Australia is a huge continent, all 7.692 million km² of it. I know the news coming out from Down Under since late July 2019 have been nothing but about bushfires and may likely affect your intention to visit the gorgeous destination. But here’s the low-down – Not all places on the vast continent are affected, it’s still safe to travel to Australia. Please don’t cancel your trip. Your continued travel to Australia helps in its recovery.
The aim of this article is to advise readers on updates and help in making informed decision when planning their trips to Australia. By deciding to cancel or postponing visits to Australia is to compound the dire condition the country faces in this unprecedented event. Tourism receipts are a lifeline to many businesses and any prolonged reduction of visitors is like a ‘second wave of bushfires’ affecting people livelihood.
Why Australia has bushfires ?
Bushfires in Australia is not a recent phenomenon and has destroyed properties and taken lives since 1851. The current scale of bushfires are compounded by a protracted heatwave, drought and wind condition. Bushfires are a regular feature in Australia’s calendar – often triggered by natural causes such as lightning strikes and cannot be blamed on climate change or rising greenhouse gas emissions alone. Reports of arsonists, while happened in some incidents, have been grossly exaggerated.
Is it safe to visit Australia at this moment?
Yes – definitely, you can still travel to Australia. And no, you should not cancel your trip. Many parts of the vast continent are unaffected by the bushfires. Due in a large part to the effect of visual media, visitors’ perception of the scale of bushfires are magnified disproportionately due to news coverage of Australia, which are continuously focused on the bushfire destruction. There are still many areas not affected that represents Australia well. Remember, Australia is 1 huge continent – all 7.692 million km², which is 10,639 times bigger than Singapore, for comparison.
The solution to enjoy a great trip Down Under is to understand the situation better and should the need arises, adjust your travel itinerary, taking into consideration on bushfire movement or smoke condition. Do plan and book your trips with Australia specialist Jetabout Holidays as we have the latest information and will have options ready for you on the current state of the bushfires and proactively keep you updated first even while you are on the trip.
What are the safeguards for travelling during the bushfires?
This is largely dependent which area you are travelling to. To enjoy Australia is about appreciating the serenity and beauty of nature that the vast country has come to signify. To ensure a blissful vacation, stay nimble and be adaptive to local condition.
For free and independent travellers, you can stay updated on the bushfires information portal. For those who engaged Jetabout Holidays, the guesswork would have been shouldered by us as we are in constant communication with relevant authorities, suppliers and partners throughout the region for clear and objective information. Stay contactable and keep updated throughout the trip on news via your smartphone with purchased data roaming. And of course, as in all overseas travel, make sure you stay fully insured, as life are unpredictable, bushfires or not.
Bushfires impact on Australia economy And recovery.
In 2019, Tourism contributed $44.6 billion to the economy while employing over 660,000 people. So its not an understatement that tourism is a key income earner for the Australian economy and will be heavily affected by the devastating impacts of these bushfires. By not cancelling or postponing your trip to Australia in this difficult time, is itself a valued form of support.
On the trip, do support the local businesses by dining or shopping at small establishments, as this will go a long way towards assisting the economic recovery by funding the local economies directly.
The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently made a plea on national television on the 8 Jan 2020 during a visit to Kangaroo Island – “Australia is open, Australia is still a wonderful place to come and bring your family and enjoy your holidays.”
Yes, Australia will always be one of my fave travel destinations and in two months time, I will be embarking on an epic exploration trip to Melbourne for the Great Ocean Road. Do subscribe to my page for trips updates. For my other adventures to Australia, please feel free to click here.
Footnote: All pictures used in this travelogue are copyrighted to Jensen Chua Photography and Jetabout Holidays and all rights reserved. The opinion expressed is factual, objective and that of the author. Some information are sourced from The Guardian, Seven Worlds and Wikipedia.
This is Canon Imaging Academy 2nd Canon Fiesta event. The 1st Fiesta was organised at Batam in 2018 while this time round, it’s held at Rottnest Island (Western Australia) from the 4-7 September 2019. The annual once-a-lifetime sold-out event is highly anticipated by shutterbugs looking to pick up new skills or bring it to a different level.
Attendees reaped valuable photo tips under the guidance of award-winning CIA Instructors Joseph Goh and Lance Leong, in genres that include long exposure, stars, portrait, landscape, nature photography and more, on the island that is renowned as the home of the ‘World’s Happiest’ marsupial – the cute Quokka. The event wrapped up with a photo contest and a premium lunch in Perth at the Crown Hotel.
Beyond sharpening photography skills and the fun of travel, attendees get to network and make new friends that will render their photographic journey henceforth more fun and engaging.
The event is non-brand specific ( yes, you don’t need to own a Canon camera to participate in the event ) and based on the positive feedback, interest is already strong for the next Canon Fiesta in 2020.
The participants all decked out in their Canon Fiesta polo-shirts. One for the album !
Workshop in a comfortable function room at the Karma Rottnest, just 7min walk from the trip accommodation at Discovery Rottnest Island, a luxury eco-tent glamping resort. The shooting location are just steps away from the conveniently located resort.
Joseph sharing tips on long exposure and the roles of filters in the genre. Full no-hold tips sharing session, compressing skills learnt through the years in bite-sized pieces for everyone.
Lance sharing valuable tips on astrophotography. We may not be able to enjoy the stars much in light-polluted Singapore, but it opens up a new avenue when going on overseas trips
Chartered coach ride to another part of the island, exclusively for the attendees only.
All up early and ready to capture the beautiful start of the day. Looks colder than it is in the picture…like single digit cold.
Putting the tips learnt during the workshop into good use. Still not so sure? No worries, help always on hand. That’s the beauty of photo workshop.
“Canon Delights You Always” moment captured.
Beautiful moment included in the photo workshop package. Suddenly, it all makes sense why you travelled almost 4000 kilometres here.
360º possibility of photo angles, limited only by imagination..
Age is never the limit.
There always time for a selfie.
Local professional models provided for portraits photography, no need to look just for Quokkas.
Talk on local wildlife by certified ranger giving participants some insights to the animals and fauna of the island.
Trail walk and wildlife spotting along the island preserved park .
Bathurst Lighthouse long exposure by Liu Zhen .
Between the Rough and Smooth by Shayne Tay
Misty seascape by David Gay
Hues of Dawn by Mylene.
Dawn of a New Day by Myra.
Colourful End to the Day by Lawrence
A Mood Monochromatic Take by Lawrence Lim
Stairway to Adventure by David Gay
Bathurst Lighthouse and cloudscape by Che Kuan Yau
The waves of Nautilus by Mabel.
Nature’s Swimming Pool by Lawrence Chua
The Blue Yonder by Anthony Lum
Getting on Top of Matter, by Myra.
Dreamy seagull by Che Kuan Yau
In Mommy’s Home by Myra.
Star Trails by Mabel.
Milky Way by Cindy Loo (Event Coordinator, Jetabout Holidays)
Couple’s Moment by Emily Ang.
–CANON FIESTA 2019 WINNING SHOT—Dusk moment captured by Liu Zhen
— CANON FIESTA 2019 SPECIAL PRIZE —Model Mood Shot by Kelly Juan
There are many reasons why Sunshine Coast is every travellers’ favourite destination – spectacular beaches, world-class attractions, natural wonders, exciting events, friendly locals, lip-smacking cuisine and much more. Sunshine Coast and it’s hinterland certainly have all the right ingredients for an action-packed holiday or quiet escape all year round.
Come join us on one of the best planned 7D6N self-drive vacation that you will find without breaking the bank.
OUR SUNSHINE COAST SELF-DRIVE ROAD MAP
DAY 1: BRISBANE – SUNSHINE COAST
Upon arrival at Brisbane International Airport, we collect our car from the conveniently located Hertz Car Rental counter. Then we kickstart our adventure by visiting the fabulous Australian Zoo after an hour easy drive along highway M1. This visit to the zoo was at our own expense.
This is home of the passionate late Steve Irwin – the “Crocodile Hunter”, it’s still run by the Irwin family and features a range of animals like tigers and plenty of crocodiles, of course.
There’s plenty of opportunities get hands-on with many of the zoo residents like touching a dingo, feeding a kangaroo or feeling a giant python in the daily Wildlife Show. Wow!..Crikey mate !
Come up close and enjoy the reptilian or birds of prey experience while having fun at the same time. The staff certainly how to build in humour in whatever they do.
After all that fun and excitement, we proceeded to check-in our first hotel of the trip – Novotel Twin Waters Resort Sunshine Coast after a 35min drive to recharge and get ready for our big adventure coming up on day two.
DAY 2: SUNSHINE COAST – THE GREAT BEACH DRIVE
After a superb night sleep, we woke up before the alarm rang as we were going on the highly anticipated “The Great Beach Drive” which displays nature seen nowhere else in the world. This is the part where we get to enjoy not one UNESCO Biosphere reserves but two adjoining ones side by side -The Great Sandy and Noosa Biosphere Reserves. We were treated to beautiful landscapes, observed local aboriginal culture while immersing in a uniquely rich and diverse natural experience. It was a fun and eye-opening event as our experienced 4WD guide whisked us along the sandy ride with salty air coursing through our hair.
Rainbow Beach, Sunshine Coast
This region is like an open-air zoo to wildlife such as kangaroos, whales, dolphins, manta rays, dugongs and a mind-boggling variety of bird species. You will especially love the pristine stretch of white sand beaches with stunning headland views all the way from Noosa to Double Island Point Red Canyon.
Here, red and yellow sands form a unique canyon in the sand dunes where you will enjoy unforgettable views over Teewah Beach. We practically have the entire beach to ourselves. This is the moment we could truly set ourselves free from our hand phone and simply enjoy life’s real pleasures.
We also stop at Freshwater- a scenic and relaxing picnic ground in the Great Sandy National Park where we had a chance to spot Lace Monitors or Double Island Point Lighthouse which offers breathtaking 360º views across the Pacific Ocean and scenic vistas of the Great Sandy National Park. Marine-life lovers will be thrilled as there is chance to see pods of dolphins, turtles, sharks, manta rays and the majestic Humpback Whales (season is July-November). Great Beach 4WD Tours are the sole operator with access to the Lighthouse which you would otherwise missed.
We also particularly enjoyed the Colored Sands – a world renown attraction which has over 40 different shades of colour. This is the place where our guide demonstrated how the colours are used by aboriginals for artwork and decoration of boomerangs. For couples on honeymoon, they should stop by Honeymoon Bay which boasts a saltwater lagoon that is one most scenic landscapes in Australia, perfect for a refreshing break where you can swim in the sheltered waters of the bay or body surf on the longest right-hand breaks in Australia all year round. Our trip also included the Rainforest- a unique rainforest drive-through sand dunes.
DAY 3: SUNSHINE COAST – HERVEY BAY
Day 3 see us checking out of our resort early morning to drive 30min to The Eumundi Market – Australia’s biggest and best art, craft and produce market in the historic town of Eumundi. Established in 1979, this world-renowned market is like an outdoor gallery, with heritage-listed fig trees sheltering the 500 plus stalls.
The market’s policy of ‘make it, bake it, sew it or grow it’ ensures any products or locally produced goods to be of the best qualities. There is also a line-up of world-class musicians and talented street performers, as well as face painters and therapists offering massages, palm readings and more. The market opens only on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
From Eumundi Market, we drove 2-hours northward to Hervey Bay, a sheltered bay which is safe year round for swimming, diving, sailing, water sports and fishing. If getting wet is not part of the plan, bicycle rental is available for ride along the picturesque foreshore to visit places such as the Orchid House within the beautiful Botanical Gardens, the Marina area or one of the many eateries and cafes situated along the Esplanade. The resort we stayed here was the Mantra Hervey Bay.
DAY 4: HERVEY BAY – SOUTHERN GREAT BARRIER REEF (LADY ELLIOT ISLAND WITH 2-WAY SCENIC FLIGHTS)
Day 4 marked another highlight of our trip as we took a scenic coastal flight from Fraser Coast Airport to Lady Elliot Island, the southernmost coral cay on the southern Great Barrier Reef, overflying Fraser Island on the way.
It was definitely thrilling to feel close to the action as our Cessna Caravan throttles down to land at Lady Elliot island, with its own landing strip named simply as “Lady Elliot Island Airstrip”.
This is certainly a beautiful island where we get to enjoy guided reef tour on one of the glass bottom boats, snorkel among the amazing coral formations and marine creatures or hand-feed fish in the lagoon.
In the picture above, you see one of our travel mates feeling tickled holding a live sea cucumber during the guided walk. The only sea cucumber we cityfolks get see in our everyday life are those preserved ones in groceries mart or cooked ones in restaurants.
But the guided reef walk with one of the knowledgeable guides will enhance the experience. We can even see turtles, colourful corals and schools of reef fish. Snorkelers are required to be proficient in the water as no life jackets except swim noodles, are provided during the swim. Snorkel lesson can be conducted in the resort pool (if required).
The coral gardens surrounding the island are also a breeding and feeding area for Manta Rays, the giant “kites of the reef”. Certainly an enlightening day as we learned about the island and its wildlife by knowledgeable guides. This session needs about 6.5 hours to explore the island. A delicious buffet lunch on the island resort was provided with the tour concluding after a return flight.
Optional side trip – Whale watching. Every year, between July and November, Hervey Bay’s reputation as the whale watch capital of the world gets refreshed as thousands of humpback whales make their way into the calm, protected waters on the western side of Fraser Island known as Platypus Bay.
This is where the whales stay and play on their way back to Antarctica, after spending the winter months up north to mate or give birth to their calves. This will be one of the most amazing wildlife encounter in your life.
For cityfolks like me, it’s an adrenaline rush each and every time I see them breaking the surface or blow their snort. It’s truly a magical experience and one that keeps me and probably plenty of others to visit again. Definitely a must-do optional event during the whale migration season (not part of this trip itinerary).
DAY 5: HERVEY BAY – HINTERLAND
This morning, we check out early from our resort to embark on a 23min drive land our next destination as we explore the streetscapes of Maryborough’s original wharf district.
Maryborough’s Portside is like a “history textbook” as it remains relatively unchanged from its days as a thriving river port, when it was one of Australia’s largest and busiest destinations for immigrants in the 1800’s. We commenced on the Portside experience with a Portside Heritage Gateway Pass (at our own expense), which includes entry into Customs House Interpretive Centre and the variety of museums on offer.
One of the interesting must-visit is the The Bond Store. Feel the history as you walk on the same earthen floors of this former store for her Majesty’s Customs Service and relive a time when opium was a legal import together with a flourishing rum trade. The main structure of the building dates back to 1864 where the original floors, handmade bricks and barrel rails are still being kept. It functioned as a guarded storage for taxed goods like cigars, tobacco, rum, wine, spirits and opium. Today the Bond Store has been revived as a store for regional produce and archives displays and artefacts documenting Marlborough’s Portside history.
From the Bond Store, we drove 2hr 15min to the Maleny Cheese. This is a food education attraction which showcase and sells products made on site. We can also sample the delicious range of products before deciding what to buy.
On weekdays, when the staff is working, we were able to observe how the cheeses are made by looking through the cafe viewing windows, which overlooked the factory floor.
Another option to experience the dairy industry was the Maleny Dairies, a family-owned dairy farm in the Hinterland. Go on the the farm tours which run from Monday to Saturday which include meeting Millie, the tour cow, for a hand milking demonstration and a chance to taste the milk straight from the udder! From here it’s into the baby pen to bottle-feed their calves! The tour finishes with a look inside their dairy and a sampling of their award winning products. You can enjoy Tractor Rides which run after the first three tours of the day, which takes visitors through the beautiful back paddocks to watch the calves being fed and also have a chance to feed their emus!
Our accommodation at the Hinterland warrants a special mention. The Glass House Mountain Ecolodge is an eco-friendly lodge founded by owner Keith Murray who spent over 1200 painstaking hours restoring the four train carriages and a wooden church at the back of a truck, which he transported to the site. The wood paneling has been hand-polished, the ceiling height raised and the train windows restored with stained glass panels. Over the past 30 years Keith and his family members also planted hundreds of trees to replace the pineapples plantation which was cleared for the building the lodge.
Glasshouse Mountain Ecolodge
As a guest, the real attraction here are the tranquility of the ambience and nature’s playground that awaits just outside the property’s gates. This is one unique lodge you will remember for the rest of your life.
About a 25min drive from the Glasshouse Mountain Lodge, you might like to check out the famous Maleny’s One Tree Hill. The site has unofficially been named as the most photographed paddock on the Sunshine Coast, especially when it comes to weddings in Maleny ! Truly an instagrammable picture opportunity. However, this tree is on private land and you need book in advance and make a donation of AUD50 which goes to the local organisation.
DAY 6: HINTERLAND – BRISBANE
This morning we check out of the lovely lodge and drive north (approx 30mins) for Montville. It would be hard to find a town on the Sunshine Coast that is as charming as Montville.
Perched on the Blackall Range, this quaint little village is home to art galleries, cosy coffee shops and boutique stores where we can bring home handmade beanies to one-off sculptures made by local artists. There are a wide range of accommodation options around town including rainforest cabins, luxury resorts and cute hinterland cottages. After lunch, we headed for Brisbane, where we check into the Grand Chancellor Brisbane after a 1.5hrs drive and quickly indulge in some last minute shopping. Do note that all hotels in the city charge for overnight car parking.
DAY 7: BRISBANE – BRISBANE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Day 7 marked the final hours of our Sunshine Coast adventure as we check out of the hotel and drove just about 20min to Brisbane International Airport where we return our rental car( factoring in at least 2 hours prior for all international departures). It was definitely a lovely self-drive vacation and one that we will not forget for a long time, probably never.