• Sydney Australia - credit Jackie Appleton

Vist Australia’s Coral Coast……………

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Bottle Bay, Francois Peron National Park

We have just received Tourism Western Australia’s Newsletter and one of the places they talk about is the wonderful Australia’s Coral Coast.

Australia’s Coral Coast covers approximately 1,100 kilometres of coastline along the stunning Indian Ocean. Journeying north from Perth, you can encounter many of Western Australia’s top attractions, beaches, family holiday destinations and some of the greatest spectacles on Earth. Here are a few fast facts on Australia’s Coral Coast:


  • The Pinnacles are the southern gateway to Australia’s Coral Coast region. Regarded as one of Australia’s most unique landscapes they are believed to have been created millions of years ago as seashells were broken down into sand and then eroded by water and wind. These incredible limestone spires rise eerily out of the sand, some several metres tall.
  • Australia’s Coral Coast is home to Australia’s largest fringing reef, the Ningaloo Reef which encompasses over 260km of coastline, at its closest point within metres of the shore. Ningaloo Reef is an underwater wonderland and one of the most bio diverse reefs in the world – home to 500 species of tropical fish and 220 species of coral.
  • The world’s largest fish, the whale shark, growing up to 18 metres in length, congregates at Ningaloo late March to early July annually, following the mass spawning of coral. Ningaloo is one of the few regions in the world they regularly frequent and are easily accessible to observers.



Snorkelling with whale shark, Ningaloo Reef


  • Shark Bay World Heritage Area become Western Australia’s first World Heritage-listed area in 1991 and is now one of only two in Western Australia. The region is unique as it fits all four natural criteria for World Heritage status.
  • Shark Bay is home to Monkey Mia, the only place in Australia where wild bottlenose dolphins visit the shore daily rather than seasonally.
  • Kalbarri National Park is located on the lower reaches of the Murchison River, cutting magnificent gorges for 80 kilometres, as it carves its way to the sea, creating spectacular inland gorges and coastal cliffs.

If you are planning a visit to Western Australia the above are a ‘must see’ and to incorporate any of them into your bespoke tailor made holiday, please give our Australian expert a call on 01323 446550 or email info@experienceholidays.co.uk and let us help you make it a holiday you will never forget!!

All photos courtesy of Tourism Western Australia.



Monkey Mia Dolphin and Pelican



Ariel View of Monkey Mia

Australia at the Top of its Game…

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Sunset at Causarina Beach taken by a Client

And we are not talking about the cricket! With the pound strengthening against the Australian Dollar now, travelling to Australia is back on the agenda. It is a place that needs time or you should concentrate on certain areas that are top of your list to make the most of your time there.
Australia is one of those destinations that gives you the choice of experiences at different cost levels. As many of us have found out, our children have taken to the backpacker route and thoroughly enjoyed them on a very limited budget.
However, if long coach journeys and barrack room accommodation is not for you, then we can suggest the completely opposite end of the spectrum.
Luxury Lodges of Australia offer exactly that – luxury accommodation in some of the most stunning locations. The emphasis is on top quality rooms, excellent food and wine and in exclusive places of the key areas of Australia.
Imagine having spent a couple of nights at the Louise Barossa Valley in the centre of the South Australia winelands where you have had the chance to taste the wines and perhaps have a lesson in pasta cooking and then within half a day of travelling be staying in Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island, perched on the cliff top in one of Australia’s prime wildlife viewing places.
Luxury Lodges are set in all of the iconic sites of Australia and each one giving you a top class experiences while staying and exploring their region. This is a truly an exciting and luxurious way to explore a destination that many of us want to visit.
To find out more or to get professional help putting together your own bespoke Australian Holiday, contact our Australia expert on 01323 446550 or email: info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Australia, Australia, Australia…..

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Picture courtesy of Tourism Australia

Are you thinking of taking your next holiday in Australia?? Would you like to make it a holiday to remember?? Well here are a few things you might want to consider adding………

Whale Tales from Western Australia
Everyone asks if it’s scary, swimming with a whale shark. Thrilling, yes, squeal-inducing, of course, but there is also something serene about gliding through the water with the ocean’s biggest fish. Why not try it in Western Australia’s Coral Coast, Ningaloo Reef!! A Spotter plane buzzes overhead watching and waiting to let you know when there is one close, keeping your eyes locked downwards you can tick off turtles, sting rays and electric blue stag coral. Then when the first whale shark shout goes up, you line up and slip into the water. There you could see twice the length of a family hatchback, a giant Whale Shark, take pictures and swim with them, then after be coaxed back on the boat with a promise of a gourmet lunch and humpback whale watching – July is a great month for combining both at Ningaloo Reef.

Best of the Kimberley – new tour
Kimberley Wild Expeditions is launching a new 10 Day Trail through one of the world’s last great wildernesses. Travelling from Broome to Darwin (and reverse), it will offer fantastic walking amongst the national parks, swimming in waterfalls and the chance to spot wildlife from kangaroos and crocs to amazing birds.
The new tour, which starts in April 2014, will travel the iconic Gibb River Road, explore the West Kimberley Gorges, El Questro Wilderness Park, Purnululu National Park for the Bungle Bungle Range and Katherine (Nitmiluk) Gorge. The itinerary also allows for a full day in Kununurra, on which travellers can cruise the mighty Ord River & Lake Argyle or take a flight over the dramatic Mitchell Falls. All Kimberley Trail travellers will stay at the new private Bungle Bungles Safari Camp.

Go truffle hunting in Western Australia
It is truffle season in Western Australia. Last year the state produced a record crop of these ‘black diamonds’ and is the biggest producer outside Europe. From June until the end of August The Wine & Truffle Co in Australia’s South West offers visitors the chance to participate in the excitement of a truffle hunt, using champion dogs who will guide you to discover and locate the rare and delicious black Perigord truffle.

Rawnsley Park Station launches Free Sunset Tour
The Flinders Ranges is a fantastic region to visit year-round, with a host of tours and outdoor activities available to enable visitors to make the most of this stunning area. Rawnsley Park Station’s ‘Sunset on the Chace’ tour is a great way to enjoy the adventure of a 4WD tour through the rugged terrain of the surrounding area, and enjoy the luxury of witnessing a stunning sunset over Wilpena Pound and the Flinders Ranges accompanied by a glass of local wine and some nibbles. Rawnsley Park Station’s Eco Villas are a fantastic choice for those looking for a luxury escape in the heart of the outback. Eight, Eco-Certified villas are the perfect base for exploring the area, and all come with large, spacious kitchen and living areas, and beautifully appointed bedrooms with skylights in the ceiling so you can lie back and watch the stars from the comfort of your own bed.

This is just a snippet of what Australia has to offer!! To find out more on the above or anything else in Australia to make your bespoke tailor made holiday a reality please contact us on 01323 446550 or email info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Rail Journeys of Australia

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The Ghan Train, Alice Springs

Whether you are a rail enthusiast keen to include a train journey wherever you visit, or whether you simply like to include a range of local experiences during your holiday, taking one of Australia’s iconic rail journeys is likely to be a highlight.

This vast country is home to a great number of remote outback communities, and the building of the railway lines through these regions fast became a lifeline for the locals – transporting goods and medication as well the locals themselves. Today, these routes provide just as much of a lifeline as they did when first built, and to take these journeys gives a fantastic insight into the local way of life, a chance to meet some of those that call the outback home, and to see a large part of the huge sprawling country that makes up Australia.

Accommodation ranges from economy class seats similar to those on aircraft, to private cabins with flat beds and private washroom facilities – there is a class of travel to suit almost any budget. There are also rail passes that can encompass a wide range of rail travel within the country for a specified length of time.

The Ghan train connects Darwin in the north with Adelaide in the South, and stops en route at Alice Springs in the Red Centre. The complete journey takes two nights, and to take it as far as Alice Springs is an overnight trip.

The Indian Pacific connects Perth in the west with Sydney in the east, and stops en route in Adelaide. The entire journey takes three nights, from Perth to Adelaide takes two nights, and from Adelaide to Sydney is an overnight journey.



The Indian Pacific

The new Spirit of Queensland will take the route previously the operated by the Tilt Train and Sunlander, between Brisbane and Cairns on the east coast. The entire journey is an overnight trip, but can be broken down into shorter sections in order to visit various points of interest along this stunning coast.

Any of these journeys can be easily incorporated into a bespoke tailor made Australian holiday – for further information and advice, please call our office on 01323 446550, or email us at info@experienceholidays.co.uk and we can work with you to put together the right itinerary for you.

Pictures Copyright of Great Southern Rail Australia

A Little bit of Luxury

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Vicki Tester


If you have ever fancied a special luxury adventure cruise, then why not consider adding a True North Cruise to your bespoke Australia itinerary.  A number of exciting itineraries are offered – below are just three of these:


The Southern Safari (8 Nights) Adelaide – Ceduna / Adelaide

The is a real safari of the sea and a real adventure for those who like plenty of activities with a touch of luxury.  On this cruise you will stop for a scrumptious lunch at Maggie Beer’s farm, visit the famed Kangaroo Island and beautiful Coffin Bay where you can wash down oysters with champagne.  Then why not get up and close with the Great White Sharks in a cage dive and also take part in some of Australia’s most reliable fishing action, this is  safari with a difference!

Picture courtesy of True North



Picture courtesy of True North


















Relish in vibrant contrast – the deep blue waters of the Indian Ocean lap the red sands of the ‘north’ as the West Coast Explorer winds its way north from Fremantle to Dampier. The Abrolhos are steeped in history; Ningaloo boasts world-acclaimed marine life and the Montes offer fishing paradise – the ‘West Coaster’ is a sojourn that tames Australia’s still-wild western shores! A must for snorkelers and divers, fishing enthusiasts, and for the adventurous at heart!

Picture courtesy of True North






Picture courtesy of True North















CORAL ATOLL CRUISE (5 NIGHTS) Broome – Rowley Shoals – Broome

The Rowley Shoals feature exaggerated corals, mind-blowing fish life and stunning underwater clarity; but perhaps more important than anything else – even today they are visited by only a fortunate few! Guided by a marine biologist and a team of underwater naturalists; divers and snorkelers alike will revel in a diverse wonderland of coral habitats including maze-like lagoons, surging tidal canyons and breath-taking walls. And the keen anglers will match wits with big blue-water pelagics such as black marlin, sailfish, wahoo and yellow-fin tuna. Wander the enticing shores of Bedwell Island, see the rookeries of the red-tailed tropicbird and indulge in a True North favourite – sunset drinks on the beach – 300 kilometres from the shore! The Rowley Shoals are Western Australia’s premiere coral playground!

Picture courtesy of True North

Picture courtesy of True North





















For more of our favourite cruises click here or if you would like more information on the amazing True North Cruises then please contact us

Australia’s Great Railway Journey’s – BBC 2

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Vicki Tester


Picture courtesy of Great Southern Rail


If you would like to find out more of what Australia’s railways have to offer then make sure you tune in to BBC 2 at 20:00 on Saturday 26 October to watch Michael Portillo’s Great Australian Railway Journeys.

There will be six episodes starting with The Ghan – Port Augusta to Darwin in episode one.  The other episode we recommend not to miss is episode three The Indian Pacific, but all are great journeys.

These are a couple of our favourite railway journeys in Australia and a fantastic way to see the country.  If you like what you see and would like to know how to corporate a railway journey into your bespoke tailor-made holiday to Australia then please contact us.


Picture courtesy of Great Southern Rail

Picture courtesy of Great Southern Rail


Picture courtesy of Great Southern Rail

Picture courtesy of Great Southern Rail

Picture courtesy of Great Southern Rail

Have you considered Western Australia?

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Kirsty Saunders


With 12,500 km’s of stunning coastline, 550 species of birds, 12,000 species of wildflowers, and just a little short of 2 million people, Western Australia is a destination in its own right, and without a doubt, Australia’s best kept secret.  With the Indian Ocean lapping the western shores, and the Southern Ocean to the South, the state of Western Australia quite literally smothers the western end of the vast country of Australia.  Perth is the gateway, the major city, and home to a large number of the total population of WA (1.4 million actually which doesn’t leave many for the rest of the State!).

View of the city from Kings Park. Photo courtesy of Nick Walker

Perth has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. It is the sunniest capital city in Australia! Perth is a modern city with a good choice of internationally recognised hotels and apartments. The shopping is good, the city is clean and friendly, and the surrounding wine regions stunning. It boasts the scenic Swan river with its famous black swans, nearby hectares of natural bushland in Kings Park, beautiful beaches, whales, dolphins and the little Quokka on Rottnest Island (a protected nature reserve). It is not too difficult to see why Perth is a popular lifestyle city.

Rottnest Island – photo courtesy of Nick Walker

Quokka – Photo courtesy of Tourism Australia

Perth is the hub, the starting point to explore the rest of Western Australia, and whilst it is possible to visit several places of interest outside Perth on a day trip – for some of these places the distances are huge, with day excursions leaving early in the morning and returning late in the evening.

As far as day trips are concerned once you have cruised along the Swan river to Fremantle and spent a day or two at Rottnest Island, you could consider a trip to Rockingham. Here you can swim with the wild dolphins with or visit as a spectator to see these beautiful animals in their natural environment. They are not fed or made to perform, they simply come because they enjoy human interaction.

If you hire a car, not too far outside the city you can visit Yanchep National Park, where you can enjoy nature-based activities, you will find caves, the Koala boardwalk (home to a colony of Koalas), and a tree adventure park for the kids, with ziplines and rope walks. You are also likely to see wild black cockatoos as well as other parrots and possibly kangaroos too!

A venture out to the famous Cottesloe beach is another day trip to consider. This pretty beach looking out across the Indian ocean boasts beautiful white sand and numerous cafes and bars. In the evening enjoy beautiful sunsets and watch the Rainbow Lorikeets as they come in their hundreds to roost in the pine trees.

Another suggestion is a trip out to the Pinnacles. This will be a long day but worth it. The Pinnacles are limestone formations found within an otherworldly desert landscape in Nambung National Park. An extraordinary site and a great photographic opportunity! You could make this a stop en route if you were driving along the west coast.

The Pinnacles – photo courtesy of Tourism Australia

South of Perth will take you into the Margaret River wine regions of the south west, well worth exploring. There are day trips available if you are using Perth as your base, or you could stop by for a few days. A must see for any visitor to the Margaret River region is Busselton with its heritage listed Jetty. The longest wooden-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere it extends over Geographe Bay for 1.8 kilometres. You can take a leisurely train ride down the jetty to the underwater observatory at the end, where you can experience one of Australia’s greatest artificial reefs. Bunbury is also a great place to stop with its basalt rock formations and where bottlenose dolphins visit close to the shore.

Busselton Jetty – photo courtesy of Tourism Australia

If you continue around the south western tip of Australia, the point where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean,  you would discover the beautiful rugged coastline of Albany and its natural wonders ‘The Gap’ and the ‘Natural Bridge’. The first European settlement in Western Australia, see Albany’s colonial architecture and the historic whaling station – now a museum.

The Natural Bridge – photo courtesy of Nick Walker

Albany – photo courtesy of Nick Walker

Whilst you are in this region visit Denmark with its wineries, and the remarkable Treetop Walk  ‘valley of the giants’  in Walpole -Nornalup National Park. The Ariel walkway is 40 metres above the ground amongst the canopy of huge Red Tingle and Karri trees, which are unique to this area.

Tree Top Walk – photo courtesy of Nick Walker

Whilst you are in this neck of the woods we can recommend another wonderful way to spend your day, which is to take an Eco cruise boat trip around the secluded inlets of Walpole and Nornulup. This wilderness is a very special place, a naturalist’s paradise and a real hidden gem.

Continuing along the southern coast of WA, you will reach Esperance. Here you will find beaches amongst the finest and whitest anywhere in the world. Offshore, Fur Seals and Sealions shelter on the islands of the Recherche Archipelago. You can take a scenic flight to see the surreal ‘pink’ lake Hillier on Middle Island.

Esperance – photo courtesy of Tourism Australia

Heading inland from Perth, head to the Outback town of Kalgoorlie. Originally founded during the gold rush of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, this little town has thrived and continues to mine the precious ore from the Super Pit.  Make sure you take the drive up to the viewing platform for views of one of the biggest holes you will ever see!!

Wave Rock – photo courtesy of Tourism Australia

Or by taking a different route inland discover the little town of Hyden, famous for the Wave Rock!  You could combine the two if you made it part of a self-drive route.

If you drive North from Perth, along this remote coast, you will eventually reach Kalbarri (which would take over 6 hours). You can drive through the Kalbarri National Park and see the spectacular Murchison Gorges and take the opportunity to go on a river cruise on the Murchison River. Kalbarri is a delightfully unpretentious fishing village at the mouth of the River, with several simple but wholesome restaurants. As with each community on this route, the locals are genuine, friendly, welcoming and very typically Australian – proud of their country and their heritage without any brashness. Drive to Shark Bay from here and the dolphins at Monkey Mia.  Shark Bay is another gem; pristine coastline, dolphins and dugongs by the dozen and a delightful lack of tourists.

Monkey Mia – photo courtesy of Tourism Australia

It’s another 5 hours drive from here to Ningaloo Reef via Coral Bay.  Coral Bay is a remote and secluded treasure, and second only to the Great Barrier Reef itself. This area is not inundated with tourists and it does not have a huge choice of international resorts and accommodation and but there are some excellent fish restaurants!

Ningaloo Reef – photo courtesy of Tourism Australia

The bay itself is contained within the Ningaloo Reef which offers it perfect protection from the ocean outside.  Here, glass bottomed boats take you to view the coral, whilst longer expeditions will take you further afield, skilfully negotiating the narrow channels through the reef. The Ningaloo Reef is little brother to the Great Barrier Reef.  Closer into the shore, it is easily accessible to all. 500 species of fish are to be found here, plus sharks, enormous manta rays, turtles and dugongs – there is always something to see:

March to May – Coral spawning

March to June – Whale Sharks

June to November – Manta Ray

June/July to October/November – Humpback Whales

November to March – Turtle nesting and hatching.

However long you plan to stay here will probably not be long enough. You could fly to Exmouth in order to visit Coral Bay and Ningaloo Reef if you weren’t planning on driving.

Finally, another destination that you must consider is The Kimberleys, three times the size of England straddling the states of Western Australia and Northern Territories, The Kimberleys offer a perfect location for ‘getting away from it all’ – literally!!  Broome is the major gateway to this region of canyons and gorges and freshwater swimming holes.  Plan the timing of your visit carefully, avoiding the cyclone season when many roads are impassable due to flooding.  Out of the cyclone season, the adventurous traveller will find gorges and rock formations to rival those anywhere in the world. Consider a small group escorted tour here, using 4WD vehicles and a mixture of camping and motel accommodation – this area will leave an indelible mark on your memory. A visit to this region would certainly involve an internal flight, either directly from Perth or from another location during your travels around Western Australia.

There are many options for exploring WA and if you want to see it all, a combination of driving and air would be best.

Contact us to help you put together your tailor-made Western Australia itinerary.






Sydney to the Hunter Valley Wine Region by Rail

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Vicki Tester


If you are planning a holiday to Australia and fancy visiting the Hunter Valley but are not keen on self drive, then why not include a rail trip in your itinerary?

You can travel to the Hunter Valley, which takes about three hours by express train, from Sydney Central Station. Along the way you will only experience seven stops. The modern trains are very comfortable and feature an on board café and toilets. Large windows offer views of the stunning scenery throughout your journey.

The package would include:

  • Return train tickets from Sydney’s Central Railway Station to Singleton Station
  • Meet and Greet transfers to and from Singleton Railway Station via private Mercedes
  • Two nights’ accommodation in a choice of guestrooms and cottages at the Hunter Valley Resort.
  • Onsite Vineyard Tour followed by a private tasting with a Cellarmaster
  • Hunter Wine Theatre experience showing the onsite winery in action followed by wine tasting
  • Accommodation, breakfast, and wine activities are included in the package.

Picture courtesy of Hunter Valley Resort

Hunter Valley Resort is a superb country inn or lodge with 35 rooms and cottages surrounded by 70 acres of countryside and 50 year old shiraz vineyards.

Whilst there see the Hunter Wine Theatre Experience, explore and enjoy the facilities in the resort, visit the Brewery, souvenir shops, go bike riding, visit local wineries and a cheese factory, try a segway, horse riding, enjoy a relaxing massage in the Hunter Valley Heaven Massage Centre, take a carriage ride, play tennis, or go swimming – there really is something for everyone!


Picture courtesy of Hunter Valley Resort

Picture courtesy of Hunter Valley Resort

Picture courtesy of Hunter Valley Resort

Picture courtesy of Hunter Valley Resort

Picture courtesy of Hunter Valley Resort

Experiencing Hobart, Tasmania – 2 – Further Afield

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Vicki Tester


Hobart, Tasmania 2 – by Peter Ellis


So having had a couple of days to explore the City of Hobart and now with your hire car in hand then consider the following destination. To ensure you have seen a Tasmanian Devil I would strongly recommend that visit the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary where they are working hard to ensure these much maligned creatures have a future – along with many other orphaned or damaged wild animals. The Devils numbers are down by 90% due to a virus that has spread through them but the good news is that scientists have found a vaccine that is seems effective and there is also evidence that the remaining wild animals have built their own immunity.

Tasmanian Devil, Hobart, Tasmania

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Kangaroo, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis








You will have a chance to see most of the other indigenous Tasmanian wildlife and even feed the kangaroo who are very friendly. A short drive from here brings you to Richmond which truly has a feel of being back in the UK. The Gaol here was built in the 1820s to provide slave labour for the booming farming community. It is still almost intact and well worth a visit.

For another full day out, drive down to the World Heritage site of Port Arthur, the destination of many of the convicts from Great Britain. Built as a modern and ground breaking penal institute it became a town in its own rights. Many of the buildings are ruins while others have been restored to their former glory – particularly the homes of the officers. There is much to see and do here so plan to be there early. Also ensure you join the cruise of the Bay taking you past Point Puer Boys Prison (for convict aged below 17) and the Island of the Dead. The staff play there parts convincingly and the exhibits are well thought through and very hands on. For the brave there is ghost tour in the evening. Do NOT get left in the isolation cell – not a chink of light anywhere and pass through 4 doors to get there.

One evening when the weather is clear, drive to the top of Wellington Mountain for spectacular views over the city and harbour.

Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis


Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis


Experiencing Hobart, Tasmania – 1

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Vicki Tester


Hobart, Tasmania with Peter Ellis

Having just got back from my holiday in Victoria and Tasmania, I thought that I would share some of my experiences and suggested activities while in Hobart. Coming in from the airport has you driving over an iconic bridge giving you a good glimpse of the city. We stayed in an apartment on one of the piers in the harbour, which worked very well – views of the ferry going across to the Mona Museum, plenty of restaurants on the piers and waterfront, and a well appointed flat.

We did not bother with a car for the first couple of days as Hobart is an easy walking city. The first place I would recommend is Mawson’s Huts Replica Museum, located right in the harbour. Not large (they are actual size huts) they are full of information of the Antarctic Expeditions that set sail from Hobart through the 20th. Century. Just a few yards from here is the Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery which is well worth exploring and then sitting in the courtyard with an excellent cup of coffee.  We failed to go the Mona Museum, as we ran out of time but would definitely suggest catching the ferry to see what is a controversial spot in Tasmania.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis













There are a number of food places to tempt you – along the waterfront and Salamanca Street nearby, in fact coffee houses and restaurants abound in the city.

If you would like some more information on Hobart and what to see or do then please give s a call on 01323 446550 or email info@experienceholidays.co.uk  You could also take a look at one of our visit Australia suggested itineraries in Tasmania, Hobart click here

More on what to do just outside of the capital next week.

Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

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