My background of working for many years as a holiday planner inevitably has an influence on my holidays these days. When someone was recently planning a trip to Queensland, it was only natural to suggest destinations such as the tropical rainforests near Cairns and the pristine waters of the Whitsundays’ coast. Having delved a little deeper into my research, I realised that the state’s capital demanded inclusion into the itinerary.

Brisbane Queensland AustraliaBrisbane may have earned a reputation as something of a Gen Y urban playground, but while there is a growing number of flagship boutiques and Melbourne-inspired laneways, there is more to it than inner city bravado. Basing the trip from CBD, close to the lush botanical gardens, the first morning of the plan takes you to Cleveland, gateway to North Stradbroke Island. ‘Minjerribah’ to its indigenous Quandamooka people and ‘Straddie’ to other locals, the island is a favourite getaway for many city dwellers wishing to explore the native wildlife.

Having arrived by ferry at the main port of Dunwich, one heads along Nazi Road to the Blue Lake area, in the Naree Budjong Djara (‘My Mother Earth’) National Park, the base for two walking tracks, Neembeeba and Karboora. Given the often-high temperatures, it’s usually best to opt for the easier 5km return trip through the banksias and eucalypts of the Karboora trail. The area is home to birds such as honeyeaters and lorikeets as well as many freshwater fish and the golden wallaby. Venturing north by car to the popular Point Lookout, you can cast your eye out towards the migrating humpbacks and playful dolphins, all the while soaking up the stunning coastal views.

Returning at dusk you can still catch a bus up to the renowned Caxton Street precinct for a well-earned cocktail at the kitsch Statler & Waldorf. Across the road is the newly-established Brewski, which specialises in craft beer and gourmet pizza. While the next day’s plans demand a sensible bedtime, you may find it hard to prise yourself away from the lively atmosphere of the strip.

Whilst the well-known and nearby Mt Cootha provides hikers and cyclists with rewarding city views for the physical challenges they present, you can also take an early morning drive north towards the volcanic peaks of the Glass House Mountains NP. If you feel guilty about taking the easy option, try taking a hike up Mt Tibrogargan’s summit route, at the end of which you will find yourself a satisfying 364m above sea level. For the less experienced, the Tibrogargan or Trachyte walking circuits would be a safer option. After that, there’s time for a quick lunch before setting off to Mt Beerwah, the highest of the four peaks in the range and home to many birds including peregrine falcons, kookaburras and cockatoos as well as koalas, goannas, echidnas and well-camouflaged kangaroos.

If you have an interest in such things, the rapidly growing alternative and vegan culture of the West End, one of Brisbane’s most multiciltural of suburbs should be your next stop. Enjoy the raucous live music of the Lock ‘N Load Bistro. Enter the narrow, bustling bar that possesses a lush beer garden, an unusual rarity in Brisbane. Among the vegan offerings on the menu are the spiced sweet potato falafels with quinoa salad, a wholesome and delicious choice. If you’re in the party mood, head on over to ‘the valley’, where locals go to party into the wee hours. More live music is usually on offer at the New Orleans-themed Papa Jacks, where the attentive staff will whip up a cocktail from scratch based on your tastes and budget (as long as it stretches over $15, that is).

After partying at the Family nightclub, it may be time to call it an evening (a rather late evening, all the same) and retire to reflect on the two extremes of this amazing and unique city. From its invigorating natural beauty to a hip and happening urban scene, Brisbane caters for many and disappoints few.

Author Bio
Mary Ann Keeling is a travel planner from Brisbane. She is still in love with her home town and always in the mood to talk about life in the city. In her free time she likes to drive her bike through the Brisbane suburbs.

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As the home of national hunt horse racing, the United Kingdom boasts some excellent and exciting festivals. From Ascot to Aintree, some of the best known racecourses in the world play host across the season, however, one stands out above the rest.

The Cheltenham Festival takes place every March, and is seen as the jewel in jumps racing’s crown. With millions watching worldwide as the very best horses, jockeys and trainers battle it out in 27 races over the festival’s four days, Cheltenham has provided racing with some of its greatest moments.

The 2014 Cheltenham Festival will be no different. The festivities get off to a bang on March 11th with the first race of the festival, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. A fast paced race, the 2014 favourite is Irving, unbeaten in his career so far, and available at 5/2 with Coral.

As this race begins, the large crowd will let out the traditional Cheltenham Roar, enough to send a shiver down the spine of every racing fan.

Travelling to the Festival

Cheltenham is easily accessed from any direction, with excellent links to nearby bigger cities such as Birmingham by both car, coach and train. For international visitors, it is best served by Birmingham International Airport, which is just a short train journey away from Cheltenham itself.

The journey will be more than worthwhile, soaking up the atmosphere and being one of the more than 200,000 spectators that will witness the very best racing over the course of the festival is a memorable experience for both hardcore and casual racing fans alike.

The Biggest Races at the Festival

The highlight of the first day’s racing is always the Champion Hurdle. Run at a fast pace, this race has produced some fan-favourites over the years, none more so than Hurricane Fly. The Irish-trained hurdler will be going for his third win in this event, and would be an extremely popular winner with the crowd. Priced as a joint 3/1 favourite alongside The New One with Coral, this race could be electric, all the latest odds can be seen at Cheltenham.coral.couk.

However, the highlight of the entire festival will not take place until the final day, when the very best stayers line up for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. A true test of technique and speed, the Gold Cup is a crowd-favourite. Last year’s winner Bobs Worth is this year’s favourite to win at 7/4. Nevertheless, a strong field lining up against him and could run him close.

The Cheltenham Festival must be attended to truly appreciate its magic, with a week full of the best racing entertainment awaiting the lucky spectators.

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Where is Mount Mabu?

Mount Mabu MozambiqueI watched a documentary about this rainforest and it caught my imagination. Fancy using today’s technology ‘Google Earth’ and discovering a forgotten rainforest deep in the mountainous north of Mozambique! The video below is an interview with Dr Julian Bayliss about the discovery back in 2005 and further links to news articles from the time. Extraordinary stuff!

Mount Mabu and its surrounding virgin rainforest in northern Mozambique covers approximately 7,000 hectares. Mount Mabu is approximately 1,700 m (5,600 ft) high. Although it was known locally, the Mount Mabu forest and its extremely diverse wildlife were unknown to plant and animal scientists until 2005. It was ‘discovered’ by scientists from Kew Royal Botanic Gardens by browsing Google Earth’s satellite view to look for potential unknown wildlife hotspots in Africa. It is frequently referred to as the ‘Google Forest’ and the ‘Butterfly Forest’.

Lonely Planet Zambia Mozambique & Malawi


TravelTipsPlus Google Map of Mount Mabu

One Great Reason to Visit Mount Mabu

One great reason to visit this travel destination is because no one else rarely does!

Dr. Julian Bayliss: The Lost Forest of Mount Mabu

For More Information


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You’ve scrimped and saved, and finally got enough money in the bank to pay for that dream holiday. When you’ve worked towards your getaway you don’t want to waste it, and for most holidaymakers, the best way to get the most out of their travels is to create an itinerary.

What’s the secret to creating a great travel itinerary? One that’ll guarantee an enjoyable holiday for all?

We’ve got some travel tips to help you plan the perfect trip every time.

Travel Plans

Making plans by Tamas

Get tech savvy

Modern holidaymakers have it so lucky. Mobile apps, websites, social networking, Google Maps, review sites – all have made holiday planning a whole lot easier. Embrace the new technology and check out apps like Itinerary for iPhone that lets you plot routes on maps and add notes, and sites like TripIt where you can use professional looking templates to create the most complex of itineraries and share them easily with family and friends.

Blog it

There are loads of online blogs out there that are packed with just the kind of info you crave when you’re trying to plan your perfect holiday. Check out travel blogs like the one over at Choice Hotels. By following blogs like these you’ll find instant travel guides to a range of destinations, as well as info on the nearest accommodation to attractions you might want to see, and you could even bag yourself a discount rate into the bargain. Wherever you’re headed, search for blogs by people who live in the area and you’ll find up-to-date info about everything from what’s on to where to eat, where to shop to what the latest political news is there.

Be realistic

We know you want to milk your holiday for all it’s worth, but it pays to be realistic in the planning stages. After a long haul flight, and an eight hour time difference, are you really going to want to hike up a mountain, then visit some sea caves, a cathedral, archeological museum and go to the theatre? Make exceptions for times when you know you’re going to be tired, and remember – a holiday is supposed to be relaxing.

Get the timing right

When you’re trying to create a realistic itinerary, getting the timings right – for plane travel, car journeys, or journeys on foot – is key. Try to find existing guides online or travel messageboards like Independent Traveler where you can find out from those in the know just how long the drive from A to Z is really going to take.

Planning a Travel Itinerary

Travel itinerary by Dan Barbus


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