After more than 18 months of bad news, there’s finally a sense of optimism in the Australian tourism industry.
The international border will soon be reopened for vaccinated Aussies, with an expectation foreign tourists will be allowed to return a few months later. And it’s hoped that as domestic travel restrictions start to ease again, high vaccination rates mean this is the beginning of the end.
I’m constantly sent updates of new tourism offerings in Australia and, since the pandemic started, I don’t think I’ve seen so many come across my (virtual) desk than I have in recent weeks. There are some really interesting tours and experiences being launched at the moment, just in time for the busy summer period – and these are some of the best.
The Snowy Mountains are more than just ski fields and, to uncover everything they offer, you can enlist the help of some locals. New tour operator Our Snowy has created a series of day tours around the alpine towns of southern New South Wales. Pop into small orchards, vineyards, and breweries to taste the local produce; visit historic homesteads and the haunts of bushrangers; see the power of the Snowy Hydro and the impact it’s had on the region’s communities.
Very soon the new 100-kilometre Sculptures in the Snowies art trail will launch too, with installations planned in the historic towns of Adelong, Batlow, Tumbarumba, and Tooma.
Kiff & Culture
In the north of New South Wales, from Byron Bay and up into the Tweed, some of the country’s best producers and restaurateurs have created a vibrant food scene. New tour operator Kiff & Culture, run by two young Gold Coast guys, takes trips through the region that include long lunches, tastings at a brewery and distillery, with a bit of nature thrown in along the way. It’s perfect for a group of friends who want a fun day of eating and drinking without the hassle of the logistics.
If you’re looking for something a bit more sedate in the region, artisan chocolate company Byron Bay Cacao has launched new workshops for the whole family where you can learn how to make things like macarons.
Museum of Brisbane
Just up the road, the Museum of Brisbane has started a new tour that winds through the city’s streets to see a collection of public art and the way the pieces have been incorporated into public squares, lanes, and foyers. With artworks from the early 1900s to today, it’s an interesting way to see how Brisbane has developed over more than a century.
The Museum of Brisbane already runs two other tours. One takes a look at the history of Spring Hill, including the grisly tale behind the famous Windmill. The other uncovers the stories of Brisbane during the Second World War, with war brides, code breakers, and General MacArthur’s headquarters.
Talaroo Hot Springs
In Far North Queensland, about 350 kilometres’ drive inland from Cairns, are the Talaroo Hot Springs, a unique geological wonder where rainwater from 20,000 years ago bubbles up at a temperature of about 60 degrees. The land is now owned by the local Ewamian people and they’ve just opened the springs for tourists.
There’s a boardwalk around the mounds formed by the natural springs, and private pools for visitors to use. Guided tours cover the geology, ecology, and culture of Ewamian Country, plus there’s a caravan park and campground so you can relax and soak it up for a while.
It seems walking has never been more popular (it’s been the only way some of us have been able to catch up with friends recently) and this is reflected in the boom in walking holidays. But just because you’re in hiking boots, doesn’t mean it can’t be luxurious!
A new six-night tour launched in Victoria by Hedonistic Hiking starts on the state’s south west coast before heading up into the dramatic mountain landscapes of the Grampians. Daily hikes take you to seal colonies, petrified forests, and historic sights while, in the evening, comfortable accommodation awaits, as well as decadent evening meals prepared by some of the region’s best chefs.
Ngadjuri cultural tour
South Australia’s Barossa region is so famous for its wine that often its other aspects are missed. That’s why boutique hotel Lyndoch Hill has started running a cultural tour with a Ngadjuri elder to show people the Indigenous heritage of the land. It covers art and music, the animals and the waterways, and the relationship between the environment and its inhabitants.
Lyndoch Hill also has an excellent restaurant and, although the tour includes a tasting plate of native food, guests can extend the experience to dinner with an indigenous menu and matched fine wines (it is, after all, still the Barossa!).
Tasmanian Wild Seafood Adventures
While Tasmanian Wild Seafood Adventures often uses its 55-foot catamaran for fishing charters and diving expeditions, on Saturday evenings it’s now welcoming guests on a 2-hour sunset cruise (with oysters and sparkling wine) along the calm River Derwent, out to the sea cliffs where you might spot whales, dolphins, and penguins.
For something a bit more opulent, the company also runs a fabulous daytime cruise to Bruny Island where a diver will harvest periwinkles and sea urchins direct from the water to add to the seafood feast that’s served for lunch!You can see more on Michael Turtle’s Travel Australia Today website.