Looking for some olde world Australian charm. Don't hesitate to take the turn to Bellingen when your heading up old highway one. Bellingen is one of the nicest little towns you'll find when driving from Sydney up the Pacific Highway towards Queensland. It's about a half an hours drive from the highway (just before you reach Coffs Harbour) through beautiful dairy farms and lush bush. Bellingen has retained the olde worlde charm of an Aussie country town and is set right on the pebbly, pristine Kalang River.
There's some great old heritage buildings, fabulous coffeeshops and cafes and a timeless feeling if you go for a wander down the main street. Around the centre of town you'll discover the Federal Hotel, the locals watering hole.
The pub has been given the total gentrification on the ground floor level and, while they have retained the essential Aussie Pub feel, it's been brought way upmarket.
A nice verandah to one side is where the locals hang out, was packed when we arrived. They have a central bar at the front with a stage where they put on live acoustic, jazz and blues music on weekends. A pub with live music always wins me over. All the usual gaming rooms etc and very posh toilets, and out the back they have a humming restaurant which serves excellent meals, a cut above your average pub fare by a long shot, but not cheap. Obviously very popular - it was packed, and you line uo for your order and take a buzzer. I enjoyed great fish of the day and my friends found the steak cooked to perfection. The rooms upstairs are pretty ordinary however, not up to the standard of the downstairs renovations, ...still the old style, but quite acceptable nevertheless and cheap at $80 a night if you don't mind wandering down the hall to the bathroom.
Bellingen is well worth a visit for it's beautiful scenery, the charm of the old town and if you head on up the valley you can take an awesome rainforest drive over the hill to Dorrigo, which is some of the most beautiful rural scenery in Australia.
If you happen to be in Bellingen on the Sunday of the month when they hold the Bellingen Markets make sure you check it out - it's fantastic with all that a country market should have, awesome choice of food, old wares, plants, clothing, a really nice vibe, plus great music.
Can you imagine a theme park of trampolines? It exists! Sydney boasts a venue called Skyzone, where rows of trampolines lay side by side for you to bounce between, like a big kid. The best part? These trampolines are aimed at adults for health and fitness as well as an active day out. The venue is rather large, and rather fun. You can shoot hoops in a super high basketball ring, play dodgeball, or take a fitness class called tight buns. Or you can jump high into the air from a trampoline and land softly into a sea of foam squares. This is something you always wanted to do. And you didn't even know it existed! Be warned, you may find yourself with The Pet Shop Boys Absolutely Fabulous song stuch in your head and subconcously quoting Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous ''Buns so tight he was bouncing off the walls' from the song - as you leave the fitness class - because you just bounced off the walls with your tight buns!
Where: Alexandria, Sydney What to wear: Exercise gear Expenses: Special grip socks, included in the price. Cost: $18/hour. BOOK NOW
Australia's annual Taste of Manly - food, wine and sustainability festival in Winter is well worth a visit if you're hungry, thirsty and like the beach. At this outdoor gathering of local restaurateurs, you can sample various food and wine from stalls set up along Manly's famous main beach, and then ponder over to the adjacent beachside craft markets. Visit local farmers showing healthy produce, hold chicks or see the bright pink silky bantams, talk to local chefs, and taste wines from nearby regions like the Hunter Valley. Three stages set up at each end of the festival have live music with hay bales or outdoor table seating, and cooking shows are scheduled throughout the day. The festival is free, annual, goes over a two day weekend, and usually held in the first week of Winter.
Check the manly council website to find out when the next festival is scheduled:
Noosaville is a beach town with a river inlet, and the Villa Noosa Hotel is just two blocks back from the picturesque riverfront and restaurant precinct. Noosaville's main street Gympie Terrace, is right on the edge of the river with a host of restaurants and cafes looking out over the park and a wide stretch of water. The region's tourist hotspot is here, with a feeling of relaxed ambience, you can't help but linger over a coffee and Saturday paper.
The main part of the Villa Noosa hotel is a great big tavern style multi-function venue, with restaurant, games room and music venue and there's a comfy motel at the back. The guy on the check-in was friendly and helpful with directions to your room.The Motel itself has a very private feel and the rooms are a fine budget solution - functional, nothing awesome but with everything you would expect. Nice big bathroom, comfy queen-size bed, TV. There is a nice leafy feeling when you look out from the little balcony at the back and you looked down on an attractive pool area from the first floor when accessing the room from the front balcony.
There is certainly a fantastic choice for dining only two blocks from the hotel, and the sunset over the river was really spectacular. There is a classy affluent feel to the town. Our stay in the motel was delightfully uneventful and private, and we felt quite cosy. The Villa Noosa Hotel has a big Dan Murphy's bottle shop attached, thus there is that certain Aussie "Tavern" feel about the main hotel area. Definitely the whole establishment is focussed on being an entertainment destination, featuring a major music venue for the region, with a lot of big name acts performing.
Popular with the locals, the hotel boasts a function room, and a typical pub bistro. Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, and all the usual tavern attractions such as big screen TVs showing live sports (including UFC - I have to confess I'm am addict, so I noticed the ad), TAB facilities, gaming machines and it advertised some great live music on weekends.
It's handy that you have lots of food and entertainment options right on hand in the adjoining hotel, though we chose to get out and explore when we got hungry. A supermarket right across the road on one side for some impulse buying, and cheap snacks for the room.
If you're a business traveller, the Villa Noosa has a private function room for meetings, and offers 3 course packages, and caters for conventions and even suggests "cocktail parties"! We made a quick weekend visit to Noosaville to play my Johnny Cash Show at the Tewantin-Noosa RSL Club, so was able to spend some time in the town of Noosaville.
Things to do in Noosaville A few minutes from the Noosa Villa Hotel you will find Noosa Marina on the peaceful Noosa River. The river is the main feature of the town and there are plenty of boating activities available at the Marina, including deep sea and river fishing, or crab tours, cruises, ferry services and self-drive hire boats and craft.
The Villa Noosa is also only 5 minutes drive from the hub of Hasting Street and Main Beach Noosa, where you can dine upmarket alfresco, shop, and if you're a surf freak - the waves looked incredible. You can also explore the Noosa National Park and its walking tracks. Noosa Main Beach is a very protected beach with quite gentle surf conditions and is a great spot for beginners to learn how to surf.
On Gympie Terrace there is a Kayak business and that's a great way to get out on the water. They do "Dolphin Adventures" which was a highlight of our stay.
Directions The Villa Noosa I can be found at 18-22 Mary Street, Noosaville, behind the Dan Murphy’s Bottleshop, or also via Gibson Road . The Villa Noosa has undercover parking for overnight guests and also plenty of off street car-parking. BOOK NOW