Australia in a Campervan – Our Guide to Melbourne

Melbourne considers itself a melting pot of fashion, food, sport and culture. There’s no denying it, Melbourne is a city which caters to a wide range of tastes. It’s also a city full of attractions and activities at all times of the day or night, all year round.

Sport

Melbourne is a mecca for sport in Australia. The city of Melbourne hosts some of the largest sporting events in Australia.  The calendar year kicks off with The Australian Open, the only Grand Slam tennis event in Australia.

Or do you have the need for speed? Well, March sees  the city fringe taken over by Formula 1.

March also marks the start of the Australian Football League (AFL) season. With 10 teams in greater Melbourne, you will never be short of a game to watch. If you are in Melbourne on April 25, try and get a ticket to the Anzac Day Test between Collingwood and Essendon. It’s the largest match (excluding the September Grand Final) of the year.  Even if you know nothing about AFL, the venue, the Melbourne Cricket Ground,  holds 100,018 spectators; this is a game to attend for its atmosphere, if for nothing else. Join the locals and grab a meat pie, a scarf from your home team, and get loud

The Melbourne Cricket Ground is also home to the National Sport Museum. It holds a number of cricketing, AFL, horse racing and Olympic memorabilia.

There’s also the National Rugby League (NRL) team, the Melbourne Storm, and Australian Rugby Union (ARU) team, the Melbourne Rebels during the autumn/ winter months (March to August).

Late September marks the start of the Spring Racing Carnival (horse racing); 114 race meetings exceeding $40 million in prize money including the world famous Melbourne Cup, which is Australia’s premier horse race that is known because it “stops a nation”.  Workplaces and homes and clubs everywhere around the nation stop to watch this one race.

Soccer/football starts in October with both the Melbourne Heart and Melbourne Victory attempting to win the championship.

Then there is the cricket. In December the Boxing day test match held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is an Australian icon with capacity crowds attending each year. On December 26, The Australian Test Cricket Team play an opposing national team who is touring that summer. Every 4 years this match forms a part of the all-important Ashes series (Australia vs. England).

Melbourne Cricket Ground

Culture

Art is not just confined to art galleries, and you will find it all over Melbourne. In the streets, the parks, the laneways – you can’t escape it even if you wanted to. The laneways of Melbourne are filled with outdoor artistic expressions using stencils, paste-ups and murals. Some locations for these are Hosier and Rutledge Lane (near Federation square), Union Lane off Bourke Street Mall and Flinders Lane and Cocker Alley (Bansky art – Little Diver). Keep a look out because there is always something new.

There are also a number of traditional galleries you can visit. The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV Australia) features Indigenous works, ancient, modern and fine art.  The Melbourne Museum also offers aboriginal art and explores nature, culture and history in Victoria.  It features a gallery just for children (aged 3-8) along with other education programs tailored from kindergarten to grade 12. If you prefer something more modern, visit the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art at Southbank. It’s a spectacular building filled with spectacular work.

Melbourne Graffiti

Melbourne hosts a number of festivals throughout the year. The more popular ones include the Melbourne Writers’ Festival which runs from late August. It’s a celebration for writers, thinkers and readers and offers entertaining debates, film screenings, book launches and workshops from international and local guests. The Melbourne International Comedy Festival runs late March to mid April and hosts some of the hottest international and Australian comedic talent.

Melbourne is also home to the Australian Ballet which showcases both classical and contemporary pieces. Its unique style of dance is influenced by the ballet staff, guest dancers teachers and choreographers from around the world.

Adventure & fun

After you have had your fill of food, sport and culture, it’s time to get active. The Eureka Skydeck  offers an unforgettable panorama of the city both day and night from 88 floors (300metres) above the ground. Try ‘the edge’ a glass cube which slide out from the side of the building so you can view the city…between your feet.  Love the height? Visit Hard Rock Climbing. They are 37 climbing walls with a pinnacle of 17metres located right in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD. If you prefer to be closer to the ground, you can visit Glow in the dark minigolf; It’s 18 holes of glow in the dark fun. The Kingswood Ute hole is a favourite! If you want to see some Australian Fauna up close, then find your way to the Melbourne Zoo. They have Kangaroos, wombats and platypus along with Tigers, Orang-utans, Zebra, Elephants, etc. For more Australian wildlife, Koalas, Echidnas, Emu, Echidna’s etc, you will need to visit the Healesville Sanctuary.  St Kilda, Luna park and beach.

Melbourne  Central Tower

Shopping

You are bound to find just about anything in Melbourne. From contemporary to classic. The Bourke Street Mall and its surrounding streets offer a large selection of shops.  The Melbourne GPO  building houses boutiques from Australian and International designers within a gorgeous neo-renaissance style building. Melbourne Central is the largest shopping centre in the Melbourne CBD; shopaholics will love the choices available from 300 stores. Harbour Town at Docklands specialises in outlet shopping and specialty stores in docklands. Bridge Road at Richmond is lined with outline stores of your favourite stores with a number of quirky shops thrown in for good measure. One of the renowned fashion precincts is Chapel Street – arty, vintage, contemporary, classic, stylish; you will find everything  fashionable you need on this street and it surrounds (Commercial road & Greville street). You can catch a free ‘Fashion’ bus from Federation Square to Chadstone, a shopping centre with 530 stores! Chadstone is known as the Fashion Capital but also contains cinemas, ten pin bowling and food.

Melbourne_yarra_twilight

Food

Speaking of food, Melbourne is a rich tapestry of cultural delights.  There are a number of pockets around the CBD that specialise in ethnic food. The truth is, you don’t need a list of places to eat as you will find something that catches your eye as you wander the streets. Feel like Italian? Head to Lygon street. Want some Greek?  Go to the corner of Russell and Lonsdale Street. Craving asian? Stroll on over to Chinatown.  But here are some anyway. Chin Chin is one of the few places where  walk-ins are preferred , they are open every day of the year except Christmas day and serve south east asian cuisine. Vue De Monde  offers classical fine dining from the 55th level of the Railto Building. it’s food is impeccible as is it’s view.  Little Cupcakes as the name suggests sells little cupcakes, but also normal sized along with something to wash them down with. That is all. Super cute and super tasty, get in early or you’ll be left with the leftovers. If you want something cosy and informal, try Cafe Vue. It’s a french inspired bistro with beautiful deco and delicious meals. Love meat? Visit Rockpool. Overlooking the Yarra River, the view and the food are impeccable.

 

Australia in a Campervan – Our Guide to Festivals in Australia

Music gathers people, and that is one of the main reasons we love festivals. Festivals are a great place to meet up with like-minded individuals from around the country and the world. There are many festivals of all kinds, sizes and music and lifestyle directions in Australia year-round, so there will always be something to suit you.

This isn’t your normal “Top Ten” list with the best festivals held in Australia, simply because there are too many festivals in too many places. So we have ordered them into categories.

Big Day Out Sydney

Modern Sounds
If you are looking for a lot of young people, beer, sun and current popular artists, it won’t be hard to find a festival that suits you.

Some festivals in Australia are held in different places at the same time, such as the Big Day Out and Stereosonic, which are good examples of this kind of national festival.

Big Day Out is held in January simultaneously in Sydney, the Gold Coast, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth. The line-up features some of Australia’s best live rock bands as well as top international artists. The headline acts for 2014 are Snoop Dogg and Major Lazer.

Stereosonic focuses on House and Techno sounds and is held in December in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. Here you’ll find some of the biggest DJ’s from all around the world, especially from Great Britain and The Netherlands, like Armin van Buren and Calvin Harris. Talking about Dutch music, one of the biggest festivals in The Netherlands has also come to Australia since 2009. Defqon 1, founded by the Dutch powerhouse Q-Dance is one of the biggest festivals of its kind featuring House and Hardstyle music and it grows in size every year.

Some other festivals of popular current music that are worth considering are:

  • Field Day – Sydney Festival (January)
  • Homebake (December)
  • Bass in the Grass, Darwin (May)
  • Soundwave in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth (February).

Jazz, Blues and Classical
If those hard bass sounds aren’t really your thing, try one of the Jazz and/or Blues festivals. Combine some of the best nature in Australia with delightful music and enjoy a day out with a music adventure. Probably the best known of its kind is the Melbourne International Jazz Festival in June. With more than 300 Australian and international musicians and a rich program with club gigs, film screenings, master classes and evening sound walks, this is a festival for families, youth and even seniors.

The Byron Bay Bluefest is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. That means 2014’s Eastern Weekend will be very special this year at Tyagarah Tee Tree Farm with over 200 performances on 7 stages. The Bluefest welcomes international artists like Jack  Johnson, John Mayer, Passenger and Dave Matthews Band.

For Opera you should definitely visit ‘Opera in the Paddock’ and ‘Opera in the Vineyards’. These festivals are organised respectively in March and October and bring the best of opera to stunning outdoor locations so you can bask in world class music while enjoying some great scenery.

Womad Adelaide

Folk and Country
Experience country music like it should be. With a number of festivals organised year round in Australia we’re quite sure you’ll find what you’re looking for.

The Gympie Muster is held over 4 action-packed days and nights in Queensland’s most beautiful and normally peaceful National State Parks: Amamoor Creek State. Here you’ll find the true spirit of Country in Australia during the end of August each year.

This year the Tamworth Country Music Festival will be opened by two of Australian superstars in Country Music, namely Adam Harvey and Troy Cassar-Daley, that and lots of other performances makes the 42nd Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth in January 2014 one that absolutely cannot be missed.

A great festival for the whole family is National Folk Festival in Canberra, hundreds of the world’s best musicians are showing their best music tracks during this five-day festival in March and April.

WOMAD
WOMADelaide is the Worldof Music, Arts and Dance, founded by musician Peter Gabriel in 1982. Over the last two decades it has grown into one of the biggest outdoor festivals in Australia and is held over four days in Adelaide. Participants can experience world class music performances as well as workshops, cooking programs and dancers.

A popular way to enjoy festivals is in a motorhome. Most festivals offer powered sites and a camper with your own bed, kitchen facilities and even shower and toilet are a very comfortable way to enjoy a stay at a festival campground. But do make sure you book early, because we get a lot of people booking well in advance to secure their campervan for a festival.

Still haven’t found what you’re looking for? Try the Australia Tourism website.

Amazing USA Motorhome Relocation Special

We’d like to let you in on a fantastic deal on offer on an RV hire in the USA that is currently available for pickups in April, May and June 2014 with our supplier in the USA – Apollo Motorhomes.

Have you ever dreamed of taking a road trip across the USA in your own motorhome? Here is your big chance to do it for an amazing low price!

San_Francisco_at_Sunset

If you are able to take advantage of this fantastic relocation special, it’s a very economical way to travel through a part of the USA that takes in regions in what is called the “American Heartland”, also known as the American Midwest, on a journey that will take you from Iowa to the west, to either Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles or San Francisco.

Garden_of_the_Gods Colorado

And you will be driving a brand new vehicle across some stunning country and ending up in any one of four desirable destinations.

The pickup location for these relocations is Forest City, Iowa, which is in the north of the state of Iowa. The closest airport is Mason City, Iowa, or the international airport of St Paul, Minnesota.

Pickup dates are possible within any one of the following pickup periods:

  • 31 March – 5 April 2014
  • 5 May – 9 May 2014
  • 2 June – 6 June 2014

The drop-off location can be any one of four possibilities – it’s your choice:

  • San Francisco
  • Denver
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles

The pickup date ranges and the drop-off locations are fixed.  You will be taking a brand new vehicle to one of Star RV/Apollo’s USA branch offices.

Any one of these relocations would be an amazing road trip. The maximum rental period is 18 nights, which is heaps of time to get to any of these locations and take in the sights and experience some adventures along the way.

Bison_at_Niobrara_Valley_Preserve Nebraska

If you plan on choosing the Denver drop-off, travel south from Forest City through the state of Iowa past the city of Des Moines and then via Nebraska to Colorado, taking in the wide open landscapes in Nebraska on the way – these landscapes are the stuff of westerns and American legends. Colorado is also a state with dramatic landscapes and Denver itself has plenty to offer.

Front Range Peaks near Denver Colorado

If you plan on dropping off in Las Vegas, your journey will be about twice as far as that of the Denver drop-off. You can take the same route as the Denver option, continuing through the beautiful state of Colorado past Denver, crossing through the state of Utah with its dramatic landscapes and wide open spaces, and then through the northern corner of Arizona and into Nevada, to Las Vegas, the city that is an oasis in the desert that everyone knows for its colourful nightlife.

WelcomeToVegas

Don’t forget to include a side trip to the iconic Grand Canyon on your trip to Las Vegas or Los Angeles.

Grand canyon_panorama

If you decide to take one of the vehicles to San Francisco, your route, depending on which way you choose to go, will be an amazing cross-country journey taking you right across the state of Nebraska from east to west, into the northern part of the state of Utah, through amazing Nevada and then onto the hills of California, to Sacramento, the capital of California.

Yosemite NP California

Why not check out the world-famous Yosemite National Park before continuing on to your final destination, the city that everyone has heard of with its hills, its beautiful architecture, and its Bay lifestyle – San Francisco!

San_Francisco_Cable_Car_MC

If you’d rather travel across the United States and end your journey in Los Angeles with its international airport, you could take the same route as to Las Vegas, (and even stop off there and Denver too) then continue into the southern part of California and on to your final destination, Los Angeles  ̶   home of Hollywood, the big film studios, celebrity spotting, and the amazing feeling of recognising places and names in real life that you know from the screen.

Hollywood-sign

So at Salamanda Travel we say: What are you waiting for?

This is the perfect opportunity to take a road trip across the USA that you will remember for ever, for just US$25 per night for April and May pick-ups, and US$40 per night for June pick-ups. There are lots of free inclusions to sweeten the deal too, such as:

  • 2500 miles
  • 2 free bedding kits
  • one-way fee is waived
  • kitchen kit
  • GPS for just US$50 for the whole rental.

We don’t think this will last long. Book online here.