Saturday, September 15, 2012


Recently, I came across an application that makes sharing your holiday snaps with friends and family really easy, and better yet, it's free (although there is a premium edition that you can pay for with more bells and whistles).  It's called Smilebox.  Easy to use, easy to share, and no more clogging up your friend's email with huge attachments.

Some happy travellers who utilized the services of our Custom Travel Planning department were kind enough to share some of their Smileboxes with us, to show everyone what a fabulous time they had on their recent adventure.  You'll get a chance so see some true Australian landscapes and wildlife.

Here is Melbourne:
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
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Digital slideshow created with Smilebox

Here's one from Kangaroo Island -- lots of GREAT wildlife shots in this one.
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Photo slideshow personalized with Smilebox

This one is from Uluru Ayers Rock.  Some really great landscapes, along with flora and fauna.
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
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This picture slideshow customized with Smilebox

From the red centre, to the blue ocean....check out the Great Barrier Reef.
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Customize your own picture slideshow

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Brisbane, or Brissy to most locals, is the capital of the state of Queensland, and the 3rd most populous city in Australia.  The Brisbane River, after which the city was named, snakes its way through the area, out past the airport and into Moreton Bay.
Brisbane at dusk

With a nice-sized international airport, Brisbane is an easy place to get to with plenty of non-stop international flight options available from many countries.  From the airport, you can catch a train to the city centre, or south to the Gold Coast.  There is an extensive rail network in the city and surrounding suburbs, that also connects the larger coastal cities together (and some of the inland towns).  The CBD is laid out in a grid pattern, with the streets named for the Royal Family; Queen Street being the main one (naturally!).  The streets that run parallel to Queen Street are all named after females, and the perpendicular streets are named after the men.  Click to see a map of Brisbane, Australia.

I have spent a fair amount of time in Brisbane (and south-east Queensland) over the years, as I have some family members who live there.  I've always felt that for a large, metropolitan city, it has a very laid-back feeling to it.  Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of culture and shopping, etc., but the atmosphere and attitude remind me of a big country town.

There's plenty to see and do, even just in the CBD and surrounding areas.  Part of Queen Street is blocked off to traffic - it's an open air pedestrian mall right in the heart of the city.  Picture a bustling, colourful mix of shops, restaurants, cafes, businesses, tourists, locals, buskers and other entertainment.  The Myer Centre is a long-time fixture of Queen Street, with a bus terminal underground, and 9 floors of shopping, eating and entertainment above.

If you like to gamble, you can visit the Treasury Casino and Hotel at the top of the Queen Street Mall.  Set in two heritage buildings, the outside show a glimpse of grandeur from days past.  A leisurely stroll from there can take you to the city Botanic Gardens next to the river at Gardens Point.
Botanic Gardens in the heart of the city
Across the river from the CBD you will find a lovely oasis in the city known as Southbank.  Developed specifically for World Expo 88, this area offers art, culture, nature, shopping, restaurants, a water park and on the weekends they have markets where you can find unique gifts and crafts.  All this, and it's only a stone's throw from the city centre.  In the vicinity you will also find the Queensland Museum, the Queensland Art Gallery, State Library and Performing Arts Complex.

One place that you just can't miss visiting is the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.  You might have seen me mention this place in my post - Cute & Cuddly or Dangerous & Deadly.  Rated one of the "Top 10 Zoos in the World" by AOL, it's approximately 13 km (8 mi) from the CBD and you can get there by car, bus or boat.  Despite the name, they have a huge range of wildlife to admire.

You know how real estate agents use the phrase "location, location, location"?  Well, that should apply for holiday planning also!  Brisbane is situated in the perfect location to base yourself where you can enjoy day trips out of the city.  You have the Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise only 80 km (50 mi) south, Lamington National Park is approximately 100 km (62 mi) south, and the Sunshine Coast about 100 km (62 mi) north. You can find out all about these places and more on our Brisbane, Gold Coast, Lamington, Noosa, Sunshine Coast Sightseeing and Activities page.
Lamington National Park just south of Brisbane
You can find a great deal on Brisbane Hotels on our website, which compares hundreds of online provides for you so you don't have to do the legwork.  While you're there, saving money, also check out our car rental in Australia page, so that you can have the freedom to drive yourself to all of these great areas in and around Brisbane.  Just remember, we drive on the left!

If I can answer any questions you might have about Brisbane, please just leave me a comment and I'll be happy to address them.

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