Australia in a Campervan – our Guide to Brisbane

Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland is considered the most relaxed capital city in Australia. But don’t assume that relaxed means boring. Brisbane doesn’t feel the need to gloat about its attractions, because it’s just part of the lifestyle.

Brisbane Arial

Brisbane is located on the east coast of Australia, approximately 1000 kilometres north of Sydney, a quick 1.5hr flight or a few days’ drive in your campervan or motorhome depending on how much you want to stop and see on the way. With temperatures ranging between 21-30oC  in Summer, Brisbane can be quite humid, although relief from the humidity is provided by intermittent summer storms which also make spectacular viewing. In summer take an umbrella wherever you go. Storms are fast and furious and sometimes strike with little warning. I’m not kidding when I say it can be both sunny and raining at the same time! Winter temperatures sit within the ranges of 10-21oC and it’s the driest part of the year.

South Bank

Brisbane’s balmy climate and river frontage has seen a surge of new restaurants and activities in the city. Southbank Parklands runs alongside the Brisbane River and offers prime views of the city. Its many restaurants, boutique bars, cinemas, beautiful green parkland and picnic areas make it an urban oasis in the heart of the city. Adjacent to Southbank is Brisbane’s cultural precinct. Here you will find the Queensland Performing Arts Complex, Queensland Museum, Sciencentre, Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland Theatre Company, Gallery of Modern Art and the State Library. If you love all things cultural – the ballet, the opera, theatre, and music, you are in the right place here.

Brisbane Kangaroo Point lookout

The Kangaroo Point Cliffs offer a prime view of Brisbane city which is unbeatable. From here you can view the city in all its glory stretching from South Bank to the Story Bridge. Return at night to see a spectacular view of the city skyline. The Ernst & Young building with its spiderweb design is a particular highlight.  But the view isn’t the only activity at the Kangaroo Point Cliffs; you can climb those orange-coloured cliffs day and night, visit Riverlife and paddle down the river in a kayak, climb the Story Bridge (situated above the worlds shortest highway) for another amazing view of the city, or abseil down it.  I should warn you though, the locals are quite a sporty bunch so expect a lot of runners, walkers and cyclists when you wander around. Some advice: keep to the left.

Brisbane, known as the River City, definitely lives up to its name. During the lunch hour you will find city workers spilling from restaurants and pubs along the river. Follow their lead and head into one of the many restaurants that line the river. Eagle Street Pier and Riverside offer a number of restaurants view great views of the city. Venture further into the heart of the CBD and you will find the Queen Street Mall, Brisbane’s main shopping precinct. Explore the surrounding streets and you will find the most magnificent Moreton Bay Fig ever seen, a 100 year old cathedral, city botanic gardens, the Anzac war memorial and public art scattered around the city.

Brisbane has a number of transport options to get you out and about. Trains and Buses are the most used, servicing a large area of the city and its extension into suburbia. Ferries and CityCats glide up and down the Brisbane River offering a relaxing journey between destinations. There are a few free transport options – City Hopper Ferries, City Circle and Spring Hill bus loop. They have a reliable timetable but are limited to the inner city area.

New Zealand – Our Guide to the Best Treks in New Zealand

New Zealand is famous for its spectacular natural scenery and what’s more, it’s carefully protected. It’s not surprising that numerous movies have been filmed here. So if you’d like to go hiking in a movie set … please read on for our five favourite walks in New Zealand.

emerald lakes, tongariro crossing hike

Lake Tongariro

ABEL TASMAN COAST TRACK

Get going on a three- to five-day tour (51 km/32 m) on the coastal track of the Abel Tasman National Park. Walk like Robinson Crusoe along unspoilt beaches bordered by lush vegetation, passing by lagoons of turquoise water, all part of what you will experience on this coastal hike. If you’re tempted by a taste of heaven, go right ahead, the Abel Tasman Coast Track is suitable in any season.

The accommodation available along the path works on a reservation system: huts and camping sites must be booked beforehand throughout the year. However, day walks are free and to get an idea you can go for the 2-3 hour stroll from Tonga Bay to Bark Bay, which is stunning.

 2. Abel Tasman Coast Track

Abel Tasman Coast Track

TONGARIRRO ALPINE CROSSING

This hike is composed of 18 km throughout volcanic landscapes, alpine vegetation and the forests of  Tongariro National Park. Rated as “the best one-day hike in New-Zealand”, the Alpine crossing passes through a breathtaking volcanic landscape – active caldera, smoking chimneys and beautiful coloured lakes.

Although theoretically doable in one day, this exhausting trek should not be taken lightly. The weather can change in suddenly so equip yourself carefully. If you aren’t at your best physical condition, take two days to do the trek and overnight at Ketathi refuge. The path is easy to reach from Mangatepopo Road close to the SH47 and Ketetahi Rd close to the SH46. Shuttles stop at both ends of the route. However you will need to book first and be ready to catch the bus to go back, because they don’t wait if you’re late.

MILFORD TRACK

This is a five-day trek (5 km/33m) through the rainforest and the hills of Milford Sound. This famous walk is generally considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world. During the high season for hikes (end of October to end of April) the number of walkers is limited and you are required to book. You also must follow a specific 4-day itinerary. The accommodation is in huts and camping is not permitted. You can go alone or with a guide. Contact the Department Of Conservation of Te Anau or book online at www.doc.govt.nz.

Cruise ship in Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, New Zeala

Milford Sound

QUEEN CHARLOTTE TRACK

You will need three to five days (71km/44m) to explore the amazing  Marlborough Sounds. This famous path from the historical Ship Cove at Anakiwa passes through private land and Conservation Areas, revealing a stunning coastal landscape. It is easily doable for those of average physical fitness. It’s possible to split the trek up by taking water taxis, or you can also walk the whole track (3 to 5 days), or combine walking, kayaking or cycling. The trek is serviced by numerous travel agencies and boat services, allowing you to start or finish your journey wherever you want on foot, cycling or kayaking.

Accommodation is a few hours’  walk away, but boats can carry your luggage along the path.

4. Marlborough Sounds

Marlborough Sounds

RAKIURA TRACK

Three days are needed to walk the Rakiura Track (37km/23m). It’s not a challenging walk, it’s doable all year round and the start of the walk is well indicated from Oban. It’s a unique opportunity to see several native birds, as well as beautiful beaches and native fauna. You will need to be of reasonable physical fitness but that’s all.

The landscape is spectacular and it’s one of the famous Great Walks, so it’s necessary to book the huts or camping sites in any season. Do this online at www.doc.govt.nz, or at the DOC office of the Rakiura National Park at Stewart Island.

Australia in a Campervan – Our Guide to Cruising South Australia

Obviously, Australia can’t be seen in one day. Planning a trip through Australia means making a lot of choices. No need to panic, we can help you with making these choices and get you familiarised with the world Down Under.

In this blog post we’ve included some ideas for a round trip through South Australia. Drive your campervan along the beautiful wine valleys up to Mount Gambier.

Barossa Valley

Wine Tasting
A superb place to wake up in your own motorhome and enjoy Port Augusta to the fullest is Hancock Lookout. From here, you will start your self-drive holiday with panoramic scenic views that you will find driving towards the Barossa Valley.

The Barossa Wine Valley, with Jacobs Creek, is one of the most famous wine growing regions in Australia. The vineyards are extensive, so make sure you stop by to taste a couple of these delicious free wines, just to make sure you have tasted the best ones!

Biking and cruising
Once you have found your favourite wine it’s time to hit the road and drive further through the Adelaide Hills, which is also a popular bike route. It’s an ideal setting to imagine yourself in a dream world where you’re cruising a classic convertible, wearing outsized sunglasses. But a campervan will do just fine to soak up the beautiful views of the forested slopes and magnificent scenery here.

Adelaide

City rush and city hiking
And all of sudden, deep in the valley, there’s Adelaide. With a million residents it’s quite a busy city, but with its relaxing parks it still offers a lot of green space. If you want to get away from the city rush, Glenelg is a charming coastal township, a suburb of Adelaide set on the ocean. Here you can take a walk along the beach, sink in the soft sand and contemplate eternity.

Fleurieu

Penguins at Granite Island
From Adelaide drive your campervan further south towards Fleurieu Peninsula and stop at Waitpinga beach, the aboriginal name for Windy Beach¸ and yes as the name suggests, it’s quite windy here. Next stop: Victor Harbor, known for Granite Island, this island was once part of the mainland but is now connected with a causeway. You can cross the causeway on foot or a by a horse-pulled tram. At dawn you can indulge in some penguins spotting at Granite Island.

Mount Gambier
The last stop will be Mount Gambier, but first visit Umpherston sinkhole, once a cave formed through dissolution of the limestone. The sinkhole is shaped as a hole since the top of the camber collapsed downwards. Now it is an ideal location for a botanic garden. Mount Gambier is known for its Blue Lake, a lake formed by a volcanic crater. Every year in November, the lake changes from its grey colour to a clear blue tint for a couple of days. Later during the day check out Caves Gardens, a waterfall right in the centre that falls down into the underground limestone caves.

Convinced? Now book your self-drive holiday yourself!

Pet friendly Holidays with Salamanda Travel

Can we bring our dog along on our campervan or motorhome holiday?

Cocker Spaniel on beach

We get quite a few enquiries from customers  looking for campervan and motorhome hire companies that allow pets. Especially lately, a number of customers have been very relieved to have finally discovered Salamanda Travel because we offer campervan hire that allows your dog to travel with you on your self-drive holiday.

So it seemed that a blog post on the subject was called for to help clear up any questions around pet friendly holidays.

The companies that allow a dog to travel in the vehicle with their owners are Star RV, Apollo and Cheapa Campa. There is a fee – Apollo and Cheapa Campa charge $200 and Star RV charge $300 per pet, per hire.

small pug dog on car seat

Small and medium-sized dogs are permitted to travel with their owners in their motorhomes and campers. Dogs up to a “medium-sized” dog, which would probably cover most family pets, are permitted.

Generally, our suppliers advise that for 2 adults plus a small to medium dog a 4 berth vehicle is the minimum size. If your dog is a very small breed, they may permit 2 adults plus a four legged friend to travel in a Hitop or similar vehicle, however all such requests are considered on a case-by-case basis. As a general rule we recommend booking a 4 berth or even a 6 berth motorhome if travelling with your family dog.

small dog on leash with man

At Salamanda Travel we are happy to guide you through the process and discuss your individual requirements with regard to travelling with your pet dog. We know that many of our customers would much prefer to have their furry friend with them on their holiday rather than leave them at home on their own to be fed by a neighbour or go into a boarding kennel.

If you have any questions or to would like to make a booking for a campervan holiday plus pet, please call us or send us an email.