Our team has compiled a list of unique experiences sure to give you unforgettable memories – from walking in the footsteps of Australian high country legends, diving into a New Zealand River, tour the Jurassic landscape of Hawaii, to something else entirely!
- Educate yourself in BALI!
Bali’s reputation for incredible diversity extends to its religion: while Indonesia is known as a Muslim nation, Bali has a Hindu background and there are also strong Christian roots. When it comes to religious landmarks, the effort, expense and devotion poured into them has made them iconic to travellers around the world.
One of the most frequented temples is Tanah Lot, a Hindu temple on the southwest coast. Positioned on a small island in the ocean, it is linked to land by a causeway that floods during high tide and can only be crossed at low tide. The seas fall to expose the Tirta Pabersihan fountain, a natural spout yielding fresh water which is believed to be holy. The temple is rated number one on TripAdvisor’s Points of Interest and Landmark list in Bali.
Uluwatu temple is perhaps one of Bali’s most famed temples. Perched on dramatic cliffs over the Java Sea, it was built before the 11th Century and is one of the oldest religious landmarks on the island. The temple is also surrounded by a famous forest populated by macaque monkeys – so take a quick photo, then tuck the camera away somewhere they can’t find it!
Another religious landmark worth the excursion is the easily recognisable Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, on the waters of inland Lake Beratan (pictured). Dating back to 1556, the temple was built as a tribute to the Hindu goddess of water, lakes and rivers, Danu. The temple is situated about 1,500 metres above sea level, and the incredibly clear and perfectly still lake surrounding it, along with a thin mist created by the cool air, makes the structure look surreal.
- Victorian High Country
The legendary high country bred the toughest folk in Australian verse and song and the Victorian slopes give you the opportunity to walk in their footsteps – or ride in their hoof prints. The Dinner Plain and Mt Hotham region is renowned for its ski terrain in the winter but during summer it transforms into a wonderland of native forest and grassy slopes. The best way to explore the snowy gums and mountain terrain the high countrymen and their mounts called home is a horse-riding expedition of your own.
Packer’s High Country Horseriding is the nearest operator to your Club resort, Ramada Resort by Wyndham Dinner Plain Mt Hotham. The business is one-and-a-quarter hours away, but well worth the scenic drive. There are 75 horses on the property and Helen Packer has been leading trail rides for almost 30 years. The trips will take you at a leisurely pace through eucalypt forests, clear rivers and mountain passes as old as the Great Dividing Range itself. Rides lasting two hours, a half-day or a full
day with lunch included are available. You will feel like a genuine high country hero from Australian literature after you finish!
If you go around Easter, we also recommend you book tickets for the annual Dinner Plain Geebung Polo match. The clash between Geebung and the Cuff and Collar Team is fiercely fought, and doesn’t feature any of the ruthlessness featured in the famous Banjo Paterson poem. The event provides plenty of fun for the family in the form of food and drink stalls, live music, an Easter egg drop and helicopter rides.
3. Bungy jump in New Zealand
If you’re up for bungy jumping, you may as well try it where it all started! AJ Hackett Bungy is located near Queenstown, New Zealand – the fabled home of adventure – and was actually the world’s first permanent commercial bungy site. The original 43-metre high bridge over the Kawarau River is still the centerpiece of the AJ Hackett Bungy site, though the more recently added Nevis jump nearby is a beacon for adrenaline junkies all over the world. The 134-metre high bungy is New Zealand’s tallest and promises a heartpumping eight-and-a-half second freefall.
If you have no fear of heights at all, you can also jump high above Queenstown from the Ledge Bungy, a jump that extends 47 metres and promises a freestyle experience. The AJ Hackett Park has diversified with a series of swings and zip lines which add to the bungy experience. The world-famous Nevis swing is a nerve-racking 300 metre arc, while there’s a 47 metre swing over Queenstown that pairs with the freestyle bungy jump.
The Kawarau River site also features three 130 metre ziplines through the Kawarau Gorge that climb to speeds of up to 60 kilometres per hour.
- Snorkel or Scuba Dive on The Great Barrier Reef
Larger than the Great Wall of China and the only living thing on Earth visible from outer space, the renowned Great Barrier Reef is arguably the crowning glory of Tropical North Queensland.
Explore a dazzling array of coral gardens and interact with incredible underwater life in the crystal clear waters. You can get up close to countless species of fish, turtles, rays, sea horses and giant clams unique to this part of Australia. You might even get to see a humpback whale if you visit during the winter!
The range of reef charters, dive trips and snorkelling tours allow you to experience the majesty of the natural living wonder first hand. Some can take you to the most renowned spots, like Green Island or Tongue Reef, while others will moor and allow you to explore at your own pace. For the novice diver, operators in Port Douglas run courses so you can explore like a natural by the time you hit the reef. For a unique perspective of the reef, you could try a tour in a glassbottomed boat or take a scenic helicopter flight from Port Douglas.
- Cave exploration off Phuket
The cave systems around Phuket in Thailand offer peace and tranquility you simply have to experience.
Called “hongs” – which doubles as the Thai word for “room” – the network of limestone caves are a hidden world of unique and quiet ecosystems, able only to be entered by canoe during low tide. Admire the pristine, unspoiled jungle and crystalline ceilings, while spotting native monkeys, birds and fish in their natural habitats.
A series of operators run daily canoe tours of the cave network at Phang Nga Bay starting from early morning, although there are some starlit tours available. Often, tours will have one guide per boat and, in some cases, the guide will even do the paddling and leave you free to take photographs. Operators include snacks and a freshly cooked local meal as part of the adventure.
- Go gourmet at the Margaret River
The Margaret River region is famous for stunning vistas of undulating vineyards and farmlands – and the world-renowned wine and gourmet produce they yield. The source of 20 per cent of Australia’s premium wine, this pocket of the country is one of the nation’s most prominent wine-growing regions.
With 150 wine cellars dotted throughout the Margaret River, there is plenty for travellers to try. Margaret River’s founding wine estate, Vasse Felix, is an essential stop, while the ultra-modern and beautiful Voyager Estate is one to try if you are after a delicious meal matched to a perfect wine. Some other high-profile vineyards that should feature on your itinerary include Aravina, which features an incredible garden and a vintage car and motorbike collection; Amelia Park, with one of Gourmet Traveller’s favourite cellar doors in Australia; the naturally powered and carbon neutral Cullen; and the famous Leeuwin Estate, one of the six founding estates in the Margaret River.
Wine tours are a popular way to sample your way around the region: for $200, you can experience a seven-course degustation menu as part of it and get an insight into wine tasting, winemaking and the Margaret River region itself. Alternatively, you can meander from cellar door to cellar door on your own gourmet food and drink adventure. If you fancy yourself as a more intrepid traveller, you can also take a walking or hiking tour through the region.
- Fly over Jurassic Landscapes in Hawaii
Hawaii’s rich volcanic soil means it has some of the most breathtaking natural gardens in the world. Known as the Garden Island, Kauai, in particular has wonders that are world-renowned, although the beauty of many of them can only be fully appreciated from the air – making this a perfect place to give a helicopter tour a try, if you have never experienced one.
Many of Kauai’s natural wonders are so picturesque, they have graced the silver screen over several decades. On your flight, you could recognise the famed Na Pali coast from King Kong in 1976 and Jurassic Park, along with the incredible Manawaiopuna Falls, also from Jurassic Park. The spectacular greenery encouraged
by the fertile volcanic soil in places like Waimea Canyon, Olokele Canyon And Hanalei Bay looks like it comes from a time long past, when the earth was
much younger and warmer.
Hawaii is also renowned for the volcano Kilauea, which is one of the most active in the world – and a helicopter tour over it will be an experience you will never forget. The erupting Kilauea caldera is located on the Big Island, also known as Hawaii,
along with the two of the world’s tallest volcanoes, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. The wildness of the volanic activity will make you feel as if you returned to the time of the dinosaurs!