When international travellers come for a visit of New South Wales, they tend to only visit the very tourism-driven areas such as Byron Bay, Jervis Bay and the city of Sydney. It’s usually just the “East Coast” that they know most about and it is the inland of New South Wales that remains largely unknown to temporary visitors. There are many things to do outside of the main cities ranging from indulging in local gourmet produce, appreciating cultural heritage, arts and nature. Here are some engaging trails that form a unique and rich experience of inland NSW:

Queanbeyan Wine Trail

Drive through the Queanbeyan Wine Trail and visit some award winning wineries for tastings and make a quick visit to the Lake George escarpment to admire it’s calming views. From Riesling, Chardonnay, Shiraz to Merlot and more, there is much diversity in the range of wines produced in the region. Sit back and relax at courtyard cafes and restaurants while sipping fine cool climate wines. Notable wineries in the area include the Shepherds Run Winery & Restaurant, Lerida Estate and Lambert Vineyards.

Exploring the Queanbeyan Wine Trail is a must-do while on vacation in New South Wales, Australia

Belmore Falls Walking Trail

Located near Kangaroo Valley of the NSW Southern Highlands, the Belmore Falls walking trail is a 1.8km long return walk that takes about an hour to complete and leads to a spectacular waterfall known as Belmore Falls. There’s no shortage of amazing views along the way, from lookouts to the natural environment and plants of the sandstone terrain, making this trail well worth the time. Do remember to check the national parks website to see if there are any closures due to unsafe weather or risk of fire in the area.

Belmore Falls in New South Wales, Australia

Boorowa Antique Trail

In the Hilltops wine region is a unique ‘Antiques and Hand-Crafted’ trail that takes you across the towns of Boorowa, Young, Harden and more, with visits to interesting antique stores such as Carmen’s Collectables and Glenleigh Antiques and Collectables. As you venture from town to town and village to village, you’ll experience the special communities, history, cafes and other attractions that showcase interesting items of the past, as well as galleries such as the Glenara Gallery.

Yass Valley Heritage & Arts Trail

This heritage and arts trail takes you through the towns of Yass Valley with stops at interesting galleries such as Tootsie Fine Art & Design Studio, the Crisp Galleries and Peter Minson Gallery. There is also a stop at the Yass & District Historical Museum where you can explore archives of the area’s past - it’s filled with an interesting collection of items from the olden days and a number of displays ranging from pubs to churches. There’s much to see and experience on this trail so allow a day or two to best enjoy it. Yass Valley has a few other awesome trails too - you can find brochures and maps for the Food & Wine trail at the Yass Information Centre.

The Browning Hotel in Browning, New South Wales, Australia

Gold Trail Experience at Murrumburrah

This interactive museum located in the historic twin town of Harden-Murrumburrah takes you back in time to the days of the gold rush, allowing you to learn about the rich history of the area where troopers, Chinese and European gold miners and bushrangers once roamed in the colonial era.

  flickr // krysiab   nullawar   jansmith

Author Bio
Olivia Bourke is a travel writer who loves exploring the great hidden gems of Australia and wandering around in other countries. She writes for Great Lost and other travel related blogs to learn, inspire and inform others of the beauty of the world.  

Published in Australia

Just last week we filled you in on the best up-and-coming wine destinations in the U.S. and abroad. This week, we’ve added a few of our favorite well known wine destinations to the mix, so you can decide which destinations fit your budget and travel style.

 

Wine Destinations by Cost of Weekend Trip for Two
City/Region Avg Nightly Hotel Price Avg Flight Price from Top 30 US Airports Total for 2-Night Stay for 2 People
Columbia Valley, WA/OR $82 $338 $840
Long Island, NY $91 $361 $904
Monticello, VA $160 $354 $1,028
Sonoita, AZ $144 $433 $1,154
Sonoma, CA $297 $345 $1,284
Napa, CA $375 $345 $1,440
Ontario, Canada $205 $551 $1,512
Paso Robles, CA $214 $609 $1,646
Malibu, CA $496 $349 $1,690
Loire Valley, France $118 $1,195 $2,626
Primorska, Slovenia $155 $1,210 $2,730
Catalonia, Spain $178 $1,208 $2,772
Mendoza, Argentina $99 $1,312 $2,822
Mosel Valley, Germany $128 $1,555 $3,366
Tuscany, Italy $169 $1,548 $3,434
Barossa Valley, Australia $170 $1,744 $3,828
Marlborough, New Zealand $151 $2,012 $4,326

Deal Destinations:

If you guessed that domestic destinations would be the best deal, you’re correct. If traveling from within the U.S. to Columbia Valley or Long Island’s wine country, you can enjoy a weekend getaway for two for less that $1,000 (excluding food and wine of course).

Splurge Destination:

American fans of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc might be disappointed: New Zealand’s Marlborough region is the most expensive to travel to from the States. A weekend wine tasting adventure for two costs more than $4,000. Those who stay in the U.S. during crush season will notice that flights to Malibu, Sonoma, and Napa are reasonable, but the hotel prices are much more expensive than other domestic wine destinations.

International Wine Lovers:

Got your heart set on a wine-infused rendezvous complete with exotic accents and cuisine? Then your best bet is to give Loire Valley, France, a try. The total price tag comes in at about $2,500. Alternatively, you could save by visiting Ontario, Canada, instead for about $1,500, but something tells us that our neighbor to the north isn’t going to give you the international experience you’re hoping for.

Got a favorite wine destination you want us to price out for you? Leave us a note in the comments section and we’ll look into it.

  The article was posted on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on September 29th.

Published in Travel Tips

Do you love a swig of beer or a glass of wine? No, I'm not going to tell you to stop! In fact I'm most likely the one urging you to have another glass. Just don't drink the same thing on vacation that you would be at home -- try something new! Never heard of it? Sound strange? Just go for it!

Oh the stories I could tell of all the crazy local brews I've drank with locals around the world... ;)

Here are five drinks that you should definitely try:

Arak

Arak is the traditional beverage in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Israel and Turkey. The word ‘arak' means sweat in Arabic. Don't turn away from this alcoholic drink assuming it to be someone's sweat though. The drink is anise-flavored and diluted with water for consumption. The liquor is clear but upon dilution with water, it becomes milky. This is because anethole, the essential oil in anise, is insoluble in water. Adding ice causes the arak to form an unpleasant layer on the surface. If you order a bottle of arak, the waiter will usually serve it with several glasses as one does not drink arak in the same glass again due to the emulsification of the liquid. Arak is served with appetizers.

Ouzo

If you visit Greece, you must certainly try out their coffees and frappés. But don't forget to try out ouzo, the essentially Greek drink, along with a platter of olives, fries, fish and cheese. You will find it tastes of liquorice and is smoother than absinthe. Ouzo is generally flavored with anise or mint or coriander. Like arak, ouzo too becomes milky when mixed with water. For the same reason, adding ice to the drink is avoided. The Greeks use ouzo in many recipes and consider it to have healing properties due to the presence of anise.

Sake

Sake, a wine made of rice, is a traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage. The rice used to make sake differs from the normal rice that the Japanese eat. Sake comes in several varieties which are served at a range of temperatures. Though sake goes best with Japanese cuisine, you can enjoy the beverage with Chinese food too. Food that is flavored with herbs will also work well.

Cachaça

This is Brazil's national beverage. According to a survey, the country produces over a billion litres of cachaça annually but only 1% of it is exported. Fresh sugarcane juice is fermented and then distilled to make cachaça. Some types of rums are also made in the same way which is why cachaça is also referred to as Brazilian rum. The liquor may be consumed either aged or un-aged. Un-aged cachaça will come cheaper but do look for the dark and premium variety that is aged in wooden barrels. Caipirinha is a popular cocktail that includes cachaça as the main ingredient.

Mezcal

This Mexican distilled alcoholic beverage is much like tequila's cousin as they are both made from (different types of) agave plants. Mezcal is made from the maguey plant while tequila is made from the blue agave plant. Most of the mezcal produced by Mexico is made in a region called Oaxaca. A popular saying that you might get to hear is Para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien también, translated as, For everything bad, mezcal and for everything good, the same.

The drink might not seem inviting if you see larva in a bottle of mezcal, but many alcohol makers have embraced this age-old technique now. You can find mezcal without the larva too. You can relish it with sliced oranges dusted with ground chili, fried larvae and salt.

  Don't forget to purchase a bottle or two as a souvenir if you really fall in love with the taste of any of these drinks. That way you will have a tale to tell your friends over a round of drinks too.

Cheers to new adventures!

Published in Travel Tips

The sun-blessed Portuguese island of Madeira lies approximately 400km north of Tenerife, smack in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. With year round warm weather, an incredibly scenic coastline and a wealth of cultural festivals you might be tempted to extend your stay on this island a little longer.

A trip to Madeira will bring some unforgettable holiday experiences and allows you to explore the nearby golden island of Porto Santo. Saga Travel organise getaways to these two islands and are ready when you are, so let's take a look at what you can expect upon arrival.

Compact But Diverse

Yes, Madeira may only be 800 square kilometres but it packs an incredible amount of sightseeing options into this relatively small space. The island's coastline is dotted with fishing villages, sandy beaches and scenic little bays where you can relax in the sun no matter which season you choose to visit in. The coast is also the place to take relaxing boat trips, enjoy some wreck and reef diving or simply take in those spectacular sunsets. Madeira isn't just famous for its fortified wine -- the island is awash with so many exotic and colourful flowers that it has rightfully earned the nickname "The Floating Garden".

Fortaleza do Pico

An Island of Festivals

If there's one thing that Madeira loves it's a good festival and visitors have plenty to choose from throughout the year. The island is home to at least 45 annual festivals including the famous Madeira Wine Festival in the capital city of Funchal and the 48 hour Dancing Folklore Festival in the town of Santana.

If you're visiting during July then don't miss the three day Jazz extravaganza in Santa Catarina Park where you can enjoy the music while taking in the mountain backdrop and Funchal Bay views. The Atlantic Festival music and fireworks contest, which takes place every Saturday throughout June, is also well worth visiting the island for.

Il Gallo d'Oro

Sightseeing Options

You might not want to tear yourself away from the beach but making the effort will allow you to get more out of your visit. Slip on those sturdy walking shoes and head out into the interior mountain and lake areas to view dazzling rivers, waterfalls and rocks pools. A cable car ride from Santana to Rocha do Navio will provide you with some spectacular views before you reach a charming rocky beach. The amazing rock formations around the east of the island can be viewed from the deck of a yacht or head north and take a guided tour around the famous Sao Vicente Caves.

The Sister Island

Approximately 15 minutes by plane or two hours by ferry from Madeira lies Porto Santo, named the "Golden Island" due to the nine kilometres of soft golden sand in the south. This is a beautiful Portuguese island that stretches for only 42 square kilometres and exudes a tranquil atmosphere making it a highly desirable destination. If you're a golf lover then the recently added Porto Santo golf course that stretches across the island and offers magnificent scenery is worth the trip alone.

This is an island that will provide a feast for the senses and could easily become your favourite island getaway.

  Credits David Stanley // Rota das Estrelas used under the Creative Commons license.

Published in Portugal

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