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Wine Tourism

“Wine is bottled poetry.”

—Robert Louis Stevenson

Wine Tourism in Albany

As wine is usually regarded as the most sophisticated of alcoholic beverageswine tourism or enotourism is highly developed in many regions around the world, and it can be as simple as hopping on a wine shuttle in Napa Valley or as complicated as renting a villa in the south of France for a month. Enotourism is a great way to learn about the people, culture, heritage, and customs of an area. Some of the famous wine producing regions of the world have been producing wine for centuries or even millennia, and the production and consumption of wine is deeply ingrained in the local culture. Also, these areas tend to be off the beaten tourist track (although not that far off) so enotourism can expose travelers to new and interesting areas. Getting out and visiting wine producers provides contact with local farmers and artisans who care deeply about the area. Wine growers are farmers, and their perspective on the local area, and life in general, tends to be different from other locals typically encountered while traveling.

For the oenophile, enotourism is a wonderful way to better understand terroir, the difficult to define concept that wine makers often use to describe a key component of their art. Roughly speaking, it has to do with how the quality of the land in which the grapes are grown affects the taste of the wine. Tasting wine at a wine shop or in the comfort of home can provide a hint at the terroir that produced the wine. But spending several days visiting the area, chatting with the wine makers and growers, and eating the local cuisine (which has evolved together with the wine for the two to perfectly complement each other) will provide an exceptional context for the wine and give deep insight into why and how the wine turned out the way it did.

Winery tasting room is no longer simply venues to taste and purchase wine. Many offer a complete tourism experience - including services such as restaurants, accommodation, tours, picnic facilities and recreational facilities. Today's tasting room is a place where visitors can interact with the product, the winemaker & experience first hand, the rich diversity that the wine region has to offer.

The tasting room is simply an essential interface between your brand and your customers, bypassing traditional retail channels and allowing for development of a direct relationship. With this objective in mind, winery cellar doors aim to offer services that meet - and exceed - visitor expectations. Considerable effort is put into design elements that create a relaxed and friendly environment, conducive to the visitors' needs.

INDULGE YOUR SENSES IN ONE OF THE
WORLD'S BIODIVERSITY HOTSPOTS
on the South Coast of Western Australia

Extraordinary biodiversity and a mild Mediterranean climate make the Great Southern Wine Region of Mount Barker, Albany and Denmark a veritable feast of wines, produce, wildflowers and forests. It’s the coolest of WA’s viticulture regions, renowned for its Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Malbec wines.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Great Southern Wine Region
  • Porongurup National Park
  • Albany
  • Denmark

Our wine region is set in some of the most picturesque and un-spoilt countryside in WA. Take time out while you are in the Albany Region and enjoy some of the 26 cellar doors and taste some of famous Riesling. Shiraz and Chardonnay. 

Albany Region is home to Pawny Tort from Jingalla Wines and Oranje Tractor Sparkling Pinot Noir.

Take some time out while you are visiting the Albany Region to wander around the vineyards, enjoy a slower pace of life and enjoy our crisp clean air.

Albany is also the birth place of Western Australian Award Winning Single Malt Whisky.

 

Stay safe

Don't drink and drive.

Bibbulum Track

BIBBULUM TRACK

Windmill Farm along the Bibbulum Track  Image Credit Daisy van Ross

Windmill Farm along the Bibbulum Track  Image Credit Daisy van Ross

 The Bibbulmun Track is one of the world’s great long distance walk trails It stretches almost 1000km from Kalamunda in the Perth Hills, to the Albany Region, winding through the heart of the scenic South West of Western Australia.  This long distance walking path running from Kalamunda, east of Perth, to Albany, is a distance of 963 km. (The name comes from the Bibbulmun, or Noongar people.) There is also a parallel bicycle trail, called the Munda Biddi Trail, for part of the distance

The Denmark to Albany section is approx 85 kms long, but there are many access points where you can pick up the track and take a walk/hike. 

Day Walks

  1. Eden Rd (Nullaki wilderness gate) to Lowlands Beach via Nullaki campsite one-way (17.6km). From Denmark drive east along South Coast Highway for 17km to the Lower Denmark Rd and turn right. Then turn right again into Eden Rd. Drive for approx. 11km along Eden Rd to the wilderness gate. Lowlands Beach can be reached by taking South Coast Highway from Denmark for 17km. Turn right into the Lower Denmark Rd and travel for 6km. Turn right into Tennessee Rd South and drive a further 6km to the beach. Watch for the Track crossing 250m before the beach.
  2. Lowlands Beach to Shelley Beach Rd via West Cape Howe campsite one-way (17.1km). To reach Shelley Beach Rd take the Lower Denmark Rd from Denmark or Albany and turn into Cosy Corner Rd. Drive for 3km then turn right into Coombes Rd and travel a further 3km. turn left onto Shelley Beach Rd and drive for approx. 4.5km to the Track crossing. Watch for Bibbulmun Track signs.
  3. Cosy Corner to Shelley Beach lookout via Torbay campsite and back (17km). 
  4. Mutton Bird Island to Sandpatch one-way (14.7km). From either Denmark or Albany, take the Lower Denmark Rd and turn into Mutton Bird Rd. Drive for approx. 8km to the carpark near the beach. To access Sand Patch, drive along Frenchman Bay Rd from Albany to Princess Avenue and turn right. Follow this road for 6km to the windfarm (Princess Avenue becomes Sand Patch Rd after veering to the left near the prison)

Taken from the Bibbulum Track Website

Western Australia

Western Australia is Australia's largest state by land area, making up the western third of the continent. It is the world's second largest sub-national entity, after the Sacha Republic in Russia. Most of the 2.6 million citizens live in or around Perth, leaving most of the inland uninhabited.

A romantic Sunset at The Sandpatch Albany Western Australia.  Image Credit: SKYPRINTS

A romantic Sunset at The Sandpatch Albany Western Australia.  Image Credit: SKYPRINTS

Cities

  • Perth — The state capital of Western Australia and one of the most remote large cities in the world
  • Albany — the largest town in the south of the state
  • Broome — gateway to the Kimberley and a fashionable tourist destination among Australians
  • Esperance — on the south coast, next stop Antarctica, with a fine coastline and beaches
  • Kalgoorlie-Boulder — a relatively large mining town in the east, as remote as remote gets
  • Kununurra — final stop before you enter the Northern Territory
  • Mandurah — a rapidly growing city nestled between estuary and ocean is popular for fishing and crabbing

Other destinations

Pinnacles Desert in Western Australia

  • Kalbarri National Park — explore vibrantly coloured gorges and cliffs sculpted by the Murchison River as it flows to the sea
  • Coral Bay and Exmouth — 1250km from Perth, are gateways to the magnificent Ningaloo Reef
  • Karijini National Park — a major destination in the Pilbara, featuring huge canyons and gorges, and nice hikes through majestic scenery
  • Margaret River — a fine winery and surfing region about 250 km south of Perth, a weekend playground for Perth.
  • Pinnacles Desert — an eerie landscape of limestone pillars rising from the sand about 100 km north of Perth
  • Shark Bay — on the westernmost point of Australia, the small town is known for stromatolites and the dolphins at Monkey Mia
  • Southern Forests — get among lush ancient forests around Denmark and Pemberton where towering karri and marri trees fringe the rugged coastline of D'Entrecasteaux National Park

Understand

The large majority of the 2 million inhabitants live in the southwestern part of the state, in or close to Perth, the capital and the most isolated city of this size anywhere in the world. Outside of the Perth area there are fewer than 500,000 people, hence the demoynm Sandgropers. The largest towns outside Perth metro include Albany and Broome, less than 30,000 population each depending on seasonal fluctuations. Beyond the coast, Western Australia's vast interior is very sparsely populated, with only a handful of townships with over a few thousand residents. Mining settlements and cattle stations are thinly-spread so it is all too easy to find yourself alone in a 100 mile radius.

One of this state's main attraction is precisely its overall remoteness and huge expanses of untouched scenery.

Geography

Mount Augustus is widely claimed to be the world's largest monolith

Western Australia covers about third of the total land mass of Australia. It encompasses climatic zones from the monsoonal and tropical north, to the temperate and Mediterranean south, and the desert and barren inland. Apart from the south-western coast, the majority of the land is extremely old, eroded, flat, arid and infertile.

Many of the population centres are isolated from one another, and from the other populated zones of Australia. This and the tough environment may account for a more independent spirit than in the eastern states.

The vastness of the state is certainly not to be underestimated when planning your trip. If it were a country, it would be in the top 10 by area, as large as Argentina, larger than any African or European country, and twice the size of Alaska. It is the largest sub-national administrative division in the world besides the Sakha Republic in Russia.

Perth and the south-west corner including Margaret River and Albany are easily accessible. Visiting much of the rest of the state requires some planning, and will probably require some long drives. Never plan on doing a road trip, without clearly telling either the authorities or someone else, on your planned route, as you could have considerable delays if you break down. Make sure you always have lots of water (and spare fuel) with you.

History

Western Australia was discovered by the Dutch explorer Dirk Hartog in 1616 while en route to what is now known as Jakarta. In the following decade, other Dutch explorers would encounter the land here, but with no apparent natural resources to exploit, left as quickly as they came. During the late 18th century, the British and the French began to explore the more Southern regions of Western Australia and in 1826 the British decided that King George Sound would be a suitable location for a settlement. Three years later the Swan River Colony was established and this would later become the city of Perth. The state grew slowly until the discovery of gold in Kalgoorlie in the 1890s, which led to a huge influx of people.

Western Australia is the only state to never have been part of New South Wales and is the only Australian state to have tried to leave the federation, voting to secede in 1933. A delegation was sent to Britain to petition parliament to pass the legislation needed to enable independence, but it was determined that the British parliament did not have the necessary powers to pass such legislation. The suggestion of secession still appears in the Western Australian media from time to time and generally gains most attention during mining booms. A minority of Western Australians support the idea.

Time Zone

Western Australia is in the Australian Western Standard Time zone, 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (UTC+8). It doesn't observe daylight savings time, and is two hours behind the east coast of Australia during winter, and falls three hours behind New South WalesVictoria, and Tasmania when they move to daylight savings. Note that not all of W.A. is in the same time zone! Residents of towns east of Caiguna on the Eyre Highway (including EuclaMaduraMundrabilla and Border Village) in the south-east corner near the South Australian border do not follow official Western Australian time. Instead, they use what is unofficially known as Central Western Standard Time, which is halfway between Western and Central time--UTC+8:45.

Getting there

By plane

Perth airport in Western Australia with most regular international flights, however Skywest also fly from Pt Hedland to Bali in Indonesia.

The vast majority of interstate flights also land in Perth. However there are a small number of interstate flights to KalgoorlieKununurraKarratha and Broome. Skywest has a weekly flight from Kalgoorlie to Melbourne, however it may still be cheaper to fly Kalgoorlie - Perth - Melbourne depending on the travel dates desired.

The price of flights from other Australian capital cities to Perth fluctuates wildly. The red-eye overnight flights can often be obtained at a discount over the more civilised flight times.

By car

Considering the huge distances, driving into Western Australia from anywhere else is an experience by itself.

There are only two sealed roads into Western Australia: in the south, the Eyre Highway is the most direct route from Adelaide to Perth. In the north, the Victoria Highway connects the Kimberley region with the Northern Territory up to Darwin. Both involve extremely long drives. Perth-Adelaide is at least 3 days of driving with stops only to sleep, and much of the drive is across the extraordinarily barren Nullabor Plain. Darwin-Perth is at least a week.

It is often possible to organise one-way car hire without additional fees from Adelaide to Perth. Shop around, and check conditions carefully, as some cars hired in Adelaide cannot even be driven into Western Australia.

The unsealed Great Central Road, Tanami Track and Gunbarrel Highway run between the Northern Territory and remote Western Australian towns.

By rail[

There is one railway connecting Western Australia with the eastern states. The Indian Pacific train service runs between Sydney and Perth via KalgoorlieAdelaide and Broken Hill. More expensive than air travel, but you can put your car on the train. The train ride is a unique experience in itself, as it can take 3 nights to get to Sydney at the other end of the line and you see a lot of rugged beauty along the way.

Quarantine

There are quarantine rules if you are coming from other states in Australia. You cannot bring fruits and vegetables (including seeds and cuttings) into Western Australia. Frozen fresh food is also not allowed but you will be OK with commercially packaged foods, except honey and bee products. There are quarantine checkpoints set up on the state borders and rules are strictly enforced. Inspectors board trains into the state to check passengers, and there are checkpoints at all airports.

If you are arriving directly from overseas, additional quarantine rules apply. See the Australia article for details.

Get around

By car

If you want to travel across WA by road, be ready to drive a lot to get from point A to point B. There are only a limited number of sealed roads (any map of the state will probably show you all of them), if you plan to leave them to get to more remote areas you will need to consider renting a 4WD. Contact the company to which you rent the vehicle to check the policy concerning driving on unsealed tracks, as you might have to get their authorization. Driving a rented conventional (non-4WD) vehicle on an unsealed track may breach your rental contract and void your insurance. Check with the local depot before arriving.

Distances[edit]

Never under-estimate the distance involved in travelling around Western Australia. Fatigue from long drives annually kills drivers from overseas, falling asleep at the wheel is a genuine issue.

  • Perth to Albany is 409 km
  • Perth to Broome is 2,237 km
  • Perth to Port Hedland is 1,646 km
  • Perth to Exmouth is 1,260 km
  • Perth ro Kalgoorlie is 596 km

Always make allowance for fuel stops, rest stops, toilet stops, refreshment stops. There is a speed limit on all roads, never catchup with speed.

Sealed highways and byways

Unsealed (dirt) roads and tracks

Track in Western Australia

Unsealed roads require preparation and research. They should not be taken lightly, and you would be unwise to just set off down a dirt road without having done your homework. Be cautious. On some more remote tracks, it could be weeks until anyone finds you or your body if you break down. Road conditions, weather, availability of fuel and spares, contact (phone/radio), and survival supplies should be on your checklist.

The Gunbarrel Highway may not be what you would think of as a highway. It may not even be what you would think of as a road.

That said, some of the best scenery and adventures that Western Australia has to offer lies on its dirt roads. Some can be traversed, slowly, and with care, by an average driver. Study your route, and be prepared for conditions.

  • The legendary Canning Stock Route is an 1800 km long cattle track from Willuna in the northern Goldfields to Halls Creek in the Kimberley, crossing the inner desert parts of the state. It is one of the most remote tracks on the planet, with absolutely no facilities, fuel or food supplies, and runs hundred kilometers from any civilization. Prior fuel dropping arrangements and thorough research about the dangers involved in the crossing are absolute prerequisites. Attempting the track in the summer is madness.
  • The 650 km long Gibb River Road crosses through the heart of the Kimberley in the North through majestic scenery, with some facilities along the route. Open only during the dry.
  • The Gunbarrel Highway crosses the heart of the continent from Wiluna to Kata Tjuta in the Northern Territory.
  • The comparatively easier Tanami Track crosses the Tanami desert to the Red Centre in Northern Territory.
  • The Great Central Road, regularly graded, may be attempted by strong 2WD (with very cautious and prepared drivers). It crosses several aboriginal lands (for which you will need permits) right to Kata Tjuta in the Northern Territory.

By plane

Given the distances involved, plane travel is a vital connection to many Western Australian communities. Many towns based on mining have private 'Fly-in Fly-out' (FIFO) services for their employees, which are difficult for travellers to access.

Most larger towns have some form of commercial scheduled air service. Charter services are commonly available to access more remote areas, and airstrips available for landing are available even in the very smallest towns. If you can get a group of 6 together, a charter flight need not cost significantly more than a scheduled commercial service, but don't expect to be able to each take your 23kg suitcase on board.

By train

Train services are limited outside of Perth and Mandurah. In addition to the Great Southern Railway's Indian Pacific, there are three regional train services, all operated by TransWA, that depart from Perth to various country towns in the south and south-east of the state:

  • The Australind, runs from Perth to Bunbury and back, every morning and evening.
  • The Prospector, runs from East Perth to Kalgoorlie, with coach connections onto Esperance.
  • The Avonlink, runs from East Perth to Merredin, in the Wheatbelt.

These regional rail services are not "walk on" services like inner-city rail; tickets to board these services must be purchased in advance, either online at the TransWA website, or from various TransWA booking offices located around the state, usually in areas serviced by the TransWA regional rail and coach network.

By coach

Coach Services comprehensively cover the southern regions of the state, publicly operated by TransWA. These coach services connect Perth to various regional towns, as far north as Geraldton and Meekatharra, as far south as Albany, and as far east as Kalgoorlie and Esperance.

These regional coach services are not "walk on" services like inner-city bus services; tickets to board these services must be purchased in advance, either online at the TransWA website, or from various TransWA booking offices located around the state, usually in areas serviced by the TransWA regional rail and coach network.

Other private coach services also operate, such as Greyhound that runs a coastal service from Perth through to Broome, and into Darwin via Kununurra.

See

If WA does not quench your thirst of (harsh) wilderness, it is unlikely that anywhere else in the world will. That said, most visitors stay within the very civilised areas of the southwest corner and Broome, which have many attractions and well developed facilities.

  • Ancient forms of life. Thrombolites at Lake Clifton and stromatolites at Shark Bay are rock-like mounds built by micro-organisms that resemble some of the earliest forms of life on earth. edit

One of the eleven convict sites making up the UNESCO World Heritage site "Australian Convict Sites" is located in Western Australia; the Fremantle Prison.

Do]

Besides driving, which can be an experience for some (being on the only sealed road for hundreds of kilometers, without crossing anyone, might be either disturbing or enjoyable to most of Western Europe drivers). The regions for surfing on its beaches include, the south west corner in the Margaret River region.

Dive

  • Ningaloo Reef near Coral Bay. probably the place to dive with abundant coral, marine life and a good chance of seeing a whale shark (in season).
  • Rottnest Island. Not far off Perths coast its has many underwater caves that are worth exploring.

Hike

  • Bibbulmun Track, ☎ +61 8 9481 0551, e-mail: friends@bibbulmuntrack.org.au. A hike on the nearly 1000km trail from Perth to Albany, passing through many south west towns is arguably one of the best walks in WA. The signposted trail wanders through forest, wetland, coastal, and grassland environments to campsites equipped with a three-sided timber shelter, rainwater tank and toilets. Pocket sized map books can be bought from the Bibbulmun track Foundation. If taking on the entire length is too daunting, several sections make good 2-5 day jaunts. edit
  • Cape to Cape (Cape to Cape Track), ☎ +61 8 9752 5555, e-mail: info@capetocapetrack.com.au. The 135km trail between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park meanders around precipitous coastal scenery, forests and along beaches. Periodic established campsites a offer a spot to pitch your tent, toilet and watertank. The northern trailhead is 15km south of Dunsborough and ends 6km shy of Augusta, passing through four towns along the way. edit
  • Munda Biddi Trail (Mountain bike only track), ☎ +61 8 9481 2483, e-mail: admin@mundabiddi.org.au. If you prefer two wheels the 498km Munda Biddi Trail goes from Mundaring in the Perth hills to Nannup in the South West. The trail varies in terrain but is not extraordinarily challenging, making it a pleasant ride for all ability levels. Campsites with shelters are spaced a days ride apart and towns along the way give you chance to return to civilisation. edit
  • Railway Reserve Heritage Trail. An easy, but interesting, trail in the Perth Hills that follows a 40km loop along the route of the former Eastern Railway abandoned in the late 50's. The most popular stretch is in John Forrest National Park from Swan View to Hovea passing through the spooky Swan View tunnel, over a decaying wood framed bridge to the magnificent Hovea Falls. The areas relatively unspoilt bushland is a major wildlife corridor so it's not uncommon to see groups of kangaroos at dusk among other native animals. edit
  • Kep Track (Mountain bike, walking & horse riding track), ☎ +61 8 9295 0202. The well marked track follows the Northam - Mundaring Weir railway reserve and part of the water pipeline. It is a 90KM 1-2 day cycling trip or a 3-4 day walking trip. Food, water and accommodation is somewhat limited along the route. Campsites are non existent but there are refreshment and food options at Northam, Clackline, Bakers Hill, Chidlow, Mundaring. edit

Swim

  • Cable Beach in Broome. One of Western Australia's most well known beaches, with warm water and sand swept clean by the tides every day. You can't swim there from October until May because of Box Jellyfish (as with any beach north of Exmouth). Irukandji are also a risk at other times of year, and the beach can also be closed if a crocodile cruises past. 
  • Lake Argyle in Kununurra. As one of the largest man made lakes in Australia Lake Argyle is a good place for a dip with the friendly crocodiles. Kununurra also has a number of secluded waterholes around that make a refreshing place to float about with a beer during the humid wet season.
  • Serpentine Falls in Serpentine. Located a 35 minute drive east of Mandurah, is an excellent place for a swim. 
  • Twilight Beach in Esperance. Some claim this is the best beach in Australia. Others say it is only Western Australia's best. Regardless, the white sand, clear water and rounded headland make an impression on all visitors. 

Eat

Perth and the larger towns have the usual range of restaurants. Australian influenced Thai, Chinese and cafes are common. Pubs can usually be relied upon for an evening meal in most towns and roadhouses have a range of sandwiches, burgers and sometimes more substantial cooked meals. Trips away from the major towns will probably require some amount of self-catering.

  • Truffles – An item you wouldn't expect to come out of WA is the opulent black fungus that's favoured by trendy restaurants in the better part of town. While the local variety isn't considered to be equal to its European counterparts, it exhibits the characteristic taste and smell that justifies the high prices it demands. Truffle growing in the state is still in its infancy but in recent years the industry has grown large enough to support two festivals. At the end of May the Truffle Hunts in Manjimup are held with capacity limited to the 100 epicureans indulgent enough to pay $245 for trufflesque tours, hunting and eating. Somewhat more egalitarian is the Mundaring Truffle Festival  held at the end of July where you can wander between a multitude of truffle related stalls while you wait for the next free food talk or demonstration. The $10 entry fee lets you see and taste quite a bit.
  • Marron – is a freshwater crustacean with delicate meat quite different to its salt water relatives. Trendy restaurants might have it on the menu during the right season but the best way to enjoy it is by casting a trap into a dam or water way and boiling it up on a campfire. You will need a fishing licence to catch them legally or there are many marron farms in the south west where you can buy a few of them frozen or still kicking.

Drink

Beer

  • Fremantle has a number of micro-breweries. The most well known is Little Creatures, housed in an old boat shed where they serve a pale ale straight from the conditioning tank.
  • Kimberley residents love a drink, so it's no surprise that Matso's Brewery in Broome has a rightful reputation among hopheads for making some fine brews.
  • The Swan Valley in Perth's outskirts is known for its wine but also makes some decent drops of the amber variety. Duckstein Brewerey is one of the states first micro-brewers and produces a range of German style beers that are particularly popular around Oktoberfest time. You can take a look at their copper brewing kettle and then sample an ale in the garden.

Coffee

A debate about the quality of coffee in WA grumbles on endlessly, with many visitors claiming a decent cup near impossible to find in the west and locals countering that they are just not looking in the right place. Subjective bean preferences aside, it is agreed that coffee is generally more expensive than in Eastern capitals and a higher price (averaging $3.80, but up to $5) does not necessarily buy you a better cup.

  • Northbridge, Fremantle, Subiaco, Mount Lawley and the CBD in and around Perth have the highest concentration of cafes where you are more likely to get a decent espresso.
  • Outside of the metro area it can be hit and miss, but you might improve your chances around Albany and Margaret River where a couple of boutique roasters have operations and coffee sits in the same circles as the gourmet food and wine scene.
  • Non-aficionados who prefer a little coffee in their milk drink might be disappointed that they are well over three thousand kilometres from the nearest Starbucks. However, they should be satisfied enough with the Dome and Gloria Jeans chains that have outlets state-wide.

Spirits

  • Kununurra in the Kimberley is home to the Hoochery Distillery, the oldest continuously operating rum producer in WA (est. 1995), where local cane sugar is used to make some pretty potent booze. Though it's aged in oak barrels it's still a harsh gulp but the high alcohol percentage, up to 70%, hits in the right way. Tours of the distilling operations run in the peak season.
  • Albany - Great Southern Distillery a boutique distillery located on the harbour in Albany, Western Australia. They produce small batch whiskies and a variety of spirits. Open daily for tastings, lunch, coffees and tours. International Award Winning

Wine

Western Australian viticulture may not produce the large volumes of the wineries on the east of Australia, but the vineyards here are known for producing quality over quantity.

  • The Margaret River wine region. was only established in the late 1960s but has since built a reputation as an eminent producer of premium wines, particularly Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties. Around 90 vineyards have their cellardoor open for tastings and sales, providing plenty of opportunities for serious libations. 
  • Swan Valley. in the outskirts of Perth was one of the first places in the old colony where grapes were grown for wine, however it really developed as a wine region in the 1920s when migrant Croatian and Italian families established many of the wineries that still exist today. The valley overflows with a myriad of wine related attractions along the Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail and hosts no less than three festivals a year. 

Camping

Western Australia has an abundance of places to pitch a tent or roll out a swag. Many campsites in National Parks have managed sites with facilities toilet and cooking facilities. Most charge a fee of $7-9 per person, per night. Campsites can fill up quickly during long weekends and school holiday periods, especially in the South-West.

Stay safe

  • The vastness of Western Australia requires travellers to be careful when going into remote areas, that is off the main sealed (asphalt) highways. When leaving sealed roads and entering remote unsealed tracks, advise someone you trust of your movements of your expected time/date of arrival, and your travel intentions. Ensure they will contact authorities if you do not arrive on time. Make sure you check back with them to avoid needless searches. Check with local officials about the conditions of unsealed roads, especially during the wet season during which these roads are likely to be difficult to travel or impassible. Seek advice from locals when fording rivers, as many become swollen and deep/fast during the wet season.
  • Always swim between the flags at patrolled beaches. Strong currents can be dangerous to novice swimmers. Box Jellyfish are at beaches and estuaries as far south as Exmouth in season, and can be deadly. Check with lifeguards. Saltwater crocodiles are found as far south as Broome year round in freshwater and saltwater (rivers, streams, waterholes, and beaches).
  • Many remote rural and outback areas in Western Australia are home to kangaroos and other mammals, reptiles and birds that will cross the roads, especially at dawn and dusk. So try to avoid driving at these times (kangaroos are most active at these times) and always be alert.
  • Ross River virus is endemic in the south-west of Western Australia. The mosquitoes that carry the virus are particularly active around dusk in coastal areas from Perth to Albany.
  • Snakes are widespread throughout all Australia - know the precautions and first aid before going into the bush. Redback spiders are also very common in sheds/garages, and underneath chairs. Bites are fairly common and sometimes need anti-venom. Seek medical advice if bitten by a spider.

Events and Festivals Around Australia

Events and Festivals

Image Credit: Lodge Devotion

Image Credit: Lodge Devotion

For a listing of events in Australia by month, see also Events and Festivals in Australia

  • ANZAC Day specifically commemorates the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps that landed at Gallipoli, Turkey in World War I and more generally honours the contribution that Australian soldiers have made in various wars. There are major parades and commemoration services in all the cities as well as a minute of silence. ANZAC day is on the 25th of April.
  • The Melbourne International Comedy Festival features comedians from around the world and runs for several weeks each year. It is widely considered one of the top 3 comedy festivals in the world, along with the comedy festivals in Montreal and Edinburgh.
  • Mardi Gras - Every year between the end of February and the first Saturday of March, Sydney’s Darlinghurst district transforms into the heart of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival. Attracting millions from around the globe, art and cultural events including a massive parade dominate. Visitors of all sexual preference are known to have a grand time.
  • New Years Eve in Sydney - Although there are significant New Year's celibrations in other Australian cities, the Sydney event has gained a reputation as one of the biggest parties in the world. Travellers wanting to see the fireworks spectacle in Sydney should ensure accommodation is booked well in advance, as options become very limited (and hideously expensive) close to the date.
  • Outdoor Music Festivals are extremely popular in Australia, particularly over the summer months - check out some of the annual festivals by state: Outdoor Music Festivals in Victoria (Australia)Outdoor Music Festivals in New South Wales
  • Gold Coast Indy Gold Coast Indy 300 is a 4-day and night event held in Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. This highly anticipated annual event has been running since 1991 and continues to draw crowds of thousands. In 2005 alone Indy welcomed a crowd of over 315,000 patrons for a long weekend filled with motor racing, entertainment and celebrities.
  • Brisbane Riverfestival Each year, the festival offers a program of free and ticketed events in various locations around the Brisbane city centre. It will feature local and international artists, emerging fringe theatre, spectacular fireworks, the popular Brisbane Backyards series, RiverBBQ and inspiring conversation and debate. The Brisbane Festival aims to connect Brisbane’s artists with diverse communities and is one of Australia's leading international arts events.The festival is produced by Major Brisbane Festivals, an Australian production company with a world class reputation for creating and delivering outstanding cultural programs. Previously a biennial event, the Festival has now merged with Riverfestival, to make it one of the most inclusive and diverse annual arts festivals in Australia.
  • Global Green Challenge - or the World Solar Challenge, a race with solar cars from Darwin to Adelaide, usually during October. 
  • Australia Day - Australia Day commemorates the anniversary of the first fleet landing on January 26, 1788. Head to the nearest beach or park for a fun-filled day of barbecues, celebrations, and evening fireworks. Even though indigenous Australians generally don’t celebrate this day, most of Australia views this as the year’s most anticipated event. Since the first fleet landed at Sydney Cove, the area around the Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay, and the Harbour Bridge is where the most extravagant celebrations are held.
  • Dreaming Festival - Held in the small town of Woodford, just a 90 minute drive from Brisbane, the Dreaming Festival is a national showcase that puts this small town on the map. Held in June over three days, this event highlights the best of indigenous culture, including craft workshops, dancing, music, cooking events, and storytelling.
  • AFL Grand Final Day - On the third Saturday in September, Melbourne braces itself for the most anticipated sporting event in the country: the AFL Grand Final. Just being in Melbourne during this time is spectacular, but having tickets to the game is astounding. The color, the shows, the soccer, and the non-stop buzz is almost unseen anywhere else in the world.
  • Melbourne International Arts Festival - For 17 days in October, Melbourne is on show to the world. Its international arts festival is a bustling and thriving event that showcases dance, music, art, and other cultural performances. Fitzroy Gardens, Southbank, Federation Square, and the Botanical Gardens are just some of the hosting arenas spread around town.
  • The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival runs for two weeks around March each year.

Reprinted with permission under Creative Commons Licence  Travellers Guide

Getting Around Australia

Getting Around

Image Credit: Tourism Australia

Image Credit: Tourism Australia

Australia's size warrants air travel between major cities. For those with more time on their hands, Australia has some excellent highways and roads.

By Plane

The domestic airline industry is currently dominated by Qantas, Virgin Australia, Jetstar (a low-cost Qantas subsidiary) and most recently, Tiger Airways. Since the entry of Virgin Australia into the market, prices have become much more competitive, particularly between major cities.

Several dozens of airlines operate on the domestic market though, and apart from the larger ones mentioned above, there are also smaller airlines operating within certain areas of the country, like Air North and some very small airlines servicing outback landing strips. 
For more information about the airports and destinations, see the 'getting there' section, which also has links to the main airports and their destinations.

By Bus or Train

Buses and trains provide another option for travelling between cities. All long-distance services are of a high standard, air-conditioned and clean. The most famous train journeys are The Indian Pacific (Sydney - Adelaide - Perth), The Ghan (Adelaide - Alice Springs - Darwin) and The Overland (Melbourne - Adelaide), but thanks to their prestige, they are also expensive - much more so than travelling by air. However, you miss out on all the scenery on the way - and of course, train travel is better for the environment! For more information about schedules and prices check the Rail Australia website.

For the very long distances travelled in Australia, bus travel can be uncomfortable because you can't get up to stretch your legs - but there's no doubt that taking the bus is the cheapest way to get around. Go to any backpackers' hostel and you'll find plenty of choice. Look out for the smaller operators who run services travelling off the major highways - the trip will take longer but will be much more interesting.

By Car

Travellers with a valid overseas licence can drive in Australia without the need for any other licence, provided the licence is in English (or has an English translation). You must carry your licence with you whenever you are driving. 
Hiring a car is pretty simple and cars can range from cheap to high quality. Air conditioning is essential during the hot summer months! Remember to drive on the left. If in doubt about the speed limit, drive 50 km/h in cities and towns or 100 km/h on highways.

Although touring by car can seem attractive (and in fact, many Australians dream of doing a round-Australia road trip), the reality can be very different. Distances are far longer than many visitors are used to, and the scenery can be surprisingly monotonous. Sydney to Brisbane is a 12-hour drive, and while the Australian bush looks exotic at first, it has much less variety than a European or American landscape. If you are thinking of driving by car, make sure you allow plenty of time to recover as you will get tired from long periods of driving. Avoid driving at night, as this is when most of Australia's freight is on the roads in huge trucks, and accidents are common.

Having said that, public transport in smaller towns is scarce, so having a car is useful if you want to visit sights away from the major cities. There are plenty of companies you could choose to hire a car from, including RedspotAvisBudgetEuropcarHertzAirport Rentals and Thrifty. Car hire is often not available to drivers under 25, or if it is, it's more expensive for younger drivers (generally the additional insurance cost, varying on the provider, is around $25-$40 per day is added to the daily rental cost).

By Boat

If you decide to visit Tasmania, you can get there by ferry (Spirit of Tasmania) from Melbourne. The service runs most nights between Melbourne and Devonport and during peak periods there is also a day service. Most people who use the ferry are Australians who want to take their own car with them. It's hard to justify otherwise, as it's more expensive than going by air.

Reprinted with permission under Creative Commons Licence  Travellers Guide

Australian Weather

Weather

Skyprints Albany

Australia is a large continent, so weather conditions vary greatly from one side to the other. However in general, summers are warm to hot and winters (May to September) are mild. Snow falls only on high ground.

Inland, much of the country is desert or semi-desert (the famous Outback). Summer days can be intolerably hot but nights are cold, especially during winter. The far north, including Kakadu and the Daintree forest, is lush and tropical because of the drenching rains and humidity of their summer - so it's best to visit these places in the Dry season from May to September, when the skies are a clear dazzling blue and the air is warm.

Most Australians live on the coast because the climate is at its most pleasant there, ranging from tropical to Mediterranean as you travel south. Much of the south coast has a more European (i.e. unpredictable) climate - in Melbourne there is a saying, "if the weather doesn't suit you, wait 10 minutes".

If you are planning a working holiday of longer than 6 months, don't make the mistake of leaving all your warm clothing behind - you will acclimatise after a few weeks of 30 °C heat, and a balmy evening will suddenly feel quite chilly.