the Mornington Peninsula. It is simply stunning and perfect for summer or winter. While one night here would be enough, we recommend two to really absorb and relax into the environment. To include Polperro Villas on your Australian itinerary contact alquemie@alquemie.com.au.

Fishing in Australia

Australia’s fish population has had tens of millions of years to evolve and adapt to the unique aquatic environments of this massive, isolated island continent, so it’s hardly surprising that many species are found nowhere else on earth. However even those species you might be familiar with, such as black marlin and some types of tuna, tend to be more abundant and grow larger here than almost anywhere else. Below is a short list of some of Australia’s most exciting sport fishing target species or groups of fish.

 

For more information about fishing in Australia, visit the Australia website.

 

 

Itinerary – Encounters with Baby Australian Animals

A highlight for any wildlife enthusiast is the opportunity to spot baby Australian animals such as kangaroo or koala joeys. The autumn and spring seasons are a terrific time to spot these young marsupials, as they are exploring the world outside of their mother’s pouch and becoming more independent.

This suggested itinerary covers a broad range of habitats including semi-arid, open woodlands, wet and dry rainforests along with coastal heathlands, providing opportunities to see a wide range of species including Tammar Wallabies, Kangaroo Island Kangaroos, Brush-tailed Possums, Red Kangaroos, Common Wallaroos, Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies, Eastern-grey Kangaroos, Swamp Wallabies, Red-necked Wallabies, Tasmanian Pademelons, Tasmanian Bettong, Long-nosed Potoroos and Common Wombats. Aside from this, the spring season is also prime for seeing nesting birds including Wedge-tailed Eagles and raptors that fledge at this time.

Minimum Suggested Nights: 16 nights, plus a couple of nights on arrival and departure from Australia if desired.

SUGGESTED MONTHS: MARCH, APRIL, MAY, SEPTEMBER, OCTOBER, NOVEMBER

Baby Australian Animals - baby seal on Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island In Style

This tour combines the two most popular full day landscape and wildlife experiences; Island Life and Flinders Chase Focus. Guests will be exposed to a broad range of elements that make this island so celebrated, including the the Island’s history, ecology, wildlife, landscape and contemporary lifestyle. Regions visited include the Cygnet Valley, north coast landscape at Stokes Bay, central plateau, south coast landscape at Seal Bay to walk on the beach with Australian Sea-lions and the spectacular wilderness and the dramatic coastline of Flinders Chase National Park.

Iconic landscapes in the southwest corner will deliver endless photographic opportunities especially at Remarkable Rocks, Admirals Arch and Cape du Couedic. Key species regularly encountered are Koalas, Tammar Wallabies, Kangaroo Island Kangaroos, endangered Glossy Black Cockatoos, Short-beaked Echidnas, Australian Sea-lions, Long-nosed Fur-seals and a variety of bush birds and shorebirds and seabirds.

Seasonal highlights

Autumn: Mar-May – Birds

Glossy Black Cockatoos nest in large hollows, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos aggregate post breeding (they breed in summer), Red Wattlebirds abundant, Black Swans, Royal Spoonbills, Crested Terns, Caspian Terns, Crimson Rosellas.

Spring: Sep-Nov – Birds

Short-tailed Shearwaters migrate to the area, Superb Fairy-wrens breed and the spectacular blue males are a stunning splash of colour, New Holland, White-eared Honeyeaters, Eastern Spinebills. Rainbow Lorikeets, Purple-crowned Lorikeets. Chestnut-breasted Shelducks, Yellow-billed Spoonbills, Australian White Ibis and White-headed Stilts abundant.

Autumn: Mar-May – Land Mammals & Marsupials

Young Tammar Wallabies are weaned off their mothers and form their own social groups, Kangaroo Island Kangaroo joeys following their mothers around, Short-beaked Echidnas, Common Brushtail Possums usually have one joey at a time in Autumn.

Spring: Sep-Nov – Land Mammals & Marsupials

Kangaroo and wallaby joeys emerge from pouches for the first time, Koala mating begins to occur from September onwards until March, Short-beaked Echidnas will feast upon eat large amounts insects and larvae during Spring.

Autumn: Mar-May – Marine Mammals

Australian Sea-lions bask on the sand in-between fishing trips to the continental shelf, Long-nosed Fur Seal pups can be seen playing around the rock ledges and pools at Cape du Couedic.

Baby Australian Animals - emu chicks

The Arkaba Walk

This four day walk traverses the ancient Flinders Ranges where 600 million years of geological history provide spectacular backdrops to the rich array of birds, reptiles and marsupials that call this region home. From dry creek beds, isolated waterholes, lined with 1,000 year old river gums to craggy ridge lines and rolling hills covered in cypress pines to the ancient ramparts of Wilpena Pound, this is some of the most stunning walking country in Australia and provides abundant opportunities to spot Red and Western Grey Kangaroos, Wallaroos, Emus, Wedge-tailed Eagles along with numerous parrots, songbirds, bushbirds and raptors.

Accompanied by expert guides, walkers are provided with a fascinating insight into the ecosystems located across the 60,000 acre private wildlife conservancy, along with the stories of the indigenous inhabitants, early explorers and pioneer settlers.

Seasonal highlights

Autumn: Mar-May – Birds

Black-eared Cuckoos and Brown Songlark migration, Grey-shrike Thrush, Rufous Whistlers, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes, Galahs, Australian Ringnecks, Red-rumped Parrots, Emus preparing for the breeding season.

Spring: Sep-Nov – Birds

Striped Emu chicks following their fathers, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Little Eagle, Black Kite and Brown Goshawk fledging, Rainbow Bee-eaters and Sacred Kingfishers arrive to breed.

Autumn: Mar-May – Land Mammals & Marsupials

Western Grey Kangaroos are abundant, Red Kangaroos, Common Wallaroos, Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies, Dingos breeding and occasionally sighted but often heard.

Spring: Sep-Nov – Land Mammals & Marsupials

Short-beaked Echidnas, Red Kangaroo joeys born, Western Grey Kangaroos, Common Wallaroos feeding on shoots and vegetation, Fat-tailed Dunnarts and Stripe-faced Dunnarts breeding and very occasionally sighted.

Autumn: Mar-May – Reptiles & Amphibians

Thick-tailed Gecko (also known as the Barking Gecko) can be heard with it’s distinctive call, Masked Rock Skink, Tree Skink, Boulenger’s Snake-eyed Skink, Bynoe’s Gecko and Central Bearded Dragon, Yellow-faced Whipsnakes.

Spring: Sep-Nov – Reptiles & Amphibians

Breeding males for the Painted, Tawny and Red-barred Dragons exhibit brilliant colours, Central Bearded Dragons, Nobbi Dragons, Thick-tailed Geckos with their barking calls.

Baby Australian animals - Yellow footed rock wallaby

Tasmania Wildlife Encounter

Over one-third of the ‘island’ state is reserved as a conservation area and this epic adventure traverses through some of the most scenic parts, including the World Heritage Listed Cradle Mountain, Rocky Cape, Narawntapu, and Freycinet National Parks. A mix of expansive ancient temperate rainforests, spectacular coastlines, rugged mountains and sparkling highland lakes provide refuge and habitat for a rich array of rare and endemic plants and animals.

Tasmania is a delight for Marsupial lovers, with opportunities to spot Pademelons, Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Bennett’s Wallabies, Common Wombats, Tasmanian Bettongs, Long-nosed Potoroos, Quolls and of course the carnivorous Tasmanian Devil. A wide variety of songbirds, bushbirds, shorebirds and seabirds, including the Little Penguin are also highlights. Guests will be captivated by a cruise on the final day around Bruny Island, spotting Dolphins, Australian Fur Seals and seabirds along the towering 200m dolerite cliffs.

Seasonal highlights

Autumn: Mar-May – Birds

Summer migrants arrive including Welcome Swallows, Tree Martins, Dusky Woodswallows, Striated Pardalotes, Grey Fantails and Swift Parrots. Short-tailed Shearwaters leave the Tasmanian coast on their migration along with other migratory waders such as, Ruddy Turnstones, Red-necked Stints, Common Greenshanks and Eastern Curlews. Beautiful Firetails and Green Rosellas a highlight.

Spring: Sep-Nov – Birds

Fan-tailed, Pallid and Shining Bronze Cuckoos migrate to breed along with Welcome Swallows, Tree Martins, Dusky Woodswallows, Striated Pardalotes, Grey Fantails and Silvereyes and Swift Parrots, 18 million Short-tailed Shearwaters arrive. Little Penguins breed along with Red-capped Plovers, Hooded Dotterels, Pied & Sooty Oystercatchers, Cormorants, Masked & Banded Lapwings and a variety of Gulls and Terns.

Autumn: Mar-May – Land Mammals & Marsupials

Forester Kangaroos, Bennett’s Wallabies, Tasmanian Pademelons, Tasmanian Bettongs and Long-nosed Potoroos have joeys that are weaned off at this time. Tasmanian Devils breed in March, Common Wombats, Short-beaked Echidnas.

Spring: Sep-Nov – Land Mammals & Marsupials

Spring is the peak season for seeing a number of Tasmania’s baby marsupials including Forester Kangaroos, Bennett’s Wallabies, Tasmanian Pademelons, Common Brushtail and Ringtail Possums. Long-nosed Potoroos, Tasmanian Bettongs and Tasmanian Devils also sighted.

Baby Australian Animals -echidna

Great Ocean Road

This small group three day journey covers some of the most rugged and awe-inspiring coastline in Australia. Visits to the Serendip and You Yangs National Parks, the Great Ocean Road, Great Otway National Park, the Twelve Apostles, the Shipwreck Coast and volcanoes and lakes of the Western Plains provide dramatic backdrops whilst spotting wild animals including Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Koalas, Echidnas, Emus, Rosellas, Robins, Honeyeaters, raptor birds and various seabirds.

Guests will have the opportunity to walk beside the waves of the mighty Southern Ocean on pristine sands, experience an unforgettable sunset over brilliantly-coloured limestone cliffs and walk through dense rainforests of lush tree ferns. Led by expert guides, visitors will often be able to track and spot the Red-necked Wallaby and adorable Potoroo.

Seasonal highlights

Spring: Sep-Nov – Birds

Tawny Frogmouths roosting, Short-tailed Shearwater migration, Honeyeaters abundant including Red and Little Wattlebirds, Eastern Spinebills, New Holland, Yellow-faced, Tawny-crowned and White-plumed Honeyaters, Black-chinned, White-naped , Spiny Cheeked, Yellow-tufted, Fuscous and Singing Honeyeaters possible, Rainbow, Musk and Purple-crowned Lorikeets.

Autumn: Mar-May – Land Mammals & Marsupials

Eastern Grey Kangaroo joeys discover the world outside, learn to hop, play and graze, Swamp Wallabies, Red-necked Wallabies, Koalas, Common Brushtail Possums at dusk and early evening.

Spring: Sep-Nov – Land Mammals & Marsupials

Baby Koalas (joeys) come out of the pouch for the first time and will ride on their mother’s back late Spring, Common Brushtail and Common Ringtail Possums at dusk, Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Swamp Wallabies, Red-necked Wallabies.

Click here to find out more about Australian travel with Alquemie

Itinerary suggestion courtesy of Australian Wildlife Journeys

Margaret River Gourmet Escape – November 2018

Margaret River Gourmet Escape celebrates 50 years of wine in WA’s extraordinary south west region, with a produce and wine extravaganza over four days this November.

Paying homage to the region’s 50th anniversary of commercial wine production, world renowned wine critic Jancis Robinson, OBE, MW (UK) will be in attendance at many events across the weekend, and the festival will exhibit a selection of key wine events including the Cape Mentelle International Cabernet Tasting and Long Lunch; the Cullen Wines 32nd International Chardonnay Tasting; plus fringe events including the ‘50 Years in the Making’ Tasting at Vasse Felix and the Leeuwin Art Series Dinner. Jancis will be joined by some of Australia’s most respected wine personalities and journalists including James Halliday, Huon Hooke and Nick Stock.

Curtis (of acclaimed Maude & Gwen Restaurants, Los Angeles) will join over 50 of the world’s leading food and wine personalities, including chefs from the World’s Best Restaurants*, Andre Chiang (#14 Restaurant Andre, Singapore), Alex Atala (D.O.M., Brasil), David Thompson (#28 Nahm, Thailand), Ashley Palmer-Watts (#36 Dinner by Heston, UK) and Rodolfo Guzman (#42 Borago, Chile). Together they will all head to Margaret River and collaborate with the country’s best as they showcase the region’s exceptional food and wine.

Asia’s Best Female Chef, May Chow (Little Bao, Hong Kong) will join highly acclaimed chefs including Pierre Koffmann (UK), Danny Bowien (Mission Chinese, USA), Kyle Connaughton (SingleThread Farm, USA), and Kris Yenbamroong (NIGHT + MARKET, USA) who join the Gourmet Escape line up for the first time to collaborate on events showcasing premium local produce and stunning locations Margaret River is famous for.

This year will also see the addition of new and exciting events including Curtis Stone officially opening the festival at the additional Audi Gourmet Beach BBQ session on Thursday evening; The Great Soiree at Fraser Gallop Estate; The High Life with Paul Iskov (a helicopter lunch); and the launch of the Official Closing Party at White Elephant Café.

Visitors can expect some extraordinary dining collaborations; Fermoy Estate will host a dinner featuring Clayton Wells with Mejakawi (Bali); and Alex Atala (Brazil) joins forces with Porteno (Sydney) at Larry Cherubino. The festival also welcomes new venues and wineries for the first time including the newly opened Amelia Park Winery Restaurant; and Arimia Estate – who will take part in the festival to showcase their wines.

The heartbeat of the festival, the Gourmet Village, will have a fresh feel for 2017 with the main stage hosted by multitalented comedian, actor/presenter and musician Matt Okine, plus music programming throughout the day including a secret closing act on Sunday evening. New attractions include The Lurpak Cookery School & a ‘Giniversity’ along with returning favourites such as Wusthof Knife Skillery, Around the Barrel, Icon Tastings and Battle of the Breweries.

Also making its debut in 2017, The World’s Best Chef’s Table is an exclusive and very intimate, once in a lifetime restaurant experience nestled in the heart of the Gourmet Village. Guests can pull up a stool and savour a glass of the region’s best wine alongside some of the world’s most coveted chefs from the top 50 list as they create a dish showcasing incredible WA produce. Once the masterpiece is complete, the lucky group will enjoy the meal alongside their culinary idols. Tickets are strictly limited and expected to sell out quickly.

Quintessential WA package  

Sunset, Beats & Bites

Mix a handful of new wave winemakers with a good dose of funky beats, add an iconic Western Australian sunset, delectable, hearty food and you have arguably Margaret River Gourmet Escape’s hippest event.  From the deck of Gnarabup Beach kiosk, watch the sun go down as the DJ spins the decks, and taste drops by Margaret River wineries. The volume goes up as the stars in the night sky start to shine.

Tickets include a glass of wine (additional drinks can be purchased) and a bountiful selection of food. Visitors can select dishes from the various food stations

Feast in the Forest, The Safari Club, Leeuwin Estate

Andre Chiang (Number 2 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, and Number 14 in the world) is one of Singapore’s most influential chefs and his exquisite Singapore dining room, Andre, showcases ground breaking ways with food. Closer to home, Wills Domain head chef Seth James curates a very special menu at one of Western Australia’s most awarded dining rooms.

Both chefs share a curiosity and passion for food that introduces diners to a range of innovative flavours, and have garnered a reputation for delivering food that engages yet constantly surprises, expect dishes that evoke memories and emotions. Together, they will bring you an extraordinary dinner matched by Will’s Domain’s award-winning wines.

Owned by the Haunold family, this elegant winery overlooks the picturesque Gunyulgup Valley and offers a wide range of award-winning wines that are more than a match for Seth’s wonderful food.

Gourmet Village, Leeuwin Estate Winery – GA includes bus transfer

A visit to Margaret River Gourmet Escape presented by Audi is not complete without a visit to the Gourmet Village, located in the stunning surrounds of the renowned Leeuwin Estate Winery. Over the weekend of Saturday 19 November and Sunday 20 November (11am-5.30pm) the vineyard comes alive as festival-goers rub shoulders with some of the world’s best chefs and food and wine experts in a delicious, fun-filled environment.

Platinum guests will gain fast track access to the air-conditioned Leeuwin Estate restaurant with premium views over the festival, two glasses of Leeuwin Estate wine and local dishes prepared from interactive food stations.

Other packages also available. Please contact Alquemie for more information.

2017 Festival Line Up

• Curtis Stone (Maude & Gwen, USA)

• Jancis Robinson OBE (Master of Wine, UK)

• Rick Stein (Chef & Restaurateur, UK) • Pierre Koffmann (Chef & Restaurateur, UK)

• Andre Chiang (Restaurant Andre, Singapore) *No. 14 • Alex Atala (D.O.M, Brazil) *No. 16 • David Thompson (Nahm, Thailand) *No. 28

• Ashley Palmer-Watts (Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, UK) *No. 36

• Rodolfo Guzman (Borago, Chile) *No. 42

• May Chow (Little Bao, Hong Kong) *Asia’s Best Female Chef

• Benjamin Cross (Mejekawi, Bali)

• Carlo Cracco (Ristorante Cracco, Italy)

• Danny Bowien (Mission Chinese Food, USA)

• Kris Yenbamroong (NIGHT + MARKET, USA)

• Kyle Connaughton (Single Thread Farms, USA)

• Michael Hunter (Antler Kitchen & Bar, Canada)

• Roger Mooking (Man, Fire, Food, Canada)

• Vijay Mudaliar (Native, Singapore)

• Luke Nguyen (Red Lantern, Sydney)

• Andrew McConnell (Cutler & Co., Melbourne)

• Guillaume Brahimi (Bistro Guillaume, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth)

• Shane Delia (Maha Restaurant, Melbourne)

• Peter Kuruvita (Noosa Beach House, Noosa)

• James Halliday, AM (Wine writer, critic and winemaker, VIC)

• Aaron Carr (Snake and Herring, Margaret River)

• Ben Milgate (Porteno, Sydney)

• Blair Allen (Amelia Park, Margaret River)

• Brendan Pratt (Vasse Felix, Margaret River)

• Clayton Wells (Automata, Sydney, Blackwattle, Singapore)

• Dan Gedge (Watershed Premium Wines, Margaret River)

• Dan Hong (Mr. Wong and Ms G’s, Sydney)

• Daniel Fisher (KU Dining, Perth)

• Dany Angove (Leeuwin Estate, Margaret River)

• Duncan Welgemoed (Africola, Adelaide)

• Elvis Abrahanowicz (Porteno, Sydney)

• Evan Hayter (Arimia, Margaret River)

• George Cooper (Food by the Chef, Margaret River)

• Heath Townsend (Wise Vineyards Restaurant, Margaret River)

• Huon Hooke (Writer)

• Iain Robertson (Cullen Wines, Margaret River)

• Jo Barrett (Oakridge Wines, Yarra Valley)

• Josh Niland (Saint Peter, Sydney)

• Josh Whiteland (Koomal Dreaming, Margaret River)

• Matt Okine (Comedian, actor/presenter and musician)

• Matt Stone (Oakridge Wines, Yarra Valley)

• Morgan McGlone (Belle’s Hot Chicken, Melbourne and Sydney)

• Nick Stock (Wine Writer)

• Paul Carmichael (Momofuku Seiobo, Sydney)

• Paul Iskov (Fervor, Margaret River)

• Russell Blaikie (Must Wine Bar, Perth)

• Sam Ward (Mas, Perth)

• Rhys Passmore (The Goose, Margaret River)

• Santiago Fernandez (Voyager Estate, Margaret River)

• Scott Bridger (Bib & Tucker, Perth)

• Seth James (Wills Domain, Margaret River)

• Tim Whitty (Kitchen Takeovers, Margaret River)

* Ranking in World’s Best Restaurants – http://www.theworlds50best.com/

River drift snorkelling in the Daintree

“It’s too cold for crocodiles”, our knowledgable guide Glen assures us as we pull on thick wetsuits. We are about to go River Drift Snorkelling – a unique way to explore the tropics. It hadn’t even crossed my mind to be worried about crocodiles but it was a valid point – they inhabit rivers in the north of Australia. We walk the short 50 metres from the van to the river and any worries of crocodiles quickly fade away. The river is definitely on the chilly side, but more than that – we are in one of the most beautiful settings I’d ever found myself in.

River Drift Snorkelling
Stunning scenery on the River Drift Snorkelling experience

We are at the Mossman River near the edge of World Heritage Listed Daintree National Park, the oldest living rainforest in the world, a region which contains an almost complete record of the major stages in the evolution of plant life on earth. This part of the river is a clear and shallow, gently flowing stream draped on either side by tropical rainforest that reminds me of some movie scene. Tall palms sprout from the banks while larger more ancient looking trees lean over the river, attempting to catch the sunlight that gently makes its way down. Simply stunning.

Just a few kilometres upstream lies Silky Oaks Lodge – a luxury lodge of Australia and my favourite choice of accommodation in the area. As we wade into the cool water, Glen gives us some safety instructions before we don our snorkels and mask and pop our heads underwater.

Snorkelling through tree tops

It’s a completely different experience to snorkelling in locations like the Great Barrier Reef – for starters there’s a current which makes things really quite fun as you drift along. Depending on the season the river may be shallow or deep and fast flowing or slow, and because it’s a pristine natural environment there are some hazards such as hidden underwater logs although these come in handy to hold onto in the current. As we head downstream there is a huge tree that had fallen across the river and we snorkel through it’s branches. There are plenty of fish to be seen – mostly small and brown – but plentiful none the less. We also see a turtle which was a delight. The illusive platypus remained as such despite my efforts to find one along the river banks.

Suitable for all ages

The second half of our trip is simply lazing on inflatable rafts, drifting with the current and watching the treetops of the peaceful rainforest as the river meanders down to our finishing point. It is the perfect way to end an incredible experience – first from below the water, and then from above.

River Drift Snorkelling is the perfect activity for all ages and fitness levels – from groups of friends to families as it’s suitable for children who are confident swimmers. It’s a great way to spend time in the rainforest and would work fabulously with any itinerary to Far North Queensland. A highly recommended year-round experience.

 

Click here to find out more about Australian travel with Alquemie

A 3 day wilderness glamping event in the Southern Highlands – 27 to 29 October 2017

Be part of an unforgettable and uniquely Australian three day wilderness celebration.

It’s a festival connecting you to nature through soul-stirring and authentic wild activities. And as nature is unpredictable, exciting and untamed, we mix in the whimsical to craft those truly exceptional moments.

This definitely isn’t your average weekend in the country.

This creatively programmed three day wilderness event is a rich mixture of remote glamping with concierge, mouth-watering food experiences, up-close nature exploration through hiking, abseiling, canoeing and mountain biking, awe-inspiring performance art and enough stolen moments to just be. It’s a carnival for the senses designed to let you do as little or as much as you want.

As a special offer to all Alquemie customers we are also including the Canoes, Canapés and Champagne experience as part of this 3 day itinerary at no extra cost.

Add in a wild Native Feast, night photography and an open-air wellness spa and you are starting to understand what it is all about. And then of course there are the surprises that can’t be shared just yet.

All nature-connect activities are optional but included as part of the package price alongside your food, drink and accommodation. Everything is included, you will want for nothing.

Your day is scheduled based on the questionnaire you complete after booking and matched to either your fitness level or your desire for a more leisure-based or physically challenging activity choice.

We provide exceptional chef-designed catering and we do all the heavy lifting along the way. When you reach that magic spot, your deck chair, canapés and special glass of something will await. All you have to do is sit back and savour the beauty that is mother nature. It’s a step out of the everyday into the wild.

The location – Joadja Old Town & Distillery

Joadja Old Town is a very unique and special place and never before has an event like this been held in this location. Its wilderness is unmatched in the area and the historical backdrop of colonial mining ruins are mesmerising.

Only 25 kms west of Mittagong, Joadja town was founded on a shale seam in 1850 and Scottish workers were brought out to Australia to mine it. The mine closed early in the 20th century, and the town was abandoned. The buildings were left to the elements, and nature has slowly regained its hold on much of the valley. The ruins that remain, entangled with the wild, tell the story of those that lived and worked here.

The mining technology that made the valley so prosperous in its time stands as the last of its kind in the world. Joadja truly is a gem of world heritage significance and an intriguing part of Australia’s history.

Canoes, Champagne and Canapés Experience

Before check in on 27th Oct or after check out on 29th Oct from Joadja Old Town we are also including this unique experience in Kangaroo Valley.

Canoes, Champagne and Canapés is the perfect combination food, wine and wilderness. Its gastronomy heaven for lovers of great food as well as a wine tasting exploration of award winning cool climate varietals and boutique craft beers from the Southern Highlands, all set in a wilderness sanctuary where nature over delivers.

Gliding downstream on the Kangaroo River from Beehive Point to the mouth of Yarrunga Creek with the backdrop of the Morton National Park in Kangaroo Valley is one such place. Take a seat in one of our custom-built double-canoe rigs and immerse your senses in its sheer beauty. This area is home to the majestic azure kingfisher, wedge-tail eagle, diamond python, rock wallaby, white-breasted sea eagle, water dragon and more.

Package price does not include transfers to and from Joadja Old Town or Beehive Point for the Canoes, Champagne and Canapés Experience. For those unable to self drive and need transportation and for full terms and conditions please contact your Alquemie Specialist.

The 3 Day WILDfest Southern Highlands Premium Package is all inclusive.

  • 3 Days and 2 Nights Glamping on the Remote Joadja Old Town private site from check in on Friday 27th Oct to check out on Sunday 29th Oct
  • Glamping guests enjoy concierge service and tent inclusions are:
    • Real beds – Mattress on bed bases, floor rugs and welcome mat
    • Quality bed linen package – sheets, pillow cases, warm doona, warm throw and cushion
    • Towels, face washer and environmentally friendly toiletries
    • Luggage rack and low shelving unit• Bed side tables with solar lights and chairs
    • Communal lounge are in our Sperry Tent
    • Toilets and hot showers serviced regularly on site
  • Our central communal lounge Sperry tent will be stocked with local snacks to keep the hunger pains at bay as well as cool climate wines, local boutique beers and soft herbal non-alcoholic tonics and fresh gravity feed mountain water for you to access anytime.
  • Tea and coffee will be available on request through our concierge team.
  • Gourmet meals prepared by Brigid Kennedy of the Loch in Berrima & Simmer Catering. These include:
    • Welcome Lunch Friday 27th Oct – Our food is fresh paddock-to-plate all the way with gastronomic delights carefully crafted by our award-winning chefs for which the region is renowned.
    • Sundowners followed by Gourmet Fire Feast on Friday 27th Oct. Sit back and relax as we serve you a char-grilled extravaganza of the finest locally cultivated produce. Platters to satisfy the most ardent meat lover or vegetarian gastronome will be served accompanied by the best of the best Highlands wines: crisp Pinot Grigio, delicate Chardonnay, elegant Riesling or gold-medal winning Pinot Noir depending on your preference.
    • Breakfast on Sat 28th and Sun 29th Oct – After a steaming hot shower greet the day with fresh baked sourdough smothered in smoky butter, just-roasted coffee or hand-blended tea. Expect a sumptuous feast of freshly baked pastries, organic juices, super food porridge and classic farm-style hearty breakfast options such as free range eggs, locally reared bacon or pancake stacks with fruit and maple syrup.
    • Picnic lunch on Saturday 28th Oct at the Joadja Old Town Property – location depending on your chosen activities that day. Enjoy crusty bread with hand made artisan delicacies such as pate, ploughman’s or thick crusted open sandwiches served with fresh salads, fruits of the season and something sweet to fuel you until dinner.
    • Farewell Lunch on Sunday 29th Oct – Our last supper together will celebrate all that is amazing about the richness and diversity of food and wine produce from the Highlands region.
    • After lunch on Sunday 29th Oct we will take you on a tour of the Joadja Distillery where they make Single Malt Whisky, Moonshine, Dr Gin, Anise and their Wee Scottish Ale as well as set up a shop in the WIldfest Café – Why not pack your bag with a taste of the Highlands to enjoy while you look back on your unforgettable images of WILDfest™ Southern Highlands
  • Wild Native Feast event from 5.30pm on Sat 28th OctoberOur signature foodie event – A combination of award-wining local produce partnered with fresh foraged delights that have been crafted into a 7 course feast by resident chef Damien Monley. We will serve this under the stars in one of the paddock at Joadja Old Town and mix in some whimsical elements to really make your night complete – live entertainment with acoustic music, seven incredible courses and we provide you with Top Hat & Tails for the guys and Tiaras & Gloves for the ladies to really immerse=se yourself in the wonderland setting we have created for this special dinner.
  • Participate in 5 of the available Nature Connect Activities with our fully qualified guides over your 3 day festival period:
    • Hike & Harvest Bush Walk
    • Mountain Biking with bikes provided
    • Canoe experience with canoes provided
    • Abseiling with all equipment provided and guides to teach you
    • 4WD Drive tour of the Joadja Old Town Ruins
    • Wildlife Encounter with the South Coast Rescue Team and Australia Raptor Centre
    • Rejuvenate and Meditate- our bush spa treatment
    • Art Classes in the bush

The festival organisers schedule your day based on the questionnaire you complete after booking.  These are matched to either your fitness level or desire for more leisure-based or physically challenging activity choices.

  • Start the day with either Yoga or Tai Chi before breakfast.
  • Additional activities such as night photography and glow in the dark boules will be offered and you can choose to participate or not during your weekend adventure.

 

SAMPLE ITINERARY

FRIDAY 27TH OCT 2017  Sunrise 6.00am

11am – Arrive and Check In

Guests arrive at our remote location – Joadja Old Town in Southern Highlands about 1.5 hours south of Sydney. We have arranged car parking nearby for those arriving in their own vehicles or local pick ups for other arrival options. We then transfer you on to the WILDfest site by 4WD where you’ll enjoy a welcome drink, meet the festival staff and settle in to your perfectly provisioned bell tent. We’ll brief you on your itinerary before you embark on your long weekend.

Noon -1.30pm-  Welcome Lunch 

Our festival foodie mecca has been set up adjacent to the Whiskey Distillery where you will, over the next three days, sample the best of locally grown produce from more than 100 regional growers and producers. Brigid Kennedy and her team at The Loch, Berrima are well known for their Foodie Field Day Feasts and are providing our day-to-day catering.  Brigid is an expert chef and the driving force behind the Southern Highlands Food & Wine Clusters, a development which has put the national spotlight on the rich and diverse wine and food culture in the Highlands.  She is also a celebrated author having published Small Food and All Fired Up and is currently working on her next book Slave to Flavour

Expect delights such as line-caught local perch, fresh hand-reared Angus beef, free range chicken, luscious organic vegetables and fruit, artisan cheeses, the freshest of hand-kneaded breads, smoky churned butters, award-winning cold climate wines, and boutique beers and ciders that rival the best in the country. Our food is fresh paddock-to-plate all the way with gastronomic delights carefully crafted by our award-winning chefs for which the region is renowned.

2.00-4.00pm – Hike and Harvest 

Time to set off and explore the surrounding native bush with our expert guides. We have a number of trails to choose from that weave through pristine wilderness teaming with wildlife – meet some local kangaroos and wallabies, wombats, birds in abundance, lyre birds, monitors and our elusive platypus. See our colonial past as you pass by mining ruins and take in the abundance of native bush foods on which our forefathers and indigenous populations survived. Then quench your thirst with fresh mountain stream water as you unwind and get accustomed to the extraordinary landscape.  Hike to the top of the mountain to gaze over the escarpment from the comfort of your deck chair, raise your glass and take that unforgettable photo. Just sit back and take the time to enjoy the uniqueness of nature’s beauty – you have earned it.

6pm – Sun-downers by the waterhole 

With the sun setting over the water we have the perfect place to enjoy a pre-dinner drink and watch nature light up the sky. And as nature is unpredictable, exciting and untamed, we mix in the whimsical to make our first night a truly exceptional moment. Expect some entertaining surprises.

Sunset 7.18pm

7.30pm Under the Milky Way Gourmet Fire Feast

Sit back and relax as we serve you a char-grilled extravaganza of the finest locally cultivated produce. Platters to satisfy the most ardent meat lover or vegetarian gastronome will be served accompanied by the best of the best Highlands wines: crisp Pinot Grigio, delicate Chardonnay, elegant Riesling or gold-medal winning Pinot Noir depending on your preference.

Add in an optional glow-in-the-dark boules tournament or perhaps night photography under the splendour of the Milky Way guided by one of our award-wining photographers. There are also a few more surprises we don’t want to share just yet!

Make your way back to your inviting 900 thread count sheets by foot or vehicle and expect to see a few nocturnal friends along the way.

SAT 28TH OCT 2017 – Sunrise 5.59am

7.00am Start the day with morning yoga in the bush

Yoga is a group of spiritual, mental and physical disciplines which originated in ancient India and what better way to greet the coming day than in the quiet seclusion of the Australian bush. Deep breathe, stretch your body and leave your troubles behind you as you ready yourself for another day connecting with the wild parts of the world.

7am – 9am – Breakfast

After a steaming hot shower greet the day with fresh baked sourdough smothered in smoky butter, just-roasted coffee or hand-blended tea. Expect a sumptuous feast of freshly baked pastries, organic juices, super food porridge and classic farm-style hearty breakfast options such as free range eggs, locally reared bacon or pancake stacks with fruit and maple syrup.

9.00 – 11.00am – WILD Cycle

Explore the wilderness with our expert guides on mountain bikes and a choice of tracks: a challenging upward track or an exhilarating cycle down into the valley with the wind in your face. Mountain bikes are tailor made to handle our terrain from hard-packed, muddy, rocky, gravel, tree roots to soft form vegetation. They are the prefect vehicle for an adventure along the tracks and trails that make up the Joadja Old Town estate.

All bikes are provided for you and our guides will be on hand to show you the best places to ride. And of course we weave in some unexpected surprises to take your long weekend from ordinary to extraordinary.

12.30 – 2.00pm – Lunch

What better way to enjoy the water than in our custom-built canoes while you sip on award-winning Highlands wines and savour native food canapés? We have designed a central rig that links two canoes together offering not only greater stability to paddle but also a perfect picnic table.

2.30-4.00pm – WILDlife – Meet some of the locals

At WILDfest™ we are for wild and wildlife so we have arranged an out of the ordinary encounter with some of our adorable Australian animal citizens in conjunction with Wildlife Rescue South Coast Inc, HigherGround Raptor and Southern Highlands Koala Sanctuary. Their teams and a licensed exhibitor will be on hand to give you an insight into being a native animal carer and you can get up close with some of our more adorable mammals and birds.

5.30pm WILDfest Native Feast

No festival would be complete without its signature event and WILD Native Feast is ours! Under the stars guests will enjoy a 7 course food adventure carefully curated by Damien Monley of Grand Bistro, Bowral, from the natural bounty of our land. Enjoy a gastronomic treat using hand reared, hand grown and foraged local produce as the heavens put on a show for us.

Damien Monley is Head Chef and owner-operator of Bowral’s stylish Grand Bistro, has run the kitchen in Matt Moran’s eponymous 2-hatted restaurant, London’s internationally renowned Gastropub The White Horse on Parsons Green, the Brooklyn Hotel and has been owner-operator of two successful Sydney eateries, Madame Char Char at Surry Hills and Flat White Cafe, Woollahra.
He’s a man passionate about nature, the provenance of the ingredients and produce he uses, his relationship with local suppliers, and a belief in the joy of eating honest, rustic food.

No remote formal dinner is complete without an acoustic live performance under the milky way, so get ready for it. There is of course a twist. We’ve arranged to provide gentlemen with top hat and tails whilst the ladies are offered gloves and tiaras to add some magic to this signature event. It’s still outdoors though so gumboots all the way!

Sunset 7.19pm

SUNDAY 29TH OCT 2017- Sunrise 5.58am

7am Start the day with Tai Chi in the bush

Tai chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that involves a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner and accompanied by deep breathing. What better way to greet the coming day than in the quiet seclusion of the Australian bush. Deep breathe, stretch your body and leave your troubles behind you as you ready yourself for another day connecting with the wild parts of the world.

7am – 9am Breakfast

Another foodie feast selection to start the day from Brigid Kennedy and her team at The Loch, Berrima.

9.00 – 11.00am WILD Escarpment OR Joadja Ruins 4WD Exploration

Abseiling is not for everyone but if you like a really wild adventure then our team of expert guides will make sure they get your heart pounding as you see nature from a completely new perspective – off the top of the rocky escarpment overlooking Joadja Old Town.  It’s the view any social media addict will covet.You may of course prefer a guided tour in a 4WD exploring the tracks and trails of the 1000 acre Old Town historical site and get a glimpse into our rugged mining past.

12.00 – 1.30pm Lunch

Our last supper together will celebrate all that is amazing about the richness and diversity of food and wine produce from the Highlands region.  Why not pack your bag with a taste of the Highlands to enjoy while you look back on your unforgettable images of WILDfest™

2.00-3.00pm Rejuvenate & Meditate in our Bush Spa

Nothing says relaxation like an open-air bush spa. Opt for a luxurious foot massage to get the circulation going while taking in the peaceful bush views or perhaps a remedial treatment to smooth the knots in your shoulders, back and neck. It’s about shutting the door on the day-to-day, quietening your mind, relaxing your body and remembering what it’s like to feel wild and free.

Checkout from 4pm

Your bags will be collected from your tents and be on hand for your departure. We will transfer you back to your cars or arrange to drop you at your departure point. And for those staying in the Highlands to enjoy Anzac day we will coordinate transfer to your next accommodation choice.

Sunset 7.20pm

When you are not participating in an activity there is as much or as little to do as you desire. Perhaps you want to read a book in our relaxation shade tent at the glamping centre and enjoy a glass of award-wining cold climate wine or walk the 500m to the natural springs for a swim.

Joadja Old Town is teaming with wildlife from kangaroos, koalas and wombat populations to platypus, lyre birds and monitors. Nature offers a great show to just observe or perhaps engaging in conversation with another festival guest is the way to spend a lazy hour.

This is your long weekend so you can opt in and out of activities as you choose and set your own pace. And after check out, the more adventurous are invited to take their own transport to another location for our Twilight Strip N Dip to baptise ourselves in the WILD, just the way nature intended.

For more information or to book this please contact your Alquemie Australian Specialist.

Contact us to begin your tailor-made journey to Australia