Thursday, 9 March 2017

Five of the best places to Instagram autumn in Australia

Mt Tomah in the Blue Mountains' Botanic Garden puts on a spectacular autumn display each year. Image: Supplied

Take a swathe of perennials, a few arches of trees ablaze in copper and orange tones and throw in a few perfectly placed park benches and you have yourself a happy place. After a stroll through the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mt Tomah, you can gaze across the valley, which has pockets of vivid copper and red foliage. The hatted Tomah Gardens Restaurant is a great place to enjoy a kaleidoscope of autumn colours and enjoy all the region has to offer. Time your visit to coincide with the annual Leura Harvest festival. Click here for some Insta inspo. 
Fall's gold: Canberra turns on a riot of red, gold and yellow during autumn.

Autumn in Canberra is every bit as stunning as it looks. The beauty of doing some leaf-spotting in the national capital is that it's so easy to get amongst it. The bike lanes in Canberra are one of the best things about the city and the vast parks, nature strips and tree-lined streets make it one of the best locations to peep at #leafporn.  Book in to a Mushrooms and Minibeasts Family Walk at Canberra's Arboretum in the April school holidays, which includes a hike through the Himalayan cedar forest. See Visit Canberra for inspiration.
Treehuggers unite at Centennial Park in the centre of Sydney. Image: Chris Gleisner

The woodlands of Centennial Park in the heart of Sydney, NSW, can be easily covered on foot, skates or pushbike. Picking one must-see spot is a challenge but circumnavigate the park and you are sure to satisfy your urge for some seasonal leaf spotting. Strolling around this park is such a peaceful way to celebrate the season and bid farewell to summer. Make the most of the great outdoors in the milder weather and book in an outdoor movie at Moonlight. BYO blanket.
Moss Vale Garden is one of the jewels in the Southern Highlands' crown. Image: Destination NSW

Walk around the historic township of Moss Vale before veering off the path and finding your very own Highland hideaway. Leighton Gardens are situated in the heart of town and perfectly situated for family picnics. The best fall foliage happens at the start of the season. Visit Southern Highland Food and Wine Clusters for inspiration. One for the calendar is the Festival of the Roast Autumn Foodie Field Day at The Loch, Berrima

Saturday, 4 March 2017

A few of my favourite island getaways

Picture this: you are supine on a banana lounge, sifting sand through your sweetheart’s toes, studying cotton-wool clouds that appear to have been Velcro-ed onto the sky.  You have just slurped down a chilled mojito from the beach bar and are mustering up the energy to walk over the crystalline sand and slip into the turquoise sea. Before you can say “mi wantem bia”  (“I’d like a beer”) I give you a few of my favourite island getaways.

InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa. Image: Justin Mott (Mott Visuals).

Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa 
Chances are you won’t venture far if you stay at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa. The resort is all about indulgence. Soak up the sun on a day bed by the infinity pool, sip cocktails as the sun slips over the Pacific in the uber-cool KamaLounge  or just mosey over to Natadola Beach to continue your schedule of lazing the day away. Located on Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu, the resort is about 40 minutes’ drive from the airport.  Visit

The lobby of Anantara Layan Phuket.    Image: Supplied
Anantara's The Residences, Phuket
Located along Phuket's stunning sunset coast, The Residences at Anantara's Phuket Layan resort overlooks breathtaking Layan Beach. The boutique collection of 15 spacious private pool residences is next level: perched on the side of a jungle-clad hill with panoramic views of the Andaman Sea, The Residences will make you want to bask in barefoot luxury for the remainder of your days. It's the ultimate rock-star hideaway where you can bring the entire entourage and skinny dip in your private plunge pool away from the paps.

Pangkor Laut Resort in Malaysia is paradise on legs. Image: @carlagrossetti
Pangkor Laut Resort
White-sand beaches, clear greeny-blue seas and villas with skinny legs standing knee-deep in the sea makes this feel like the poshest piece of paradise. Intimate, tranquil and elegant all at once the island is a fixture on the A-lister circuit. Rimmed by lush vegetation, the island is renowned for its abundant birdlife and electric sunsets. Cue couples canoodling in the sand, friends sharing cold beers by the bar and the more active doing laps of the island in a kayak. The late and great Italian tenor Pavarotti declared Pangkor Laut paradise. Expect opera on the playlist.

The Champagne Pools on Fraser Island are one of many reasons to make a beeline for this island.
Kingfisher Bay Resort, Fraser Island
The beaches on this, the world’s largest sand island are, as expected, pristine. But it’s the translucent blue of the freshwater lakes and craggy cliffs at Indian Head that are the real show-stoppers. By respecting their surrounds, the eco resort’s staff really go the extra kilometre in inspiring guests to reduce their environmental footprint, too.  

Iririki Island Resort has recently undergone extensive refurbishment.    
Iririki Island Resort, Vanuatu
Staff at Iririki Resort start working their charm the minute you are spat off the ferry from Port Vila. A highlight of staying at the resort is that it stays true to that laidback South Pacific vibe. At Iririki, expect your day to go something like this: wake up, enjoy coffee and breakfast on the verandah at Micheners, meander down the palm-fringed path to the beach, swim, kayak, have lunch, enjoy a siesta, flick through a book, enjoy a cocktail and kava by the pool, have dinner, go to bed. Iririki offers an annual special:  get a resort credit of $200 with any room booking of 5+ nights.