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Maria Island Walk

Why we love the Maria Island Walk

Summer is a wonderful time for walking in Tasmania – days should be sunny and warm, rain rarely falls on the east coast and nights are cool and star studded (the clear skies are perfect for star gazing).   Maria Island (pronounced Mar-aye-a) is an island national park and a natural wildlife sanctuary with historic ruins, sweeping bays, dramatic cliffs and peaks and tall woodlands and this is why we love the Maria Island Walk, one of the Great Walks of Australia.

Friendly Eastern Grey Kangaroos seen on the Maria Island Walk
Friendly Eastern Grey Kangaroos seen on the Maria Island Walk

In addition to the island being one of Tasmania’s great bird watching hot spots (11 of the state’s 12 endemic species can be seen here), wombats, wallabies, kangaroos as well as pademelons and Tasmanian devils are frequently seen.  The waters around the island are a Marine Nature Reserve and are regularly visited by whales, dolphins and seals.

Relaxing in the wilderness on the Maria Island Walk
Relaxing in the wilderness on the Maria Island Walk

Flush with awards (the walk has earned more Gourmet Traveller awards than any other product around the globe) here are 7 reasons why this walk is one of our favourites:

  1. Operating in a national park means all aspects of the walk are eco-friendly
  2. This is a great walk for wildlife spotting and for exploring different habitats
  3. The walk can be easy or moderate.  Without the side-trips the walk is an easy 25km over 3 nights / 4 days; add-in the side-trips and the challenge becomes 43km, some of it quite steep.
  4. The walk is owner operated – not that Ian Johnstone hosts every walk, but he does run the business and is very passionate about what he does.
  5. The walk is easily combined with two of our favourite Tassie destinations – Hobart & Saffire (perfect for a little indulgence after a few days of walking).
  6. During the height of the season the walk operates almost daily so it is an easy fit into a well-planned itinerary.
  7. Food glorious food … Tasmanian produce is some of the best in the world so enjoy delicious meals and a glass of wine each evening.
Maria Island walk - The Dining Hut, with a well earned bottle of red waiting on the table...
Maria Island walk – The Dining Hut, with a well earned bottle of red waiting on the table…

The walks operate in groups of 10 guests and two guides, they include transfers from / to Hobart. For those walkers who prefer not to carry the normal 5-8kg pack, The Maria Island Walk is now offering a “pack-free” experience, where guests’ gear is transferred between camps each day so they only carry their lunch, water, camera and jacket.

A cute Common Wombat seen on the Maria Island Walk
A cute Common Wombat seen on the Maria Island Walk.

Maria Island 2 night Winter Escape experience (May to September)

Winter is also a beautiful time to visit Maria Island. In groups of up to 8 guests guides will show you the island’s beauty and history and amazing wildlife. And then each night, in the warmth and comfort of Bernacchi House, a rare, heritage listed house dating back to 1880. Enjoy a delicious candlelit dinner with fine wines while your guides amaze you with their many fascinating stories of Maria Island. And after the night’s banquet take a stroll on to veranda and marvel at the millions of stars and the fragrance of the lavender garden below.

This really is an experience not to be missed.

 

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The 4 day/ 3 night Murray River Walk – A Great Walk of Australia

The new Murray River Walk is a 40 kilometre (25 mile), easy to moderate walk showcasing the internationally recognised Riverland Ramsar Wetland region of the beautiful Murray River.

It’s a unique addition to the suite of Great Walks of Australia as accommodation is on an exclusive houseboat from where guests walk every day.

The Murray River walk
Unique Houseboat accommodation on the Murray River walk

Starting in Renmark, South Australia, the private trail passes ancient redgum forests, wetlands and red ochre cliffs. Walkers will encounter diverse wildlife and waterbirds along the river, creeks and old oxbow lagoons.

The walk departs weekly on Mondays between April and October and is done in groups of 10. As with all Great Walks of Australia, the food and wine of South Australia’s Riverland food bowl is exceptional.

The Scenic Rim Trail – one of the Great Walks of Australia

The Scenic Rim Trail, one of the Great Walks of Australia, is a 4-day, 3-night walk through South East Queensland’s stunning Main Range National Park. As its name suggests the walk traverses 1,000-metre high mountain rims with picturesque 360 degree views, as well as rainforest and wet eucalyptus forests. Distinct scenery, wildlife and vegetation, divine food and wine along the way, and the sense of exclusivity in 30,000 hectares of parkland make this one of the most unique walks in Australia.

We talk to Kylie Stever, Group Sales Director Spicers Retreats about what she thinks makes this walk so special.

Describe the Scenic Rim Trail experience in 3 words.

Luxurious active escape.

Tell us a little bit about the Scenic Rim Trail and what makes it so unique beyond great food, wine and a very comfortable place to sleep?

Usually when people think of beautiful scenic landscapes, often they will think Tasmania or Western Australia, but unbeknown to many there is a little pocket in South East Queensland that boasts some of the most spectacular mountain ranges, escarpments and forests in the country. We have designed our walk to give guests an exclusive look into Queensland High Country and the Scenic Rim region, with most of our trail traversing through our own private land, previously only touched by early pioneers.

The summit on day 2 of the Scenic Rim Trail
The summit on Day 2 of the Scenic Rim Trail

How is the Scenic Rim Trail pushing the boundaries in guest experiences?

We believe that you shouldn’t have to go without some little touches of luxury that you normally would have to sacrifice when on an active holiday, we want our guests to feel relaxed, indulged and comfortable. From the accommodation to the hike itself, we will go above and beyond for our guests to make sure this experience is a truly unforgettable one.

Scenic Rim Trail
A touch of luxury on the Scenic Rim Trail

What’s a recent innovation at the Scenic Rim Trail?

We feel extremely fortunate to be able to share this beautiful region with our guests, and believe there are many more unexplored places to show them. Given that our international guests are limited for time, we have developed a shorter program; the Scenic Rim Trail Express experience consisting of 2 night/2 days. This experience will be on offer as of March 2017 and will showcase the highlights of this region.

What activity should guests not miss during their experience?

The hot tub of course! After a long day of hiking, there is nothing better than to sit in the hot water in our new cattle trough inspired hot tub, overlooking the twin peaks of Mount Mitchell with a glass of champagne. So make sure you bring your bathers!

Please describe a typical guest.

The great thing about the Scenic Rim Trail is that we don’t have a typical guest! We have many different people all varying in age coming on this trip! We believe that if you have a good level of fitness and a sense of adventure you will enjoy this experience!

 

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Australian walking tours

Walking tours for Mind, Body & Soul

More and more travellers are asking for active options and Australia boasts a great collection of walking tours.  Whilst the benefits to the body are obvious, it is the benefits to the mind and soul that are the real balm to a busy life.

The mind benefits twofold, firstly there is the joy of an escape from technology & everyday interruption.  More subtly however there is the pleasure of learning and challenging your own perceptions as knowledgeable guides inspire thoughts and discussion of regional history, geology, flora & fauna, conservation and the world around us.

Johanna Beach walkers - Great Ocean Road
Johanna Beach walkers – Great Ocean Road

For the soul, well it’s the freedom!  A few days walking is an opportunity to slow the pace of life, to stop and smell the roses (or in this case the melaleucas), to savour a morning cup of coffee watching the light play on blazing ramparts or the deepest blue ocean, to fall asleep under the Milky Way ….

Outback luxury dining on the Arkaba Walk, Flinders Ranges, South Australia
Outback luxury dining on the Arkaba Walk, Flinders Ranges, South Australia

Ranging from three to five nights, guided walks are available in Tasmania, Victoria, Queensland, and Western & South Australia. Costs range from $500 to $950 per person per night and accommodation varies from huts to tents, homesteads and lodges. Delicious meals are included and are often served with good local wine.  Knowledgeable guides lead the walks and it is worth noting that for most of them, it is not just a part-time gig, they do this because they love it … guiding is their career.

Walking in the blue gum forests - the Arkaba walk, Flinders Ranges South Australia
Walking in the blue gum forests – the Arkaba walk, Flinders Ranges South Australia

The collective website Great Walks of Australia is a good place to begin your research but to understand the nuances of each, have a chat with one of the Alquemists.   For example one beach walk is all soft sand and so much tougher than another beach walk; which walk is best for wildlife spotting; which is best in a particular month … that sort of thing, after all we’re the experts.

A well-earned rest at Haunted Bay on Maria Island
A well-earned rest at Haunted Bay on Maria Island

Australia really is the ideal place for walking tours – the subtleties of the Australian bush are best discovered on foot, the sights, the smells and the beautiful light.  Additionally most Walks report that about 80% of their travellers are Australian, and for international travellers this presents a great opportunity to spend quality time and make real friendships with like-minded locals.

View over the majestic Flinders Ranges, Arkaba Station, South Australia
View over the majestic Flinders Ranges, Arkaba Station, South Australia

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