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Category Archives:Australia/NZ/Oceania

3 Day Brisbane Itinerary: The Ultimate Weekend Guide

Brisbane, known to locals as the River City. Known to everyone else as BrisVegas. Not because it’s a hotspot for gambling, more because it’s fun and the name lends itself to such a nickname. If you’re heading to the capital of Queensland for a few days, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favourite laneways in which to eat, neighbourhoods to drink, and I’ve even thrown in a bonus at the end.

Read on, comrade. Continue Reading

Australia Zoo: More than Just Crocodiles and Stingrays

This is a guest post authored by Dan Claydon of Wanderpig.

Every year, thousands of people visit Australia Zoo. The home of the infamous Crocodile Hunter and a diverse range of animals, you will be able to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most magnificent species.

Situated on Queensland’s stunning sunshine coast, Australia Zoo not only allows visitors to experience amazing animal encounters, but the zoo is also heavily involved in animal conservation, meaning you’ll be able to learn more about the fantastic work the “Zoo crew” do to help protect some of the world’s most endangered animals.

Kangaroos Lazing around at Australia Zoo, Qld

Offering the ultimate wildlife experience, when you visit the Zoo, you’ll be able to feed the animals, adopt animals and even become a zookeeper for the day. So, it’s definitely worth a visit!

But here’s more about what you can expect when you visit Australia Zoo.

The Irwins

The Irwin family is a massive part of Australia Zoo, and it is mainly thanks to their exceptional efforts and commitment to animal conservation that the zoo is now recognised as one of the biggest and best wildlife conservation parks on the planet.

Steve, Terri, Bindi and Robert have all played a crucial role in creating a haven for over one hundred different species of animals, including the crocodile (Steve Irwin’s favourite). Terri, Bindi and Robert can often be seen working at the zoo, as they carry on the fantastic legacy and work of the late Steve Irwin.

And their love and passion for animals is apparent throughout the zoo, especially when it comes to educating visitors about the world of animal conservation.

Crocodile show at Australia Zoo Qld
Crocodile show at Australia Zoo

Animals

Australia Zoo is home to a whole host of amazing animals. From tigers, cheetahs and giraffes, through to lizards, snakes and wombats, Australia Zoo prides itself on creating a great environment for its animals, allowing them to roam freely in environments that are as close to their natural habitat as possible.

Home to a vast range of mammals, birds and reptiles, a visit to Australia Zoo will allow you to observe some of the world’s rarest and most threatened wildlife!

Giant Tortoises at Australia ZooMammals

From Camels, Cheetahs, Dingoes, Echidnas, Giraffes and Goats, through to Kangaroos, Koalas, Lemurs, Red Panda Rhinoceros and Tasmanian Devils, you’re sure to find your favourite mammal at Australia Zoo.

Living mostly on land, aside from Dolphins and Whales, you’ll be able to discover some of the planet’s most misunderstood mammals. But that’s not all you’ll also be able to come into contact with many of the animal kingdom’s least feared, cute and cuddly mammals too, such as the Koala.

Sleeping Koala at the Australia Zoo Qld-2
Sleeping Koala at the Australia Zoo

Birds

From Cormorants, Exotic Parrots and Pittas Raptors through to Ratites, Stone Curlews, Storks and Cranes Australia is also home to an extensive range of birds that add a new and exciting dimension to the zoo’s collection of animals.

Cassowary at the Australia Zoo Qld
Cassowary at the Australia Zoo

Reptiles

One of Australia Zoo’s main goals is to change perceptions when it comes to understanding the most feared and misunderstood animals.

And with many reptiles fitting into this category, a lot of the team’s work centres around showing us that we have nothing to fear when it comes to getting up close and personal with reptiles such as venomous snakes, Boas, Crocodilians and Lizards.

Some sort of lizard turtle at the Australia Zoo

Zoo Tours

The perfect way to take in the sights and sounds of Australia Zoo, there are a whole host of Zoo Tours available that will allow you to enjoy behind the scenes animal encounters, observe Australia’s animal experts in action, and even play with and feed a wombat.

From the platinum Zoo Adventure that will allow you to enjoy to the ultimate VIP treatment and the undivided attention of one of Australia Zoo’s expert handlers as you explore the zoo through to the Furry Fun tour that has been designed encourage visitors to meet and feed animals such as Red Panda and Wombats, there are an extensive range of tours to choose from.

Snakes at Australia Zoo, Qld

Other unique experiences include Conservation Crusaders, which will take you on a tour of one of the biggest Wildlife hospitals in the world.

Another popular tour is Extreme animals. If you’re brave enough to commit to this ultimate wildlife experience, you will be able to get hands on with the animal’s kingdoms fiercest animals such as Cheetahs, Rhinos, Tigers and the infamous Komodo Dragon.

Summing-up

Above all, Australia Zoo provides the ultimate animal experience for the entire family to enjoy, allowing kids and big kids to enjoy unique animal encounters, whilst learning lots of animal facts as you explore the zoo in the sunshine.

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Australia Zoo - More than just crocodiles and stingrays


Wet’n’Wild Sydney Review – Balancing fun and relaxation

Wet’n’Wild has been a mainstay in the Gold Coast for a long time now so when one opened in Sydney it was only a matter of time until we visited. That time came on a hot weekend in November and we were lucky to have a perfect, sunny day of about 28 degrees (Celsius).

First Impressions of Wet’n’Wild Sydney

My first impression of the park was that it wasn’t as big as I was expecting. At most theme parks you need a map to find anything and plan your day accordingly. At Wet’n’Wild Sydney this is not the case and although this sounds like a negative, it works in their favour because it is big enough to house plenty of slides and activities to keep you entertained for an entire day, but small enough that you don’t need to make any plan, you just float wherever you feel like going next – sometimes literally.

The extreme rides at Wet n wild Sydney

My second impression was that there were not many people there. This might be because it is pretty early season but I didn’t ask too many questions because I could park right near the gate and I walked straight on to just about every slide I wanted to without queueing. I imagine as school holidays hits in December this will be a completely different story.

Overview of the Park – what is there?

Wet’n’Wild Sydney centres around an enormous man-made beach with the largest sun umbrellas I’ve ever seen. This beach borders an even bigger pool, which creates artificial waves, simulating a real beach.

Wave pool at Wet n Wild Sydney

The park has 4 slide towers with anywhere from 2 to 6 different slides on each. Each tower and slide has a varying level of speed and adrenaline so all levels of thrill-seeker are catered for, from the complete wuss/small child to the adrenaline junkie.

There is a lazy river, part of Dinosaur Lagoon, which is fun and somewhat relaxing to float around in rings. In fact, and I don’t know if you’re allowed to do this, but the lazy river would be great to actually have floating armchairs or blow up animals to float around in.

And just imagine if the park was BYO. Floating around the lazy river with a beer. Now that’s an idea for a theme park.

Um…where was I?

I’m not really sure why the lazy river area is dinosaur themed, but it actually works well as something extra to take your attention. The kids will love pressing the buttons to make the dinosaurs move and it’s pretty cool seeing a life-size (I imagine) Diplodocus overlook the pool.

Diplodicus overlooking Boomerang Bay at Wet n Wild Sydney

There is a kids play area called Nickelodeon Beach, with a few appearances by Spongebob, Patrick and Sandy, and a giant bucket that fills with water and crashes down every few minutes.

Lastly, there are also a couple of pay-to-play rides that are not included in the entry ticket. One is what must be the biggest swing in the world (at 75 metres), and another is the Surf Deck, an artificial surfing wave. Both are $25.

Nickelodeon Beach crashing giant bucket of water

For the Kids

As I mentioned there is a fairly large kids area with fountains, larger-than-life-size Spongebob characters, as well as kid-sized tube rides that parents can take their kids on. Probably not enough to entertain young kids all day, but in saying that I don’t think it’s supposed to.

Spongebob and Pals at Nickelodeon Beach Wet n Wild Sydney

For the Thrill-seekers

I’ll be honest. Before coming to Wet n Wild I was expecting most of the rides to be reasonably tame. Fun, but not adrenaline pumping.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were in fact a number of rides that fed my roller coaster habit.

The 360 Rush was my favourite ride. It was short, but thankfully there was no line so I just walked on. It starts on the same platform at the H2Go Racer slides, they strap a board to your back and you hop in to this clear chute, upright, not dissimilar to something you’d be cryogenically frozen in.

They count you down and the floor drops from beneath you and you free fall and are shot through the tube at phenomenal speed. It’s over before you know it, your heart is racing, and you can’t wait to do it again.

The H2Go Racers at Wet n Wild Sydney
The 360 Rush are the 2 pipes on either side of the main, colourful slides

The Bombora is another for the thrill-seekers. On a raft seating 4, it takes you through a few turns before dipping down a steep slide and up an almost vertical wall before finishing. Quick, but your stomach will drop.

There are more but I will keep it at that for now.

Punters sliding vertically up the Bombora Slide
The Bombora

The Food Options

I didn’t actually buy any food there – I brought my own because I was expecting theme park prices. I was correct to do so because I did have a wander through the food vendors.

To give you an idea of prices, you can get a small pizza for about $13, and 4 burgers for $50 (didn’t see the individual price). This didn’t include drinks. So yeah, not cheap. Sneak in your own sandwiches, fruit and snacks like I did.

They also have their own cafe with a selection of coffees, wraps, cakes, ice cream and other delights you would find in your local cafe. I didn’t buy anything there buy it was done up well with blackboards and wicker chairs. It would be a good place to sit out of the sun while your kids go off and do rides.

Bottom of the slides at Wet n wild Sydney

What I loved about Wet’n’Wild Sydney

The park is not huge so you don’t need to do a lot of walking like you might at a typical theme park, and yet there is still plenty of action to keep you entertained for a whole day.

The beach is huge, as is the wave pool. There are sun recliners on the beach but I have a feeling on a busy school holiday weekend these would fill up very fast. The wave pool is very novel, and would be especially cool to play in for those that don’t live near a beach. I do live near the beach and it’s still impressive. It just gives the whole area an authentic beachy vibe.

Wet n Wild Beach Sydney umbrellas

The rides are genuine, ear-to-ear laughing, fun. Even for those craving thrills like myself, the more tame slides are very enjoyable, and the fast rides are even better. There’s something for everyone here.

What I didn’t love

You can’t take your GoPro on the slides. This was a real bummer, as I was really looking forward to testing out my new gear with some really unique vision. I asked why and they stated vague safety reasons. I can somewhat respect that so I didn’t try to sneak it on later, despite what the voice on my other shoulder was telling me. But…

You can’t even take you GoPro in the lazy river. This I didn’t understand, nor did I respect, nor was I given a reason. So I did get some pretty cool vision floating around the river when the lifeguards weren’t looking.

Luke in the Wet n Wild Sydney lazy river

Parking and lockers were extra. You come to expect this from theme parks but it still sucks. Especially when the car park is a purpose-built for the park and will not be used by anyone other than visitors. Just include it in the price or not at all!

Some rides need a minimum of 2. This is not great if you are in a party of 2, and half your party doesn’t want to do a particular ride. This happened to me on a few of the more hairy rides. By chance there happened to be some other poor sod who was denied because he didn’t have a partner as I was getting on another ride at the top. I mentioned to him that I’m looking for a partnet and would go with him because Kynie wasn’t keen. I raced back up and walked straight on with him.

Tyrannasaurus at Dinosaur Lagoon, Wet n Wild Sydney

Best tips for visiting Wet’n’Wild Sydney

Go with a small group. I had great fun with Kynie at the park but with more people there are more chances that you’ll have a partner to do some of those rides with you. I missed out on doing what looked to be some really cool rides so next time I’d go with a bigger crew.

Sneak in your own food. This wasn’t at all difficult. I opened up a single zip of my bag to the one security guard at the door, he took a peek, asked if I had any cans or glass (which I didn’t), and that was it. Probably saved us at least $40 in food, drinks and snacks throughout the day.

Go outside of school holidays. Holidays are peak, peak time and if you ignore this, expect a crowded beach and long queues. I guess this is not dissimilar to other theme parks, and if that’s unavoidable then so be it. But if at all possible go in the early or late season like I did (I went early November).

If you go in low season, I probably wouldn’t bother with the Cabanas. They aren’t huge (well some are bigger than others), and the chairs don’t look as relaxing as the deck chairs on the beach. But, in the high season when the entire park is packed, the cabanas could genuinely provide some much-needed respite as you seek some private shelter away from crowds and the sun.

Cabanas at Wet n Wild Sydney

Overall…

Just go. Wet’n’Wild was fun for me as part of a couple, but I would have had just as much fun in a small group, large group or family. They have catered for all demographics really well and if you pick a day with low crowds, by lunchtime you’ll have worn yourself ragged from all the stairs you’ve climbed, which will be a perfect excuse to laze about on the beach.

Kynie and I were hosted by Wet’n’Wild Sydney, but all opinions and recommendations are 100% my own.

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Wet n Wild Beach Sydney - the biggest beach umbrellas I've ever seen Wet n Wild Sydney Slide Pool


10 Reasons Newcastle should make every Australia Itinerary

How does one city get so lucky? Surrounded by stunningly diverse landscapes and inhabited by the most attractive specimens in the country all wrapped up in a perfectly casual attitude to life. This is as good as it gets. It may not seem like it at first, but there are plenty of things to do in Newcastle if you know where to look. You could easily spend 2 or 3 days going at a leisurely pace.

Newcastle is either a really large country town or a small city doing its best country town impression. At only 2 hours drive from Sydney (2.5 by train) it’s an easy day trip from Sydney, but an even easier weekend. Continue Reading

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