I’m back at home now recovering from my 10 weeks on the road. I’ve washed my clothes, dusted out my pack, displayed my souvenirs and showed photos to anyone that shows the slightest interest; but really the memories of travel are already starting to fade with the return to routine. These post-travel blues are very sad but fortunately I was saved today when Maureen Wheeler, co-founder of Lonely Planet with husband Tony, came on the radio to talk my favourite subject – travel!
As I’m already starting to work out travel destinations for next year, I’m asking you to write in with your top five travel destinations for me to consider for the next trip and relieve my travel blues.
Top 5 Australian Destinations
To get the ball rolling here are my top five destinations for Australia as I know many of you are probably here or on your way to enjoy our summer:
1. Noosa, Queensland
This is my all time favourite holiday destination and the ultimate summer spot. There’s so much to do from the beaches, to the fantastic walks through the national park, coffee on Hastings Street, Sunday lunches at Boreen Point’s historic pub The Apollonian or shopping at the Eumundi Markets.
2. Byron Bay and hinterland, New South Wales
I’m probably in love with a Byron Bay of a decade past but still, it rocks, despite the increase in tourism. The most easterly point in Australia has a great range of food and drink on offer (surely you can’t beat a beer at The Beach Hotel), one of the country’s best festivals (Byron Bay Blues and Roots at Easter), a fantastic array of beaches and watery pursuits and some of the best hinterland areas. Don’t get stuck just in Byron but wander inland to the other weekend markets nearby, head to Nimbin for a bit of alternative culture or even hike the great spike of Mt Warning.
3. Fraser Island, Queensland
Driving along an open beach past grazing brumby’s, a dingo or a shipwreck to thermal springs, desert like dunes or freshwater rivers are just some of the glorious memories I have of Fraser Island. There are plenty of hostels in Hervey Bay that organize combined 4WD tours for tourists to Fraser but please take care. Every year foreign tourists are killed or badly injured as a result of inexperienced driving.
4. Great Ocean Road, Victoria
Every corner you turn along the Great Ocean Road gives you an opportunity to ooh or aah at the scenery. It’s fabulous and there are some 243km of it to travel between Torquay and Warrnambool in Victoria. The route hugs the coast by the Bass Strait and Southern Ocean and features dramatic limestone formations, temperate rainforests, fantastic walking tracks and quaint towns. One of the best places to stay with great surfing, pubs and cafes is Apollo Bay.
5. Kununurra, Western Australia
You can’t help but fall in love with the Kimberley, the dramatic wilderness area of open skies, rich geography and rugged landscapes that Baz Lurhmann used to film Australia with Hugh and Nicole. I fell in love with the land before I saw the movie, but if you’re now itching to explore it the best way to do so is to base in Kununurra. You can explore film locations such as gorgeous King George Falls, the sandstone domes of Purnululu National Park or Home Valley Station and Diggers Rest station for the wet season and droving scenes. Or do your own exploration and get to places like the famed beaches of Broome along the Gibb River Road taking in gorges, waterfalls and outback along the way.
Top 5 Other Destinations
1. Southland, New Zealand
Chasing shadows across the mountain ranges in Fiordland National Park is one of the most amazing travel experiences you’ll have anywhere. Take on a challenging walk, kayak through beautiful areas like Doubtful Sound or do the Milford cruise and marvel at the seal numbers. Or hang around in Queenstown, the adventure capital, to ski, snowboard, mountain bike and bungy yourself into travel oblivion.
2. Garwhal, India
You could probably name any destination in India and I would like it but the Garwhal is a favourite because I once spent two years there. The Garwhal is in the foothills of the Indian Himalaya and filled with great trekking opportunities, hillside villages, rural life, gorgeous pine forests and snow capped mountains. It’s also of significant religious importance with the Ganga and Yamuna rivers originating here. VIP can get you started in places like Mumbai and New Delhi but to get to the Garwhal you’ll need to be more independent.
3. Amalfi Coast, Italy
Bella Italia is most beautiful along this coastline south of Rome that is dotted with islands, great seafood restaurants, historic churches and towns and even the famed ruins of Pompeii.
4. Goreme, Turkey
This region of spiky and unusual landscapes is one of the most picturesque in Turkey. If you like to hike in foreign countries and enjoy the rural hospitality this is the place for you. Some guesthouses are actually located inside caves like the traditional hillside homes.
5. Wicklow Mountains, Ireland
You can visit the beautiful Wicklow Mountains on a day trip from Dublin although I would advise you give it more time. They are not only the largest mountain range in Ireland, but they boast numerous walks in the area including the 131km Wicklow Way, the first marked route in Ireland. The beautiful valley of Glendalough is based along the route and a good place to do day walks particularly around the two lakes. Make sure you wander down to the lake edges also to explore the ruins of churches, towers and cemeteries at the famous monastic settlement founded by St Kevin in the 6th Century.
Hope you’re enjoying the VIP Backpacker’s Travel Blog. There’ll be an update added every other Friday, so keep tuning in to keep your travel dreams alive! If there are any travel topics you want covered feel free to contact me, Jo, at email@example.com