Travel special! Offbeat is the new commercial: Check out these far-out experiences in Australia
The charms of offbeat locations are swaying every traveller across the world and no wonder they are the new favourite in everyone’s travel wishlist.
Be it a foodie or an explorer, New South Wales has activities and destinations waiting to explore that will satiate the palate of diverse travellers. So, pack your bags and get ready to take an ‘Off-beat’ trip ‘Down Under’!
New Train Experience for Journey Beyond
A new train is set to launch onto Australian tracks later this year between Adelaide and Brisbane for 16 departures in its much-anticipated inaugural season.
The new Great Southern train will explore the incredible landscapes and experiences across Australia’s diverse south-eastern corner with the option of a three-day northbound itinerary or a four-day southbound itinerary.
Great Southern’s maiden travel season will extend from 6 December 2019 through to 27 January 2020. Comprising 28 carriages and two locomotives, Great Southern will accommodate up to 214 guests per journey.
On-board accommodation will include the option of Gold Single and Gold Twin cabins, as well as the more exclusive Platinum cabins.
As travellers have come to expect from The Ghan and Indian Pacific, exceptional food and wine and world-class hospitality will be at the heart of the Great Southern experience, along with many opportunities to explore beyond the tracks.
The two-night, three-day northbound journey features opportunities to step off the train to experience the nation’s capital Canberra, and the stunning northern New South Wales coast.
The four-day southbound journey will include an incredible beachside dining experience in northern NSW, and an immersive day in the Hunter Valley and Newcastle region.
All fares are inclusive of onboard dining, beverages and Off Train Excursions. The Great Southern is now open for sale.
Adventure Cruise of Newcastle and the Hunter Coast
Coast XP is a premier adventure cruise experience based in Newcastle offering coastal interactions and experiences on the Hunter Coast. There are four cruises to choose from that showcase Newcastle’s history and harbour with open-ocean cruising along the coastline.
Each tour includes commentary on the history of the port and city of Newcastle, marine life and local geology.
The Adventure Tour operates from November to May, taking guests along 30 km of the stunning Hunter coastline, with stops to marvel at sea caves, Catherine Hill Bay jetty and the resident marine life.
The Cruise Tour is a combined port and offshore adventure cruise, designed for cruise passengers to Newcastle. On the Sunset Tour (Friday and Saturday evenings) guests enjoy a relaxing cruise on Newcastle Harbour and the Hunter River.
The Encounter Tour operates during whale-watching season from June to November and offers the chance to experience these majestic creatures as they migrate along the coastline. Bespoke tours are also available for groups.
Walking and Food Tasting Adventure in Barangaroo and the Rocks
Sydney’s multicultural food scene brings together the cuisines of the world with fresh Australian produce.
Taste Tours - Taste of Sydney is the perfect start to any trip for lovers of food, culture and history, taking guests on a journey where they will discover what the foodies know and where the locals go.
Guests sample Australia’s favourite dishes, meet some of the locals and hear the stories of the people who bring their passion to the table.
The tour explores The Rocks, Sydney's oldest colonial area, and Barangaroo, Sydney's newest urban suburb with picture-perfect views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The Taste of Sydney is a three and a half hour fully guided walking and tasting tour that includes generous multicultural speciality tastings from premium restaurants to a pub and patisserie. Tours depart Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 1.30pm. Guests need a reasonable level of fitness.
iFLY Downunder (Sydney West) Indoor Skydiving
Skydive indoors with iFLY Downunder in one of the world’s largest vertical wind tunnels. A wind generator will lift you effortlessly into flight on a cushion of air inside a giant glass tube. It’s the equivalent of a freefall skydive from 4 km above the Earth.
In a safe and controlled environment, you’ll learn the flying skills of expert skydivers. The iFLY Intro package is for 1.5 hours and includes two flights, one-to-one instruction, a comprehensive pre-flight briefing and all gear. There are weight limits.
Flyers can be as young as three years’ old. Children under 18 years of age need to have a parent or a guardian’s signature on their waiver. Once you’ve gained more flight experience, you’ll be able to fly with others of the same skill level in the tunnel.
Open seven days a week, the centre is in Penrith in Sydney’s west, next to the Penrith Panthers entertainment complex. From Town Hall station in the city centre, take a train to Penrith Station, where you board a bus for Penrith Panthers.
Luna Park Sydney
With spectacular views of Sydney Harbour, Luna Park is an amusement park for children and the young at heart. You’ll have lots of fun on rides such as the Ferris wheel and the Tango Train on the edge of one of the world’s most beautiful harbours.
The entrance to Luna Park is a giant smiling face of the Moon. You can see the beaming smile at Milsons Point from harbourside vantage points around the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Circular Quay, including ferries arriving at and departing the quay.
Please check the Luna Park’s website for monthly opening times. To get to Luna Park, you can walk across the harbour bridge or take a ferry from Circular Quay to Milsons Point Wharf. From Central, Town Hall or Wynyard stations, take a train to Milsons Point.
Hunter Wine Theatre
Watch how grapes are maintained, picked, crushed, fermented, blended and bottled on the big screen in the Hunter Valley Wine Theatre, two hours’ drive north of Sydney. Then enjoy an insightful wine tutorial from the cellarmaster.
The world-famous Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine region. Harvesting is in January and February, but the wine theatre allows you to see an entire year of winemaking in 15 minutes.
The video is followed by a tutorial from the cellarmaster, who will teach you how to taste front-palate sweetness, acidity, back-palate tannins, and how to appreciate a wine’s bouquet.
Shows operate twice daily, at 11 am and 2 pm, in the Hunter Valley Resort. Individual reservations are not required, but seats in the theatre are limited. Groups are required to make reservations in advance. The Hunter Valley Resort is in Pokolbin, amid shiraz vineyards.
Crystal Castle and Shambhala Gardens Byron Bay Hinterland
Deepen your spiritual connection with a visit to Crystal Castle, near Byron Bay, on the marvellous North Coast of NSW. A tranquil destination, the enchanting private botanical gardens contain beautiful crystals and subtropical plants.
A natural playground, tours and experiences include the Shambhala Gardens Tour with a guided meditation at the Blessing Buddha, the Crystal Experience, Music of the Plants and the Peace Experience.
Giant crystals and fossils are throughout the five hectares of splendid gardens and rainforest. At the Lotus Café, you can enjoy delicious food and drinks using lots of local fresh organic produce.
A showroom and gallery offer a wide selection of crystals and jewellery. In Mullumbimby, Crystal Gardens is open seven days a week, 10 am to 5 pm, except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Good Friday.
Crystal Castle is 20 minutes’ drive from Byron Bay. Buses depart Sydney for Byron Bay. You can also travel by train from Sydney to Casino, where you take a bus to Byron Bay. Airlines from Sydney service Ballina Byron Gateway Airport, near Mullumbimby and Byron Bay.
Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures
Enjoy the exhilaration of horseriding in the wilderness in Glenworth Valley, only an hour’s drive north of Sydney. You’ll experience rides, guided or free-range, in pretty valleys, along river banks and in eucalypt forests, which are called ‘the bush’ in Australia.
With more than 200 horses and 1,214 hectares of valleys, rivers and forests to explore, Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures has a range of tours for riders of all skill levels, including beginners. And children under seven will be delighted with pony rides.
In the Central Coast’s hinterland, the area is one of Australia’s largest outdoor activities centres. You can enjoy kayaking, abseiling and quad biking. Glenworth Valley is also a popular destination for camping under the stars. Tents are available for rent.
Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures is opened daily, except December 24 and 25 and January 1. Tours generally operate in all weather conditions.
Dolphin Marine Conservation Park
Meet Bucky and other dolphins at Dolphin Marine Magic, in Coffs Harbour on the North Coast of NSW, and enjoy their fun and exciting routines. You can even swim with the friendly mammals at the only zoological park in NSW exhibiting dolphins.
Dolphin Marine Magic began in 1970 as a rescue and rehabilitation centre for native marine animals, and has a successful breeding program for the Australian Sea Lion, an endangered seal.
The park is home to bottlenose dolphins, little penguins, sea lions and Plugga, the green sea turtle. Various opportunities are available for close encounters with dolphins and seals. Have you ever been kissed by a dolphin or seal?
Two daily Marine Discovery Presentations at 10 am and 1 pm involve both dolphins and seals in marvellous performances together. There are also small group encounters such as the Ultimate Dolphin Experience, where you spend 20 minutes in the water with a playful dolphin.
The park is open daily, from 9 am to 4 pm. From Sydney, the drive to Coffs Harbour is six hours. You can also travel by train. Airlines fly daily from Sydney to Coffs Harbour Airport.
Scenic World Blue Mountains
Enjoy thrilling adventures with Scenic World in the Blue Mountains, a World Heritage wilderness near Sydney. You’ll travel on the world’s steepest incline passenger railway into ancient rainforest and glide between rugged cliff tops on a glass-floored cable car.
Less than two hours’ drive west of Sydney, the Blue Mountains are named after the natural blue haze created by the vast eucalypt forests. From Sydney’s Central Station, the train trip is two hours to Katoomba, where there are buses for the short trip to Scenic World.
On Scenic World’s Scenic Railway, you’ll descend at an incline of 52 degrees through a cliff-side tunnel. At the bottom, explore Jurassic rainforest on the Scenic Walkway, a 2.4 km elevated boardwalk in the Jamison Valley.
You can also descend to the valley on the Scenic Cableway in an enclosed cabin. On the way down to the valley, enjoy spectacular views. Scenic Skyway, suspended 270 metres above ravines, travels between cliff tops and has a glass floor to see the forest canopy.
Scenic World is open every day of the year, from 9 am to 5 pm.