HIGHLIGHT OF NT, Litchfield National Park. DARWIN, AUSTRALIA




Litchfield National Park


Litchfield National Park is located in the Northern Territory of Australia. Litchfield, or Litchy as it is affectionately known, is a gorgeous natural wonderland set in the outback, about 130kms away from Darwin. Patches of monsoon rainforest thrive in the deep, narrow gorges created over thousands of years. Wildlife such as wallabies and birds flourish in the Park and can often be seen while travelling through. Gigantic termite mounds stand up to 6 meters tall, others grow in a north-south orientation, acting as a built in temperature controlled micro environment.




Litchfield is probably most famous for its spring fed waterfalls which flow all year round. Below the cascading waterfalls of the sandstone plateau are crystal-clear swimming holes lined with pandanas palms and paper bark trees. These are great places to escape the heat and take in the area by swimming and snorkeling.

Buley Rockhole and Florence Falls are undoubtedly Litchfield’s most visited swimming spots as they are easily accessed by short walks through monsoonal forest and are basically open all year round for swimming.

Given the distance, you will need a car to get there, or failing that, you could jump on one of the tours that visit regularly. Another important aspect is that the Territory runs on two seasons – the wet and the dry . If you are planning a visit, then you are going to want to visit in the dry season (April/May – September/October) which is when the Territory comes alive! Litchfield is closed in the wet season so that is yet another reason to visit in the dry. With multiple waterfalls, camping areas, hikes and 4WD tracks there is so much to see here at the park.



We parked at Florence Falls and walked up the path to Buley Rockhole, stopping at some of the quieter water spots to cool off along the way. As you follow the path, just look out for the posts which will lead you into these quieter spots. We took our time and explored each little area. After a quick swim at the Buley Rockhole, which is one of the more popular swimming areas, we ventured back down the path and took the stairs down to Florence Falls.




There is a great lookout before the stairs which gives a stunning vantage point of the water wonderland that you are about to swim in.

Florence Falls was magical! We got straight into the cool, clear waters enjoying the beauty of the waterfalls in front of us – and we weren’t the only ones. Swimming with us were locals and travelers alike all laughing, taking photos and enjoying their time in the water.




Last stop for the morning was Wangi Falls, and based on the number of people there the most popular, which quite deserves as they are really quite stunning.  This is also a popular swimming spot with plenty of groups setting up for the day as there are nice lawns and bbq’s at the entrance.




Driving around the National Park there are certainly no shortages of warnings to only swim in the designated spots due to crocodiles. Every little creek crossing on the roads had crocodile warning signs..



The next day we decided to hit the 4WD tracks around Litchfield and our first stop was the Lost City. We got there around 9am and we were the only ones there which were quite surprising for Litchfield, and even better people only started arriving as we were driving out.  There is a very easy loop walk of around 500 metres that takes you through the rock formations and it does look like a Lost City with mini sky scrapers and buildings toppled over.



From here we drove down to the Blyth Homestead, an outstation that was established in 1928. Inside there is a good storybook of the family, outlining the hardships they faced back in those days.  It really makes you realize how easy our lives are compared to how these people used to live. From there was a  short drive down to the termite mounds.



We definitely recommend a visit to the Litchfield National Park if you are visiting Darwin, pack a lunch and enjoy the day exploring. You will not regret it!



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4 THINGS TO DO WHEN VISITING TOOWOOMBA, QUEENSLAND. AUSTRALIA

Toowoomba, Queensland. Australia


Crisp winter air, knee-deep autumn leaves, clear summer days and a riot of colour in spring; nowhere else in Queensland will you experience all four seasons as distinctively as right here. Just 90 minutes from Brisbane, Toowoomba crowns the edge of the Great Dividing Range 700 metres above sea level, overlooking the Lockyer Valley. So close but a world away. Southern Queensland Country’s biggest town still has a country town vibe.


COBB+CO MUSEUM



This one of Toowoomba’s must-see tourist destination.

The Museum is part of the Queensland Museum Network and is home to the National Carriage Collection. You can discover a variety of interactive displays, exhibits and heritage trade workshops. You can mmerse yourself in Toowoomba’s natural and cultural history and revisit an Australian transport era. Wander through the charming National Carriage Collection and discover how the 47 horse-drawn vehicles played an important role in the development of Queensland. 





The kids will love stepping back in time to play in The Coach Stop play area. Watch them become shop attendants in the old Museum General Store, dress them up in old fashion clothes or give them a ride on the life-sized replica horse. Get your hands on history with a variety of heritage workshops with one to five day workshops suited from beginner to expert. Experience the satisfaction of learning a traditional skill and creating something beautiful yet functional by hand. Take a break in Cobb’s Coffee Shop and try Toowoomba’s best scones. Located a just short walk across from Toowoomba’s iconic Queens Park.



JU RAKU EN JAPANESE GARDEN, TOOWOOMBA



When ever we head up the range, our first stop is Toowoomba’s most peaceful and beautiful parks, Ju Raku En Japanese Garden. The garden is four and a half hectares located on the northern side of the University of Southern Queensland campus. It’s Australia’s largest and most traditionally designed Japanese stroll garden. Its elements of mountain stream and waterfall, Dry Garden, central lake, Azalea Hill, three kilometres of paths, 230 species of Japanese and Australian native trees and plants, and lawns combine in a seamless and restful harmony. 




Japanese gardens emphasise the use of rocks to create three dimensional pictures. All of the large rocks in Ju Raku En were placed by the garden’s designer, Professor Kinsaku Nakane of Kyoto, to appear naturally dispersed in a random way. You can stroll through the garden or relax on the seat near the Dry Garden; it’s not uncommon to see artists quietly painting a scene or children feeding bread to the fish or birds, which include swans, ducks, geese and smaller natives. Japanese maples provide a riot of autumn colour, while in spring masses of lilac blossoms hang from the Wisteria Pergola, the perfect backdrop for a wedding.

PICNIC POINT LOOKOUT AND PARKLAND



Toowoomba’s heritage-listed Picnic Point Lookout and Parkland comprises 160-acres perched high on the crest of the Great Dividing Range, with panoramic views over Main Range and Lockyer Valley. Be greeted upon entry with an avenue of mature hoop pine (Auracaria cunnninghamii) and South Queensland kauri (Agathis robusta) before the parklands opens into manicured lawns.



Pre-pack a picnic or stop by the cafe and restaurant before nestling on a section of quiet grasslands under a bunya tree. You can let the kids test out the playground and children’s train (only operating on weekends), and later set off on the walking trails to nearby waterfalls and Table Top Mountain, drawing sightseers and picnic goers every day of the week. The lower section of the park can also be accessed via Tobruk Memorial Drive and is another ideal location for impressive vistas and social picnics.


EMPIRE THEATRE



Toowoomba’s Empire Theatre is a heritage listed art-deco venue that provides a wide variety of performing arts for every taste. The Empire is Australia’s largest regional performing arts complex and stages world class shows from leading national and international performers as well as showcasing a wealth of local talent.  Whether it is popular music, ballet, comedy or any live performance, the lavish art-deco styling of the venue combined with its state of the art technology makes for a magical and memorable experience. 




The Empire Theatre also offers historical tours and attracts many visitors each year. The complex is also a popular choice for conferences and events, including weddings, offering a unique experience to guests. The tour is a must for photograghers, like us.




Whatever your fancy, this picturesque mountain city has plenty to see and do, from boutique wineries and spectacular lookout points to antique stores and art galleries. We are caffeine addicts, so for coffee that never disappoints we always head to our favourite deli, Wendland Fine Foods. You know you visit far too often when they start making your coffee as you walk in the door. A visit to a few of the great antique shops and art galleries, interspersed with regular coffee stops (of course) makes for a lovely day out. Tosari Galleries at the top of Margaret Street and Range Antiques on Burke Street are a good place to start.

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BURLEIGH HEADS, QUEENSLAND AUSTRALIA

Burleigh Heads, Qld

Come for the surf, stay for the one-of-a-kind shopping, top-notch food, trendy markets and natural beauty.



Sitting pretty between Surfers Paradise and Coolangatta, Burleigh Heads is so much more than a hotspot for pumping breaks. It is a holiday destination in itself on the Gold Coast, with chic beach vibes coming in strong every which way you turn; from the window to the wall of the designer and vintage shops peppered along James Street.





Our first stop was at the Village Markets. After walking into the backend of Burleigh Heads State School and catching that first colorful glimpse of stall after stall of creative goodness, it was time for me to get a quick coffee fix while Kim explored the stores of funky threads for little and big goers, to vintage treasures and tropical homewares. This is one of Kim’s favorite markets on the Gold Coast.




From the markets we ducked into the Burleigh Arcade on James Street for breakfast at Social Brew Burleigh. The new cafe on the block is a hidden tropical oasis and has become a local’s favorite with its lively decor, iconic yellow Social Brew coffee cups and yummy food.
You can’t go past one of their fresh cold-pressed juices when ordering from the all-day breakfast menu. But if you need caffeine hit to jump-start the morning, get their deconstructed iced coffee complete with lab flask and poison bottles filled with sweet syrup and definitely not poison.

James Street is to Burleigh Heads what Chapel Street is to Melbourne; it’s the go-to shopping spot for Kim’s retail therapy fix.



Another spot worth a mention is the small shopping nook inside the Old Burleigh Theatre Arcade on Goodwin Terrace, where you’ll find The Freedom State, LA Pearl and Six Things.
Six Things is seriously one of the coolest pop culture shops Kim ever laid eyes on




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We worked off breakfast with a walk through Burleigh Head National Park.  Burleigh HeadS National Park is home to rainforest, eucalypt forest, pandanus groves, tussock grassland, coastal heath, mangroves, creeks, rocky foreshore and beaches. We followed the tracks which lead around the rocky headland from Tallebudgera Creek to the southern edge of Burleigh Heads Township. We relaxed by the creek at Echo Beach, viewed some tumbled masses of six-sided basalt columns, and possibly caught a glimpse of a pod of dolphins out at sea.





Moving on the afternoon and being a Sunday afternoon and starting to come down from the weekend high and feeling a little bummed knowing it’s all over. We headed to Finders Keepers Bar & Dining Lounge to listen to some live acoustic tunes, have some tasty bar snacks, and cold drinks (hello Pimm’s jug and $5 Coronas) We watched a cracking sunset and said good bye to another great weekend adventure.



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