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Top birding spots in Australia: where to go and when

Heading out to discover alluring natural settings drives many of us into wilderness areas – and spotting its animated birdlife adds to the adventure. Whether you're a 'birder' or simply enjoy nature and wildlife viewing, the various bird families and endemic species of Australia make this country a bird watcher's paradise. 

Fellow birders probably know about the popular areas at the Daintree Rainforest, Atherton Tablelands and the Iron Ranges of Far North Queensland. We thought to expand your birding 'life list' to regions you may not have considered, whilst giving you the chance to actively explore the beauty of the land Down Under. 

This guide showcases noteworthy birdwatching hotspots across Australia and how to best see them. Get ready to add these to your checklist!

Kakadu National Park & Nitmiluk National Park – Northern Territory

What makes it great for birding?
Its habitat allow good transition zones for biodiversity – from grasslands to the billabong and tropical forests. There are a number of remote microhabitats throughout the area which some birds, like the White-throated Grasswren, are restricted to and found nowhere else. Other species, like the Gouldian Finch, are nomadic throughout their range making it extra special when you do find them. However, it can be hard to predict where they will be as they follow the seeding grasses they feed on.

Keep your ears peeled for the raucous calls of Blue-winged Kookaburras |  <i>Holly Van De Beek</i> Kakadu is a wonderful area for birdwatchers |  <i>Holly Van De Beek</i>Masked Finch, Kakadu National Park |  <i>Nicolas Cary</i> Sandstone Shrikethrush, Kakadu National Park

Target species: Chestnut-backed Buttonquail, Chestnut-quilled Rock-Pigeon, Northern Rosella, Hooded Parrot, Rainbow Pitta, Great Bowerbird, Black-tailed Treecreeper, White-throated Grasswren, Green-backed Gerygone, Rufous-banded Honeyeater, Sandstone Shrike-Thrush, Silver-backed Butcherbird, Northern Fantail, Paperbark Flycatcher, Buff-sided Robin, Masked Finch, Gouldian Finch, Yellow-rumped Finch and Crimson Finch.

Best season and getting there: The best time of year to go is between May and September. A number of trips in the Top End guide you in true wilderness for a chance to see these wonderful species. Our Kakadu Explorer, Jatbula Trail, Katherine River Canoeing and Kakadu Stone Country Adventure offer beautiful wildlife experiences in NT's tropical paradise.

Don't forget to look up when walking through Kakadu National Park |  <i>Holly Van De Beek</i>Kakadu is home to a huge range of birds including the Forest Kingfisher |  <i>Rhys Clarke</i> Bird life is abundant in Kakadu |  <i>Holly Van De Beek</i> Spot plenty of birdlife perching on tree branches |  <i>Holly Van De Beek</i>

Bonus stop: Keep an eye out or make a quick pit-stop in Pine Creek to see the Hooded Parrots – it's the best spot to see these birds, who are unlikely to be seen in the national park itself.

Bibbulmun Track & Margaret River Region – Western Australia

What makes it great for birding?
Coastal Heath, ancient Karri forest, grasslands and rocky outcroppings make for interesting landscapes and habitats to explore. There have been some great conservation efforts to the important habitats in this region, such as in Albany, which is one of the only places to find the Western Bristlebird. In addition to being a great birding region, you can combine your love of nature with great food and outstanding wine to make a great day of birdwatching even better.

Target species: Baudin’s Black Cockatoo, Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo, Western Corella, Red-capped Parrot, Regent Parrot, Western Rosella, Western Bristlebird, Rufous Treecreeper, Red-winged Fairywren, Western Thornbill, Western Gerygone, Gilbert’s Honeyeater, Western Spinebill, Western Wattlebird, White-breasted Robin and Red-eared Firetail.

Australian Shelduck, Cape Leeuwin WA |  <i>Nicolas Cary</i>

Best season and getting there: You can see most of the above-listed birds year-round, but springtime (September to October) will provide a chance to see courtships in action. Between September and May, the majority of the flowering trees will be blooming which provides lots of food for the birds making them easier to find.

Some of the trips for this region that offer a chance to see these great species are the Bibbulmun Track Albany to Denmark, Bibbulmun Track Walpole to Denmark, Cape to Cape and Bibbulmun in Luxury, Cape to Cape in Luxury and Munda Biddi Cycling Adventure.

Bonus stop: While in the region, don’t forget to take some time to explore Kings Park in Perth or take the ferry to Rottnest Island for a chance to see extra birdlife.


What makes it great for birding?
The isolation of Tasmania has meant that several species have evolved separately from their mainland counterparts into separate species with eccentric colourations and behaviours. Plus, the many pristine and wild areas of the Apple Isle provides plenty of ways to have an adventure while birdwatching, whether it’s rafting, cycling, or trekking.

While you can see most of these species throughout the region, some species have very restricted habitats, like that of the Forty-spotted Pardalote which is restricted to Bruny Island and Maria Island.

The birdlife on Bruny Island include numerous Shearwaters and Petrels

One of the biggest conservation efforts for birds in Australia is the Orange-bellied Parrot which breeds down in Tasmania where loss of habitat is its biggest threats. Birdwatching in this area can help with its conservation for reporting numbers and distribution, as well as helping local economies understand the importance of eco-tourism.  

Target species: Tasmanian Native-hen, Green Rosella, Orange-bellied Parrot, Tasmanian Thornbill, Tasmanian Scrubwren, Scrubtit, Forty-spotted Pardalote, Yellow-throated Honeyeater, Strong-billed Honeyeater, Yellow Wattlebird, Black Currawong, Forest Raven and Dusky Robin.

Best season and getting there: The best time for birdwatching in Tasmania is during summer (November to March) when it is warm and some of the birds have migrated back from their overwintering territories in mainland Australia. There are a lot of combinations of the different trips we offer down in Tasmania that would enable you to make it a truly great birding trip but are also great if you are travelling with non-birdwatching companions.

Orange-bellied Parrots |  <i>Sylvia Ernst</i>

The Overland Track and the Walls of Jerusalem are some of the most popular where you camp deep in World Heritage-listed wilderness for an abundance of up-close opportunities with the park's birdlife. Other trips like the Cycle, Kayak and Walk Tasmania, the Great Tasmanian Traverse, Freycinet Circuit Walk, Franklin River and Frenchman’s Cap, Port Davey Track (for the best chance of seeing Orange-bellied Parrots) or the Bruny Island Food, Bike & Hike are other equally fun ways to explore the birds of Tasmania.

West McDonnell Ranges – Northern Territory

What makes it great for birding?
Heading to Australia's Red Centre offers highly specialised species which have adapted to the many different microclimates separated by vast areas of arid desert habitat. Many of these outback birds are highly nomadic covering large ranges which can make them a challenge to see.

Birds of the outback in the Red Centre are highly specialised species. These are Spinifex Pigeons |  <i>Gavin Yeates</i>

Other species are highly concentrated within one microhabitat and found nowhere else. With changes to the climate, some of these microclimates are becoming harder to find, so nomadic species like the Princess Parrot have become endangered along with a few other species.

While birding in this region can be challenging, it is definitely rewarding. Plus, you can do your bit by uploading your checklists of birds found to citizen science-based websites to help scientists track these specialised species. Read more about the ecology of Central Australia, home to over 180 unique species of birds.

Target species: Spinifex Pigeon, Dusky Grasswren, Spinifexbird, Rufous-crowned Emu-wren, Princess Parrot, Bourke’s Parrot, Western Bowerbird, White-browed Treecreeper, Redthroat, Slaty-backed Thornbill, Grey-headed Honeyeater, Chiming Wedgebill and Painted Firetail.

The Larapinta is home to many fascinating species |  <i>Gavin Yeates</i> Finches and other birds gather around the desert waterholes |  <i>Graham Michael Freeman</i> A birds eye view of the Larapinta Trail |  <i>Peter Walton</i>

Best season and getting there: The best time to visit this region is in the autumn and winter from April to September, so you have access to the remote habitats at comfortable temperatures. There are many comfortable or hardier walks of the Larapinta Trail available, and the more space you cover, the more chances you will have to see more species.

Flinders Ranges – South Australia

What makes it great for birding?
The iconic Australian outback scenery of the Flinders Range makes it a novel habitat for wildlife. Many microclimates within this region support species which cannot be found elsewhere, as well as being a large transition area that supports many migratory species. When water reaches this region, you can also make a side trip up to Lake Eyre to experience an amazing spectacle of bird gatherings you won’t see anywhere else.

Target species: Mulga Parrot, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Short-tailed Grasswren, Redthroat, Chestnut-crowned Babbler, Cinnamon Quail-Thrush and Malleefowl.

A Red-capped Robin along the Murray River Walk

Best season and getting there: The best time to birdwatch in the region is between March and October. Heysen Trail and the Flinders Ranges, Arkaba Walk, Remote Northern Flinders Camel Trek and Flinders Ranges to the Murray River are some of the trips that can get you to this remote area to tick off these great species from your life lists.

While the chance to see these species can be high for each of the areas, wildlife viewings can never be guaranteed. However, this list includes the most accessible areas for ideal chances of birdwatching. Happy birding!

Words by fellow birder Nicolas Cary.

Have a favourite birdwatching location? Share them in the comments below.

Camino Walks: Introducing Europe’s Pilgrimage Routes

From Ireland to Spain and Switzerland to Italy, for centuries people have been congregating to places of worship like Santiago de Compostela and St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. Coming from all directions, this has led to an extensive network of pilgrimage routes across Europe. 

Today, walkers and cyclists alike can enjoy these Camino walks, known as some of the world’s great active travel experiences. To help you find your way amongst all the options you have, we are introducing below the most famous Camino trails and how you can enjoy them. 


Spanish Camino de Santiago 

The end point of many Camino journeys is the city of Santiago de Compostela, which is the capital of an autonomous community in Spain's northwest. Naturally, Spain has a large network of Camino routes snaking their way through the countryside to reach this spiritual destination. The most famous one takes you from St Jean Pied de Port in the Pyrenees via famous places like Leon and Sarria to the tomb of St James in Santiago de Compostela. 

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral |  <i>Janet Oldham</i>

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Via Francigena in Italy & Switzerland

Ancient history and Roman ruins, romantic cities and rustic villages, world-famous cuisine, rich culture and mind-blowing natural beauty – all of this is present along the Via Francigena in Italy. The trail culminates at St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, where walkers & cyclists obtain the final stamp in their credenziale. Begin your walk in Switzerland or follow the Italian section of this pilgrimage route that starts at the St Bernard Pass on the border with Switzerland and travels via the Apennine Mountains and Tuscany to Rome. 

Pilgrim walking into St Peters in Rome at the end of the Via Francigena |  <i>Tim Charody</i>

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Camino Portuguese

For many pilgrims, the Camino Portuguese is more spiritually connected to the Camino than any other way as in Portugal, it is said, is where St James first preached. It is also believed that his final journey to Santiago was via Portugal when his bones were brought back from Jerusalem following his beheading. There Portuguese Camino routes typically starts in Lisbon and takes walkers and cyclists via Porto and Tui to Santiago.

Happy cyclists on the Porto to Santiago self guided cycle |  <i>Pat Rochon</i>

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The French Way of St James

The French Way of St James, also known as the Via Podiensis or Camino Le Puy Way, is often called the most beautiful of all the Camino pilgrimages. It takes walkers and cyclists alike from the ancient town of Le Puy en Velay to the Pyrenees at St Jean Pied de Port. The route passes a multitude of churches and monasteries, resembling a travelling museum of Romanesque art.

On the Way of St James in the Haute Provence near St Privat |  <i>Kate Baker</i>

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St Francis Way (Italy)

The St Francis Way is an Italian Camino route inspired by the life of St Francis of Assisi and links Florence to Rome. Walk through the “green heart” of Italy on this scenic and historic pilgrimage in eastern Tuscany and northern Umbria.

Walking on the open landscapes of western Tuscany on the St Francis Way

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Other Camino Trails in Spain

There are numerous more Camino pilgrimage routes in Spain such as the Camino Primitivo – the original trail from Oviedo and via Lugo; the Camino del Norte – along the north coast of Spain and considered the safest option during the time of the Moors; the English Way – that starts in Ferrol on the Atlantic Sea where the English arrived; or the Camino Finisterre – an extension to Cape Finisterre (historically considered the edge of the world known) after having reached Santiago de Compostela. 


2021 is an important year for the Camino de Santiago: it is a Jacobean Holy Year, and a Camino pilgrimage during this time is even more symbolic, as well as there being other special experiences to encounter. Read the Definitive Guide to the Jacobean Holy Year Camino Pilgrimage by our friends at UTracks. 


Did you know? You can obtain Dual Pilgrimage status if you complete both the Camino de Santiago and the Kumano Kodo trail in Japan. 

Contact our team to choose one of the spectacular European pilgrimage route to walk or cycle.
Lend a Hand Appeal: support local staff, guides & porters

Our friends in Nepal, Peru, India, Tanzania and Kenya – the guides, porters and administration staff that were the backbone of your last World Expeditions adventure – are in need.

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on all of us who derive an income from travel and tourism, equating to millions of jobs lost or at risk in an industry that was just a short time ago a global economic and social force.

During a pandemic the marginalised are not only at greater risk of catching the virus but they are also most likely to suffer the worst effects of the economic downturn.

It's heartbreaking to hear how, for most of those nations, there has been little to no government support and this has impacted the livelihoods of guides, drivers, porters, cooks and staff members behind the scenes.

The trickle down effect on their community and families has caused much fear and anxiety for what many will see as a bleak future ahead while COVID-19 plays out.

The wonderful individuals who have given us so much joy in our travels, are soon to be without income.

You can help by donating to the World Expeditions Foundation’s Lend a Hand Appeal and 100% of funds distributed to the recipients intended and no administration fees withheld.

Who will your donations support?

In line with the mandate of the World Expeditions Foundation, 100% of donations from the appeal will be dispersed to our local partners and their employees in Nepal, Peru, India, Tanzania and Kenya.

These individuals include the field and office team – the guides, porters, drivers, cooks and administration staff.

Please lend a hand today and help make a difference. World Expeditions has kicked off the fundraising with a $AUD1000 donation. 

*Donations over $2 made by Australian residents will receive a tax deductible receipt.

Published 2 June 2020.

The Larapinta Trail: a spotlight on ancient Australia

Celebrating 25 years guiding award-winning walks on Northern Territory's Larapinta Trail, one of the Great Walks of Australia and named in National Geographic’s 100 Hikes of a Lifetime.

Most people lucky enough to have walked all or part of the 223km Larapinta Trail in the West MacDonnell Ranges, near Alice Springs, would agree it’s the combination of stunning scenery and the rich Indigenous history which make the Larapinta one of the most popular multi-day walks in Australia today.

There's the physical beauty of the many waterholes and gorges. The spectacular mountain ranges that contrast so sharply with the endless flat nothingness that we traditionally associate with a desert landscape.

Then there's the palpable feeling of ancientness and the knowledge that you are walking in the footsteps of people belonging to one of the longest continuing cultures on the planet.

Home to the Arrernte (pronounced Ah-runda) people, whose ancestors have inhabited the region for around 40,000 years, the Larapinta is part of Tyurrentye (as the area is known to the Traditional Owners) and is a living landscape with deep spiritual significance to the 16 traditional estates that make up the area.

The whole area abounds with sacred sites, archaeological sites and many dreaming tracks (or 'songlines' as they are commonly known), such as the taye (moon man) dreaming that takes place between Mt Sonder and Glen Helen Gorge.

Guide explaining some of the history of the Larapinta Trail |  <i>Linda Murden</i> The breathtaking Glen Helen Gorge on the Larapinta Trail in Central Australia. |  <i>Ayla Rowe</i> The Ochre Pits are a special site where Aboriginal people quarried ochre for trade and traditional artist use |  <i>Graham Michael Freeman</i> Sunrise on Mt Sonder from Fearless's Camp |  <i>Rachel Imber</i> Ellery Creek swimmimg hole |  <i>Latonia Crockett</i>

Perhaps it’s the echo of those Dreamtime stories, told so often over thousands of years that have permeated the landscape, but there’s a palpable ancientness that many find quite moving. Many marine fossils found high on the West MacDonnell Ranges prove that an inland sea once covered Central Australia and provide geological evidence of this ancientness.

There’s no doubt that the connection with the land is a big part of what’s special about the Larapinta and leading tour operator, World Expeditions, is a strong supporter of collaborating with the local Indigenous community to help clients gain a deeper understanding of Aboriginal culture.

The Classic Larapinta Trek in Comfort, for example, allow trekkers to sample delicious locally grown food and learn about their traditional uses by local Indigenous chef, Rayleen Brown, from Kungkas Can Cook. There’s also a chance to hear Dreamtime stories told by a member of the local Indigenous community in a “Cultural Conversation Experience” on some departures.

But how did the Larapinta become one of the Great Walks of Australia and named in National Geographic’s 100 Hikes of a Lifetime when, less than 25 years ago, it was largely unknown to non-Indigenous people?

A walk to remember

The transition began with a visit from a humble Himalayan guide by the name of Charlie Holmes, who first visited the region during the early ’90s.  Charlie was mesmerized with the beauty of the Larapinta Trail and immediately recognized its commercial potential. His enthusiasm for the trail was infectious and, fortuitously, he was well respected by the adventure travel company, World Expeditions, for whom he’d guided in Nepal.

World Expeditions has a long-established history of pioneering new trips, introducing to the Australian market firsts such as cycling holidays in India (1977) and China (1978) and trekking trips in Mongolia (1980). It didn’t hesitate to support Charlie’s vision to begin operating guided trekking expeditions to the Larapinta in 1995.

While Charlie and World Expeditions nutted out logistics of operating those first treks in the remote desert environment, the Trail was still being developed by the forward-looking Parks and Wildlife Commission of the NT, initially to establish a long-distance trail along the spine of the elongated West MacDonnell National Park.

By the time the full length of the 223km trail was completed in 2002, many sections by low-security prisoners from the NT Correctional Services, the route had been adapted to take the modern route – and Charlie knew it well.

From day one, the Larapinta was popular amongst trekkers, with word of mouth recommendations driving growth. By 2005, the Larapinta Trail had become World Expeditions’ highest-selling itinerary worldwide, establishing a base in Alice Springs and employing a team of professional guides.

  •  Counts Point – a 5km ridgeline walk that offers extensive views of 100km in every direction
  •  The Ochre Pits – a traditional Aboriginal quarry for ceremonial Ochre, in a range of colours from white to yellow, orange and red.
  •  Serpentine Gorge – a stunning gorge cut in the red quartzite cliffs near Charlie’s Camp.
  •  Ormiston Gorge – widely considered the most spectacular in the West Macs. (The 10km Gorge walk is not officially part of the Larapinta Trail but is one of the best short walks in the NT)
  •  Mt Sonder – the summit of which is a wonderful place to witness the sunrise as the sun’s rays spread across the vast folds of the ranges.


Get comfy

The idea of establishing a network of semi-permanent, eco campsites to sustainably manage the increasing demand was first floated around this time but, with so many stakeholders involved, the idea remained on the back burner for several years, until the ownership of the West MacDonnell National Park was returned to the Aboriginal Traditional Owners in 2012.

With the Park being jointly managed by NT Parks and Wildlife Commission and the Traditional owners, negotiation of an exclusive sub-lease agreement progressed and the eco camps were completed in 2013, allowing World Expeditions’ Larapinta product to meet the criteria to become one of the founding seven “Great Walks of Australia”, supported by Tourism Australia and the state Tourism bodies.

Designed by the late Nick Murcutt of Neeson-Murcutt Architects, the eco campsites set a new international benchmark by providing superior standards of service and comfort for trekkers in outback regions, thereby opening the experience to greater numbers of people, who may not have been ready to take on a wilderness camping based trek.

The design incorporates sustainable technologies such as water-free composting toilets, solar lighting systems and a hybrid grey water disposal system designed for the arid environment.

The stars of the desert sky are a stunning backdrop to our unique Semi-Permanent Campsites |  <i>Graham Michael Freeman</i> Soak up the sounds of the desert around our campfire |  <i>Shaana McNaught</i> Trekkers relaxing on the porch of their campsites |  <i>Shaana McNaught</i>

The camps are semi-permanent and are dismantled in the off-season, to allow the land to recover, maintaining the idyllic natural setting of these wilderness sites.

The lounge is designed to keep occupants comfortable in a climate known for extremes, with a moveable stretch canopy providing a cool shady open-sided haven, while also offering a warm shelter during cool nights with the sides pulled down. Cafe style gas burners along with open fire provide heating at night and a commercial standard cooking area allows guides to prepare delicious meals. Hot showers give trekkers a welcome way to wash away the dust of a good days walk on the Larapinta Trail.

The next step

Today, the Larapinta campsites are operated by Australian Walking Holidays, the domestic brand of World Expeditions and, this year, the company celebrates 25 years on the Larapinta Trail. A testament to the quality of the guiding team and the experience itself, the Classic Larapinta Trek in Comfort remains the company’s top-selling trip.

According to Australian Walking Holidays’ General Manager, Michael Buggy, long-term partnerships remain at the heart of the Larapinta experience:

As well as the ongoing collaborations with the Arrernte people and with the Parks and Wildlife Commission of the NT that underpin the whole operation, there have been some very significant contributions from individuals along the way that helped shape the Larapinta experience that we are able to share with people today.

“The camps have been named Charlie’s Camp, Nick’s Camp and Fearless Camp as a tribute to some of these wonderful people who played a pivotal role in their inception,” says Michael.

“Fearless Camp, close to Mount Sonder, seemed a very apt commemoration of the late Sue Fear and her life as a mountaineer and guide, and the fourth and newest of the camps is Sonder Camp, named for its sweeping views of the mountain.”

The four eco-camps are positioned along the trail, as a kind of moving basecamp, which allows walkers to carry only a day pack, with luggage transported by 4WD vehicles between camps.

Last season, Australian Walking Holidays employed 23 guides on the Larapinta Trail – 12 women and 11 men, each of whom bring a love of the land and a warmth that empowers people who walk the trail with them.

“As a participant on the walk, you can expect to have the luxury of being fully present in a way that is not possible in our usual lives; to engage all your senses and be humbled by the beauty of your surrounds and the knowledge that people have preceded you on this walk for millennia,” Michael says.

In addition to being a three times recipient of the NT Tourism’s Brolga Award for best eco-tourism product, the Classic Larapinta Trek in Comfort is a 100% carbon offset trip, with emissions offset by Australian Walking Holidays, as part of our ongoing commitment to sustainable travel.

“We remain mindful that it’s thanks to the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the Central and Western Arrernte Country, that we have the opportunity to explore and enjoy this ancient landscape,” says Michael, “and we hope that the experience ultimately helps build understanding and respect for their place as Custodians of the land.”

This edited article was originally published in Great Walks Magazine, April-May 2020.

Should I hire an electric bike?

Once a rare alternative, electric bicycles – or e-bikes – are growing in popularity, especially for those looking to ride cycle trails with confidence, and often without all the sweat.

Having first offered cycling in India in 1978 and pioneering the first commercial cycling adventures in both China and Vietnam, we know a thing or two about opening up a world of adventure and self-discovery by bike. The great thing about opting for this style of travel is that you don’t need to be a super fit cyclist to explore destinations on two wheels – thanks to the e-bike's battery-powered pedalling ‘boost’.

The growing availability of e-bikes on cycling holidays, which kicked off in Europe, has now expanded to destinations in Vietnam, China, New Zealand, Mongolia, Cambodia, Laos and Japan, giving less able cyclists the confidence to enjoy backroads and picturesque cycle trails they may otherwise have considered too tough for their capabilities.

E-bikes are perfect for cyclists that may require a little assistance on their adventure travels, so you can enjoy every enchanting side road you pass without physical limitations. But are electric bikes worth it, and how do they work? Read on for answers to some frequently asked questions on e-bikes and the benefits they offer.

Jump to a section:
What the difference between an electric bike and a regular bike?
How does an electric bike work? 
Who would most benefit from using an electric bike?
What are the advantages of riding an e-bike?
Why are e-bikes more expensive than a regular bike?
Should I still train for my cycling trip even though I will have an e-bike?

What's the difference between an electric bike and a regular bike?

An electric bike has all the features of a regular bicycle with the addition of an electrical drive system.

They are slightly bigger and heavier than the ordinary bike due to its motor, however, don't get them confused a scooter or electric motorcycle; they are quite different. E-bikes still need to be pedalled, shifted, and steered like you would any other bike, only with the added benefit of having a small engine to assist with your pedalling. So having reasonable handling to hold up an e-bike and the ability to balance on a bicycle is a basic requirement.

How does an electric bike work?

Designed to make cycling easier, electric bikes enable people of all different fitness levels to cycle together and tackle routes that previously would have been too difficult.

It consists of a battery, a motor, a way to integrate the motor’s power into the drivetrain, and a way to control that power.

The motor is your friend as it adds a speed boost when pedalling up that steep incline or taking on a more lengthy cycling distance. It won't leave you exhausted halfway with that extra push.

When riding an e-bike, the display will show you how fast you are going and the distance you've ridden. Depending on the model, e-bikes can provide up to 80 kilometres of pedal assistance before requiring recharging. Simple charge the battery, attach it to your e-bike, turn on the power and adjust the pedal assist level to how much or how little 'boost' you would like on your journey.

Each e-bike has a range of pedal-assist levels (eco, normal and high) and can be easily charged up at night by your guide. Our guides will also demonstrate how to operate the bike so you're set to go. Easy!

Who would most benefit from using an electric bike?

Built with comfort and simple operation in mind, and with unisex frames available, an e-bike makes it easy for anyone looking to enjoy the ride without the physical strain. This makes cycling trips around the world a viable option, regardless of one's fitness level.

Aren't an avid cyclist, new to road cycling and cycling holidays or nervous about your endurance on the trail? Upgrading to an e-bike can help you feel more confident.

Want to tackle tougher climbs? An e-bike allows for that extra boost.

Have joint issues or recovering from an injury and not quite back to full physical capacity? The added support from an e-bike takes it easy on your legs and knees than when riding a traditional bike.

Choosing an electric bike is a great solution for those who are concerned about their fitness or physical capabilities, allowing people with varying levels of cycling experience, health and fitness levels the opportunity to cycle together.

What are the advantages of riding an e-bike?

Apart from the above-mentioned points, there are many additional benefits of using an electric bike.

•  They are eco-friendly and efficient.

•  Easy to use. E-bikes are quick to master and make active holidays physically easier without taking away from the adventurous spirit of the trip.

•  Make a great equaliser when different members of the family or friends have different strength and stamina levels. No longer will you have to worry about keeping up, but simply focus on spending quality time together. With a little extra power, rough terrain is no longer an issue, and daunting headwinds won’t slow you down.

•  Can mean a more fun ride. For many, choosing an e-bike can mean a more relaxed journey where you can spend more time enjoying your surroundings than huffing and puffing. You can better enjoy your surrounds with electric assistance to minimise the physical challenges, so you focus more on taking in new places and welcoming new experiences. It just adds that extra comfort and ease on the trail.

•  Are an added safety net. With less impact on your joints and reducing much of the cycling strain on your legs than a regular bike, if you have injuries or physical conditions, an electric bike allows you to still have a fun and active time. It also won't make you feel like the odd one out.

•  Get you achieving bigger goals! Tougher cycling routes seem more achievable and if you're a newcomer to cycling trips, you can enjoy the benefits of an e-bike at handlebar level.

Why are e-bikes more expensive than a regular bike?

The added motor and the fact that an e-bike will require more maintenance means hiring an electric bike will cost more than an ordinary bike. So if the support and added ease of an electric pedal assist on your travels appeals to you, it may well be worth the investment.

Should I still train for my cycling trip even though I will have an e-bike?

Yes. If you're looking to complete a multi-day e-bike ride, we still recommend riding practice on a variety of terrains and cycling regularly to make your trip more enjoyable.

So perhaps you can do that New Zealand cycling trip your friends want to do?

If you’re curious about being able to ride through stunning landscapes that you may otherwise steer clear of, we have a number of cycle tours with e-bike options available.


Traveller stories: Walking in Kakadu

Although we’re collected from various hotels around Darwin early in the morning of Day 1 of our 6-day Kakadu Explorer, it’s not until mid-morning – during the traditional welcome by the indigenous Wulna Aboriginal elders – that I wake up fully and excitement builds about the adventure ahead.

As each of my trekking buddies bows their head to be sprayed with water, I feel like we’re experiencing something special together.

As we get off the sealed roads travelling east in our specially modified 4WD van along the old Jim Jim Road, we pass wetlands, such as Red Lily Billabong. The anticipation builds as we arrive in the midst of Australia's largest land national park, about to see some of what makes Kakadu a World Heritage-listed international attraction.

I’m impressed with my travelling buddies as, one by one, we prove our canvas tent covers on our pre-setup tents to allow a clear view of what promises to be star-studded skies. Even a dreaded cane toad hiding in the deep shade of one of the tents fails to bring on even a mild panic attack amongst our happy camper community.

The afternoon's sunset cruise on the nearby Yellow Water billabong is the perfect way for us to see the wealth of wildlife all around us. We see brumbies, wallabies, salt water crocodiles (big ones!) and thousands of birds. There are magpie geese, brolgas, cormorants, pelicans and jabiru, Australia's largest flying bird. Our expert wildlife guide managed to convey his rapture in the surrounds, infecting us all with his enthusiasm.

Home to our cosy campfire and a dinner of fresh, wild-caught, local barramundi on the BBQ, the biggest dilemma of the day looms – do we get to bed early to rest up for the long trek tomorrow or stay by the fire to watch for even more shooting stars?

Most of us opt for the early night and we feel strangely alert and awake when the birds wake us much earlier than the traffic does in whatever city we've come from.

After a relaxed breakfast, we drive to Nourlangie massif. This is where we begin our walk across the crest of the plateau. The walk reveals a diversity of habitats, from cool monsoon vine forests to rugged stone country. It gives us a view of what the landscape was like in ancient times. The escarpment we see today is the less eroded part of the original range.

It's an active day – and hot – though no-one's bothered by it, we all look for some shade when we stop to hear about the rock art and what it signifies.

As the day continues, the stunning waterfalls and gorges of Kakadu are welcomed by group with enthusiasm. Barramundi Falls is reached by walking through the monsoon forest, which opens out to deep plunge pool lined with blonde quartzite cliffs.

I can't help thinking that the Gunlom plunge pools on top of the escarpment are better than any exclusive resort's infinity pool anywhere in the world. It's a stunning series of rock pools and waterfalls with views over some of the most amazing scenery in the Northern Territory.

I skip showers on the last two days because I was in so much water that another water fix would have been redundant! It's a sure sign that I'm adjusting to life away from the city.

I go to bed earlier than I do at home, get plenty of exercise and eat fresh, delicious food that I don't have to shop for or cook. All the while, I'm surrounded by a fun, interesting bunch of people in the surrounds of a world-class natural attraction.

Hiking the Jatbula Trail: Northern Territory's must-do trek

Looking for an active adventure in the Top End? The Jatbula Trail in the Northern Territory's Nitmiluk National Park makes for the perfect tropical trek. Travel writer, Andrew Bain, shares his account.

This story was originally published by Traveller.

Three steps from my bed, the river has ballooned into a virtual billabong. Lilies bloom in purple glory around its banks and goanna tracks lead through the sand to the water.

As evening approaches, the river settles to be as still as a painting. We're at a place called Sandy Camp and it's everything the name on the tin suggests – a soft bed of sand beside the Edith River that's home to one of the Northern Territory's most idyllic campsites. It's also a camp that's exclusive to bushwalkers because it can be accessed only by hiking the 62-kilometre Jatbula Trail through Nitmiluk National Park.

It's our final night on the trail and tomorrow we have 14 kilometres and three swims still ahead. It's about as good as it gets on foot.

Our journey on the Jatbula Trail began four days earlier, at the mouth of Katherine Gorge. As an armada of tourist canoes headed into the gorge, we were walking away from it, stepping through the savannah woodland that characterises so much of the Top End.

Running north from the gorge, the Jatbula Trail follows a course used by generations of Jawoyn people, tracing the line of the Arnhem Land Escarpment to Leliyn (Edith Falls). It's a trail that lives in the shadow of the famed Larapinta Trail out of Alice Springs, but has its own very distinctive appeals.

The trail's ascending scale of campsite beauty culminates at Sandy Camp.

Relax in the splendid isolation of Sandy Camp Pool |  <i>Larissa Duncombe</i>

As Katherine Gorge falls behind us, the trail weaves between small rocky peaks. Fallen billygoat plums – a native fruit said to have more than 20 times the vitamin C of an orange – litter the track and the midday heat on the open savannah is intense.

Within an hour, however, the trail turns into a break in the escarpment, where a large pool, Northern Rockhole, lies limpid beneath the cliffs.

If the Jatbula Trail has a theme, it is this: hot walking and cool swimming. Water is its defining feature.

You think about it during the blazing-hot hours on foot, and you luxuriate in it each afternoon, with every campsite set beside a cooling (and crocodile-free) stream or pool.

From Northern Rockhole, the trail ascends slowly through the escarpment, rising onto the "stone country" that so typifies Arnhem Land. Outcrops of sandstone run like welts through the dry land, and ancient rock art peeps from beneath overhangs and boulders. All around us are the orange flares of the woollybutt flowers – in the trees, where the flowers' appearance heralds the arrival of the dry season, and underfoot, where they've been shredded and tossed by t red-tailed black cockatoos.

Days aren't long on the Jatbula Trail – campsites are typically 10 or 11 kilometres apart – and by mid-afternoon we're at our first camp beside Biddlecombe Cascades. Here, a creek falls towards the plain in a series of surges, creating a range of pools as it goes.

The afternoon passes with cold water pouring over my shoulders. We sleep out beneath mosquito nets, savouring the fresh night air after the heat of the day. The sound of the cascades drifts through camp, and the near-full moon is like a reading lamp swivelling across the sky.

Natural gallery

Jawoyn Aboriginal Rock Art is found throughout the escarpment |  <i>Anne Jordan</i>

Each day we rise before dawn and walk early, mitigating the heat. For long periods, the trail stays near the escarpment edge, cutting through savannah woodland that is at once beautiful and nondescript, with the orangey-pink trunks of salmon gums beaming in the sunlight.

For 11 kilometres there's not a sign of water, until the trail descends to Crystal Falls, where a stream rushes through a gorge cut deep into the plateau.

It's 1pm – the full heat of the day – and we are done. This is camp and there are hours to idle away in the cascades. By morning the creek resembles a cauldron, as steam pipes from its surface into the chill of the dawn air.

As we splash across in our bare feet, we're setting off into a day with a familiar theme – the siren call of water – but also one with a difference.

After two hours of walking, we come to the top of a gorge sliced into the escarpment. Known as the Amphitheatre, it's one of Nitmiluk National Park's prime rock-art sites and can only be reached on the Jatbula Trail. A set of metal stairs descends into the Amphitheatre, where a stream meanders through monsoon rainforest.

Butterflies drift about and ferns feather down from the shaded walls. It's a cool natural shelter in a hot land, almost like a pocket of temperate Australia inserted into the Top End. Along the base of the cliffs striped with ochre deposits, a line of rock art depicts a trio of emus and human figures, including a woman dressed in her finery to attract a man.

Exploring the magnificent Jatbula Trail

Saving the best till last

Each day the setting for the campsites gets gradually more impressive and dramatic. This night, one hour of walking beyond the Amphitheatre, we camp at the head of 17 Mile Falls, where 17 Mile Creek plunges over 30 metres of sheer cliffs before meandering out of sight in a dark line of greenery.

From the cliff edge, a few metres from camp, it's like looking at a snapshot of nearby Kakadu National Park: red cliffs, a torrent of water, the yellow savannah plains below, the distant dark gulch of the Amphitheatre. And we have it to ourselves.

For three days we've not seen another person. Nor will we see anybody the next day as we walk on to Sandy Camp. Not that we're entirely alone, for there are regular encounters with wildlife.

Approaching lunch the next day we come to Edith River, our guiding line to the Jatbula Trail's finish, 20 kilometres away.

A wild pig snoozes in the long grass beside the track, scuttling away as we pass. Goannas soak up the heat of the day at the river's edge. In the middle of the track there's a buffalo turd the size of several house bricks, so fresh I now find myself walking with one eye cast watchfully over my shoulder.

Along the banks of the river, the bush thickens. Pandanus leaves rustle in the wind, paperbark trees tower out of the swampy ground and a canopy finally shields us from the sun.

After almost four days in the open grasslands of the savannah, it feels like stepping into a jungle. The Jatbula Trail's ascending scale of campsite beauty culminates at Sandy Camp, where the Edith River widens into its mercury-smooth lagoon.

As I sit in the shallows, soaking the day from my body and mind, hundreds of tiny rainbowfish swirl around me. An egret perches on a nearby log.

Tomorrow we will walk on, away from this Top End paradise and back towards civilisation. But tomorrow can wait.

Experience it yourself

Our 6-day full-pack expedition is ideal for both first-time and experienced bushwalkers. View trek > 

Combine the Jatbula Trail with a Katherine River Canoeing trip for the ultimate Top End wilderness experience.


Rafting Tasmania's Franklin River: why it's so special

The quick answer: because you almost lost the opportunity to do it. Though, there is plenty more appeal when seeking a rafting adventure along Tasmania's iconic Franklin River.

In the late 70s, Tasmania’s hydroelectric scheme had its sights on building a dam on the Franklin River. The very name ‘Franklin River’ was dividing the community – the country – between those who wanted the dam and those who didn’t. Bob Hawke didn’t want the dam. Hawke won the election.

Since that period, it seems that the ‘Franklin River’ has been synonymous with bringing people together. Experiences shared on the Franklin are memories entrenched for life between you and the crew on your trip. Not only does the wild and remote beauty draw you in, but also the stories of how this special part of the world might not have been here today – with thanks to the ‘No Dams’ campaign and figureheads in the movement, like Bob Brown, David Bellamy and Geoff Law.

In 2012, Outside magazine in the US listed a trip on Tasmania’s Franklin River as the ‘Best white-water rafting journey on earth’, nudging out other contenders from Tibet, the US, Bhutan, Peru and Zambia. In the same year, the Editor of the Australia’s Outdoor magazine, Justin Walker, went down the river and proclaimed, “The Franklin River trip was probably the best trip I have done since being Editor of Outdoor – I would do it all again tomorrow!”

So, why this river? 

Its pure, unspoiled wilderness. Despite commercial rafting on the Franklin starting in the late 70s, those who raft it today will agree that the river is in fine shape – better than ever, perhaps. You can still drink the tannin-stained water straight from the boat; not many river journeys can boast that simple pleasure. 

Then there’s the genuine expedition feeling of being somewhere truly remote. Packed with everything you need for the trip in barrels and dry bags – typically over nine days, once you drop-in there’s pretty much no way out. As you forge your way through the rugged southwest of Tasmania, through deep gorges, quiet pools and magnificent temperate rainforest, the sense of isolation becomes apparent. It dawns on you that, apart from the Aboriginal paintings in the Kutikina Cave, you will have seen very little evidence of human impact along the river.

And, of course, the history. Named after the early explorer Sir John Franklin, The Franklin River holds a special place in Australian history. From lost convicts to modern day politics, the river has inspired a conservation movement, best-selling books, iconic images and of course all those who experienced her unique beauty on a rafting expedition.

It doesn’t hurt having a bit of ‘cool’ factor as well. Slipping out names like Thunderrush, The Sanctum, Jaw Breaker, Sidewinder and the Great Ravine, The Cauldron, The Churn and Nasty Notch, will only add to your epic holiday tales!

Only the bravest, or most foolish, souls would ever consider tackling the Franklin on their own. Safety should be considered above all else and it pays to travel on the river with someone who knows the difference between their eddy and their river right. 

Too little water, you can’t raft, too much and you’ll be getting the kit out to portage around tricky sections and rapids that really should be avoided by anyone who has no river knowledge. Lose your luggage because it’s not properly secured and you’ll be shivering for the rest of the trip. 

We offer a 9 day Franklin trip as well as an 11 day version that includes a 2 day side-trip to Frenchmans Cap. It’s an iconic Australian trip that everyone should do at least once.

When to visit Kakadu National Park

Not sure when to go to Kakadu? Find information on the region's climate and weather to help you decide the best season to explore one of Australia's biggest and most diverse national parks.

Seasons and Weather Conditions in Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park has varied seasons that can see the terrain experience monsoon rains, storms, humidity and cool weather. With such varied extremes, the park's Aboriginal inhabitants have divided the year into six distinct seasons. 

Mid October - late December: Gunumeleng – Pre-Monsoon Storm Season

Gunumeleng is a pre-monsoon season that can last from a few weeks to a few months. From mid-October to late December, visitors can expect hot weather that becomes more and more humid. With thunderstorms in the afternoons and scattered showers throughout the day, the rain brings life to the landscape and new growth from the plants becomes more widespread.

Sometimes, as the streams begin to run, acidic water rushes down from the floodplains and into the billabongs, decreasing the oxygen levels in the water and causing fish to die. You may begin to notice waterbirds in abundance as new growth becomes more widespread and barramundi begin to migrate from waterholes to the estuaries downstream to breed. 

January - March: Gudjewg – Monsoon Season

Kakadu's true wet season occurs between January and March when the land is drenched with regular thunderstorms, heavy rain and flooding. Plant and animal life during these months thrive thanks to the increase in water, heat and humidity. Speargrass in the national park can grow up to two metres tall throughout the woodlands. 

April: Banggereng – Storm Season

Also referred to as "knock 'em down" season, Banggerreng is characterised by early, strong windy storms that roll through and flatten the speargrass that has been thriving between January and March. From mid-April, rain clouds disperse and with it, the vast expanses of floodwater and streams begin to run clear. With clear skies and sunny days, this is a time when plants begin to fruit and animals care for their young.

May - Mid June: Yegge – Cooler but still Humid Season

While the southern states of Australia shiver through winter, Yegge in Kakadu is relatively cool with low humidity. During this time, waterlilies carpet billabongs and shallow wetlands, providing picture-perfect scenes in areas such as the Yellow Water Billabong.

Spend your mornings gazing over the misty plains and waterholes in the early hours, or your afternoons admiring the flowering woolly butt flowers in bloom. 

Mid-June - Mid-August: Wurrgeng – Cold Weather Season

The 'coldest' months in Kakadu are not considered cold by any stretch of the imagination, as daytime temperatures hover around 30°C and evenings dip to 17°C. This is prime walking season in Kakadu or on the Jatbula Trail, thanks to its clear blue skies, sunny days and manageable temperatures. You're more likely to see an abundance of waterbirds around billabongs, as the waterholes begin to drink after months of no rain. 

Mid-August - Mid-October: Gurrung – Hot Dry Weather

Typically hot and dry, the early spring months are pleasant and can offer travellers a chance to see wildlife, such as long-necked turtles laying their eggs on some of Kakadu's sandy beaches.

Towards mid-October, temperatures build alongside the thunderclouds, signalling the approaching pre-monsoon season.

Temperatures in Kakadu National Park

The following charts provide an indication of rainfall, temperatures and humidity within the Kakadu region. Data for the charts were sourced from the Bureau of Meteorology, Darwin.

Temperature Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
Mean maximum temperature (°C) 33.6 33.3 33.7 34.5 33.6 31.8 32 33.8 36.3 37.6 36.9 35 34.3
Mean minimum temperature (°C) 24.7 24.5 24.4 23.6 21.9 19.4 18.7 19.1 21.6 23.9 25 24.9 22.6

Sunny Days vs Cloud Coverage in Kakadu

Other daily elements Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
Mean daily sunshine (hours) 6.4 6.6 6.1 8.6 9.3 9.4 9.7 10 9.4 9.4 8.4 7.3 8.4
Mean number of clear days 0.3 1.2 1.5 3.2 7.9 9.9 10.8 15 11.1 5.4 1.2 0.2 67.7
Mean number of cloudy days 13.8 12.8 11.7 5.5 2.9 1.8 2.1 1.8 1.8 3.4 8.8 12.5 78.9

Rainfall in Kakadu 

The best time to visit Kakadu National Park is in the winter season, where the rainfall is minimal. Summer is known for the 'West Season' with afternoon showers cooling the hot temperature down to the early thirties.

Rainfall Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
Mean rainfall (mm) 357.3 359.0 313.1 89.1 16.0 1 3.2 2.6 12.0 39.6 139.9 225.6 1564.9
Mean number of days of rain ≥ 1 mm 18.6 18 17.5 6 1.6 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.5 2.6 9.4 13.6 88.4

While the above information indicates average temperature, rainfall and other weather factors, we recommend visiting the Bureau of Meteorology for up-to-date weather information before your visit to Kakadu.

Kakadu video diary: day-to-day itinerary

Discover Australia's largest terrestrial national park: Kakadu National Park. At almost half the size of Switzerland, the World Heritage Area is huge, covering some 20,000 square kilometres.

Our full-day video itineraries below showcase the park's must-visits while taking you beyond the main tourist sites to reveal's magic – perfect for wildlife lovers and active travellers alike.

The highlights

Head away from the crowds on our walking based itinerary, which include a cruise on the Yellow Waters (a favourite haunt of saltwater crocodiles), chasing waterfalls at the red cliffs off the Arnhem Land escarpment, visiting tranquil wetlands teem with animal and birdlife; while 40,000 years of Aboriginal cultural heritage is on display in the numerous hidden rock art galleries.

And, after venturing into remote gorges, enjoy overnight stays in scenically located, semi-permanent campsites where you can relax in idyllic tropical surrounds – exclusive to only you and your group.

If you're planning a visit to Kakadu, here's how to get the most out of it over four days.

Day 1: Traditional welcome to country & Yellow Water Billabong cruise

Meet with Wulna Aboriginal elders for a traditional welcome to country; followed by morning tea, damper and a chance to discuss culture, tradition or walk by the billabong. We then get off the sealed roads and travel east by 4WD along the old Jim Jim Road, passing some of the great wetlands such as Red Lily Billabong.

In the afternoon, after settling in at our permanent safari camp at Djarradjin Billabong in the heart of Kakadu. During the evening, experience a cruise on the nearby Yellow Water billabong, home to an astounding variety of wildlife. Here you may encounter brumbies, wallabies and goannas drinking from the waterside, salt water crocodile and thousands of birds including Magpie Geese, Brolgas, Cormorants, Pelicans and Jabiru, Australia’s largest flying bird. The flat-bottomed boat is guided by an expert wildlife guide.

Day 2: Massif & sandstone walk

This morning we will experience the extraordinary sunrise over the wetlands with the option to join the famous Yellow Water cruise or just relax around camp. After a relaxed breakfast we drive to Nourlangie massif and begin our stunning walk traversing the crest of this quartzite plateau.

The walk reveals the extraordinary diversity of habitats of the escarpment, from cool Monsoon Vine Forest to the rugged stone country on top. This is an active day so be prepared for a 13 km+ walking adventure. We then return to our group campsite at Djarradjin Billabong.

Day 3: Barramundi (Maguk) Falls & Gunlom Plunge Pool

Heading south we will explore some of the most stunning waterfalls and gorges of Kakadu. Barramundi Falls is reached via a walk through the monsoon forest, opening out to deep plunge pool lined with blonde quartzite cliffs.

In the afternoon we travel on to the far south of Kakadu and our semi-permanent campsite near Gunlom. This iconic waterfall and plunge pool is ringed by sandy beaches and pandanus palms, the perfect spot to relax. The sunset views from the swimming pool on top of the Gunlom Waterfall are some of the most remarkable views of the NT.

Our accommodation is another semi-permanent safari camp adjacent to the main campground. We are just a short stroll from the beach and plunge pool.

Day 4: Southern Kakadu wilderness walk

We head deep in to Southern Kakadu, Buladjang Country to take a 14km walk and pay a visit to visit Motorcar Creek Falls areas. The highlight is rock scrambling through spectacular gorges to reach crystal clear, unspoilt rock pools of remarkable beauty and some outstanding views of the surrounding hills and woodland. The pace of the walk and the distance covered is up to the mood of the group on the day.

On the way, there are often limpid rock pools lined with ferns and Livistonia palms and within the walls of the gorge, birds and animals find water and shelter from the heat of the plains. It is a wonderful opportunity to explore this magical environment and once again the day can be as strenuous as the group prefers.

This is an area that only very few people are privileged to experience, and for many, this day is one of the highlights of the trip.

Feeling inspired? Experience this and more on our guided Kakadu walking adventures, which take in national park’s best secret spots, while staying at our exclusive and comfortable campsites. The itinerary may vary to make the most of the season by choosing the best walks and times to visit waterfalls as the wet season floodwaters recede and access opens up.


3 reasons for an Australian family holiday

This summer, why not escape the typical family holiday and have a family adventure instead? These adventures are the perfect way to excite, educate and entertain all of the family. Explore some of the most stunning, rugged and remote areas of Australia and Tasmania on a multi-day walking adventure, spending evenings camping under the moonlight, sharing stories and making memories.

Travelling is more than just sight-seeing, so our family trips have been crafted to immerse you deep into the wilderness. Most are tailored with a young traveller in mind and the minimum age is typically 8-11 years old. The pace of these holidays is more relaxed, giving you time to explore a destination, spending your days walking in stunning locations off the beaten track.

For families with younger children who are yearning for adventure, we also offer tours as private groups, which cater for children between 2-10 and are customisable to your needs. All you need to do is contact us and speak to one of our friendly consultants, and we can work with you on an adventure perfectly suited for your family.

Check out some of the benefits of embarking on a family adventure.

The family that plays together, stays together

Most families have busy schedules, full of work, school, extra curricular activities, friends parties, the list goes on... So how can you spend time as a family and really get to know each other during the holidays? Simple! Make use of your holidays and have a family adventure instead! Find an activity that allows you to spend time as a family and get to know each other - without the daily distractions. Better yet, combine this activity while exploring some of the most stunning landscapes that Australia has to offer.

An education like no other

School may teach your children about maths, science and English, but when it comes to gaining a real-world appreciation of nature and the environment, some things are better experienced than taught. Trekking gives your children the opportunity to learn first hand about things they may have learnt in school, creating an interactive learning experience that will teach children about geography, climate, the environment, history and so much more. The cherry on the top? Learning through experience is way more fun for them than learning it through homework.

An adventure is just around the corner... literally.

One of the best things about our family adventures is that you don’t even need to leave the country to have one! Australia’s safe, remote and rugged wilderness is perfectly explorable, and teaching your children from a young range how diverse, stunning and beautiful their own back yard will give them a newfound appreciation for their home land and champion for its conservation in later years!

Top Family Adventures

Cradle Mountain Short Escape

Family enjoying a walk in Cradle Mountain National Park |  <i>Sue Badyari</i>

What better way to explore the rich diversity of Tasmania’s Cradle mountain National Park than with your family on a short escape? This three day adventure involves carrying just a day pack, with achievable challenges like a summit of Cradle Mountain, exploring the fascinating caves of the Mole Creek Karst National Park, and best of all, the whole family will enjoy it! With a level 2 grading, and priced at great value for children, the Cradle Mountain short escape is a family favourite. View trip >

Family Kakadu Explorer

Create memories in Kakadu's idyllic tropical surrounds and dramatic escarpments Enjoy a complete adventure that's active and educational Family fun in the Top End waterholes |  <i>Kate Baker</i>

Explore the Top End's secret spots on a 6-day walking tour that reveals the magic of Kakadu. Wander past sparkling waterfalls, remote gorges and ancient indigenous rock art sites on this series of day walks that combine active adventure with comfortable wilderness camping in our semi-permanent campsites. Throw in a river cruise down the Yellow Waters to spot saltwater crocodiles and wild brumbies and you have a family adventure that everyone will love! This trip is a must for any active family looking for a great summer adventure! View trip >

Larapinta Trek Family Adventure

Enjoy a family focused trip of Australia's iconic desert trek. Fully supported and enjoying many outback comforts, you walk with just a day pack to explore the best sections of the Larapinta brimming with history, ancient rock art and incredible landscapes. From the dramatic colour changes in the rock formations at Simpsons Gap to the vast plains atop of Mt Sonder to watch the sunrise, it makes for an incredible family adventure.

But the best part is that at the end of each day, the whole family can relax in comfort at our architect-designed camps – including hot showers, comfortable lounges and heated dining shelter – as our guides prepare gourmet 3-course dinners around the campfire. View trip >

How to take on New Zealand’s longest cycle trail

Extending more than 300 kilometres from the base of the mighty Southern Alps to the vibrant coastal town of Oamaru at the Pacific Ocean, New Zealand’s Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail is world-class riding. And you don't need to be a keen cyclist to enjoy it.

Located in the South Island, it is the country’s longest continuous cycle route – and one of the most diverse bike trails – with a combination of on and off-road trails. It's the next most popular trip after the Otago Rail Trail (watch our video below to see why).

Throw in spectacular backdrops of Aoraki Mount Cook, rolling farmland, a network of turquoise lakes and the welcoming hospitality of Kiwis and it comes at no surprise why the Alps 2 Ocean trail is world-famous.

The Lake Ohau inlet |  <i>Daniel Thour</i> Lake Aviemore is one of 5 lakes you'll see along the trail |  <i>Daniel Thour</i> Cyclists taking in the majestic views of Aoraki Mt Cook |  <i>Colin Monteath</i>

Along the way, small towns and rural settlements offer friendly pubs and cafés as well as unique and local accommodation to relax after a day on the bike. There's plenty to do off the bike as well. Soak in thermal hot pools, enjoy a wine tasting in one of the Waitaki vineyards, discover ancient Maori rock art, marvel at otherworldly limestone outcrops, stargaze under the most incredible night sky and explore the towering clay cliffs.

What it’s like to cycle the Alps 2 Ocean Trail guided in under 4 minutes:


We've been offering quality, Qualmark Gold awarded guided adventures in New Zealand through our Adventure South NZ operation, who have pioneered trips since 1992. All of our Alps to Ocean itineraries are fully supported and include accommodation, a support vehicle, experienced guides and delicious meals. E-bikes are available for hire on itineraries.

Find more helpful information and frequently asked questions on the Alps to Ocean cycle below.

How difficult is the Alps to Ocean cycle?

Overall the trail descends 780m from the Southern Alps to The Pacific Ocean, although don’t be fooled into thinking it's all downhill. There are some introductory sections and some moderate sections with a variety of ‘cruisy’ downhill sections, flat trail sections and several rewarding uphills that you will need to be prepared for.

Our Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail is graded introductory to moderate and is suitable for almost anyone with a moderate level of fitness. So you don’t have to be an avid cyclist to enjoy a cycling trip in New Zealand, just to be reasonably fitness with a spirit of adventure and a love of nature.

Three or six days, there’s an itinerary to suit a variety of riders – from beginners to those who are comfortable in a saddle, with an e-bike option also available.

When to ride the Alps to Ocean trail?

The riding season on the Alps to Ocean trail is from October to April, with each season providing its own unique experience on the trail.

Spring (October - November)
Come spring, the weather is starting to warm up, the flowers start to bring colour to the trail and there are fewer people around meaning uninterrupted views – there is a higher chance of rain, however, the spring flowers can often make up for that.

Beautiful local flora around New Zealand's Lake Tekapo |  <i>Learna Cale</i>

Summer (December - February)
Summer is a great time to ride the trail. The trail is buzzing with people, and with lupine in bloom. The days are hot but not too hot for cycling and the daylight hours are longer meaning more time to explore. 

Autumn (March - April)
Crisp sunny days, long fine spells of weather and cooler temperatures make Autumn a great time to ride the trail. The summer crowds have moved on and autumn shows its true colours as the changing leaves transform the landscape into a golden paradise.

What gear should I bring?

The weather can change unexpectedly in New Zealand as cold fronts and warm highs quickly blow in, so it’s important to have the right gear. This basically means having a good waterproof jacket and several layers of warm clothing for any cold spells and lightweight clothing for the hotter days.

A fleece and/or jumper and good thermals are a must (even in summer). Gloves are always handy to have as well as padded cycling shorts for those long days on the bike.

We supply a full gear list for the trip before you arrive to make sure your trip is as comfortable as possible.

How much training do I need to do? What is the trail surface like?

Cycling distances range from 30 kilometres to 65 kilometres on the trail each day, so you will need a reasonable level of fitness. We suggest 90 minutes of cycling three to five times a week for the three months leading up to your trip.

There is a mix of surfaces on the trail from gravel, to dedicated cycle trail (small stones) and sealed roads. We do recommend spending some time cycling on loose gravel to make your cycling experience more enjoyable. 

What do I do if I get tired on the bike?

One of the best parts about a guided trip is having the support vehicle nearby if you get tired or want a break. Your guide will let you know where the next vehicle can next access the trail and you can hop on-board.

Cycling through Pasquale Kurow Winery |  <i>Daniel Thour</i>

What happens if I get hungry or thirsty while I’m cycling?

There is always a selection of fresh fruit and snacks in the support vehicle, which you will have access to at the stops along the trail or can carry with you in your bike bag. There is also a supply of water in the support vehicle, which you can access regularly to refill your water bottle.

Will I have cell phone reception?

There is good mobile reception along most of the trail.

Is Wi-Fi available along the trail?

Most of the accommodation we use along the trail will have Wi-Fi. This may not be unlimited and there may be the occasional place without it but it's always good to detach from the screen every now and then.

Can I bring my own bike?

Yes, you can bring your own bike. You can also bring your own pedal or seats, however, you just need to check in with our bookings team to make sure they are the right fit for our bikes.

Stay safe, but keep dreaming BIG

When reality gets too much, dreams help us to survive.

Who would have thought that we would be sitting here today in a world that changed overnight?

Where today is an incredibly different today from yesterday, and where tomorrow still brings with it many unknowns.

Some of us relish in the adventure, grabbing it with both hands, excited for the changes and adapting to the new reality to explore. Some of us struggle to adapt, living with the fear of the unknown, anxious, uncertain and wondering: what next? No matter where you sit right now on this current new adventure we are all in this together.

So take a moment. Breathe in. Sit back and dream for a moment of where you might want to go to next.

It seems that as kids, we were better at dreaming than what we are now. We would go into our own world where we would think about who we would marry, what kind of house we would live in, whether we would have a cat or a dog, what we would do when we grew up, what kind of cake we would have for our birthday, and well, what exotic destinations we would travel to.

For some of us, it was a rocket to the moon. For others, it was camping during the holidays along the river. No matter how big or small, we dreamed and for that moment; we escaped our reality. The game of life was ours and we could make it whatever we wanted.

As I sit and think about where to next, I think about the amazing trips of the past. That cycle trip down the Danube on a beautiful Spring day in Europe. Blue skies, and bitter ice-cold days with pelting rain.

Cycling along one of the most well-known rivers in Europe. Peering over stone walls into village gardens, trying not to be nosey, but interested in what lay over that stone wall.

Stopping for coffee and pastries at one of the many bakeries and patisseries along the way or my favourite, discovering the amazing flavour of poppyseed ice-cream which for a lover of poppyseed was heaven. Also discovering a new favourite soup, Baerlauchcremesuppe, (Wild Garlic Soup), all of the flavour, none of the pungency.

Peering through stained glass windows of old churches and reading the headstones in the historic and gothic looking graveyards trying to work out their stories. And well, who could forget Vienna!

Then there were those trips to Africa. A real eye-opener and honestly, never really on my bucket list. From the best of the best on offer in South Africa, including seeing the slum life of Soweto, delving into the history of humankind, sampling delectable South African wines and local produce in Franschoek, experiencing 5-star game lodges and drives in Kruger, the native fauna of Grootbosch and much more. To 4WD game drives in the forests of Tanzania and the well know Ngorongoro Crater with wildlife everywhere you could possibly see.

Of course, one of the main dreams that became reality was climbing Kilimanjaro. Taking each step on that final night, in the pitch, black darkness, with not much left in the tank. Crying. Thinking what on earth are we doing. Eating gummy bears.

But you haven’t seen a sunrise, until you are standing on the roof of Africa, seeing it raise its head over the continent. Bringing with it the warmth and the utter joy that you need.

Perhaps the adventure is in the mystery of the land and its people such as my trip along the Silk Road. Stories vaguely recall from history lessons past, but nothing much known about the people or the landscape of these lands.

I learnt that trekking in the Fann Mountains is by far one of the most scenic in the world. Stunning vistas. Crystal clear blue lakes.

Amazing mountain surrounds from atop the high passes and incredibly friendly locals who pull up to your tent and you’re not entirely sure if they are out to rob you, or chat – chat it was in our combined Russian, Tajik and Croatian dialects. The people are incredibly friendly.

Melons, cucumbers and tomatoes are a staple. But you will never have a peach as tasty as you will in Uzbekistan, nor see such intricate buildings and architecture.

Some of us might want the rough and rugged. The untouched landscapes that are shaped by ice, wind and geology on a journey to the Arctic Circle, where the weather is unpredictable and the wildlife even more so. The scenery changes on a daily basis.

The journey onboard a small ship has a planned day to day schedule, yet the plan gets thrown out the window depending on what the day brings.

Where you think you might see a Polar Bear, only to have the crew describe what you might actually see is just a cream dot in a ‘Where’s Wally’ type of photo. But where all your landings are aborted due to the abundance of Polar Bears.

Where you experience them on ice on a perfectly blue sky day or see them on ice in full-blown blizzard conditions.

Or witness a real take your breath away moment, seeing them feeding on a walrus carcass on land, whilst you sit in utter silence on a small boat, which bobs up and down as you try to take the perfect shot, careful as to not drop your camera or make a peep.

Where nature owns the landscape and the itinerary.

There is still so much on the travel dream list. The pyramids and ancient cities of Mexico, (as well as eating proper guacamole). The flavours and pilgrimage trails of Spain and Portugal. A trek through the amazing mountains of the Canadian Rockies. The wild landscapes and untouched regions of Patagonia. . . my list goes on and on.

We have never quite known what life is going to throw at us, and well, that is both the beauty and the adventure that is life.

Sometimes we need the fantasy to survive the reality.

So relax now. Take time to read that book, explore a country online, or learn a new language so that when I ask you in a few months time, you will be able to tell me: where to next?

Published 8 April 2020. Words by Natalie Tambolash.

This article is featured in Adventure Magazine New Zealand. Read the April 2020 issue online for free.


Global-inspired flavours: favourite recipes our team are cooking

When we recently checked in on the welfare of our friends, colleagues and partners around the world to see how they were dealing with the chaos caused by COVID-19, many had mentioned that they had been taking the time to enjoy cooking their favourite recipes to help pass the time.

From sub-continental recipes that will spice up your meals to simple baking delights that will impress your mother-in-law, here's what's cooking in our team's kitchen.

Jump to a recipe:
1. Traditional Chilean Ceviche
2. Spicy Indian Chicken Curry 
3. Make your own Sourdough Bread
4. Vietnamese Edge-fried Bacon
5. Bolivian Quinoa Croquettes
6. Bobotie – The South African National Dish
7. Spanish Churros
8. British Cola Chicken
9. Burmese Street Food Shan Noodles
10. Bonus: Peter Kuruvita's Sri Lankan Ridged Gourd Curry

Traditional Chilean Ceviche

Adventure outfitter Claudia from Santiago, Chile has been busy in her home office while organising her two young children's online classes, but she has still managed to bring out the fun in the home by cooking together as a family.

"Our once-upon-a-time dining room is now a family co-working space (even if my husband who works in finances takes most of the place with his screens!). As a family, we quickly established a daily routine which allows us to work independently while sharing moments that we usually wouldn’t in normal times. We cook together – new and challenging recipes – and then enjoy our al-fresco lunches and dinners."

"Chile has a wonderful coastline, so I will share one of my favourite recipes for spring and summer: ceviche, good for 4-6 people."

Delicious ceviche


1 kg of Chilean seabass, pomfret or any other white meat fish cut into cubes
1-2 medium-sized red onion(s) finely chopped
1 yellow pepper chopped into small cubes
½ green pepper chopped into small cubes
½ cup of finely chopped cilantro
½ cup of lemon juice (you can also mix lemon and lime) the juice of 1 or 2 oranges
1 teaspoon of grated ginger
1 tablespoon of chilli paste (Peruvian ají Amarillo works great!) or a little less if you are not a fan of spicy meals
Salt & pepper
Optional: 1 garlic clove (pressed)


1. Put the fish in a bowl and add all ingredients.

2. Mix and taste for seasoning. Add more orange or lemon juice if necessary. Cover and let the ceviche cool for 30 minutes or more before serving.

3. Serve with crackers, bruschetta style bread or toast. Enjoy with a Chilean Sauvignon blanc or any other fine white wine of the new world!

Paviter's Spicy Indian Chicken Curry

While many of you are sure to have your favourite places to secure a beef vindaloo or lamb rogan josh, here's your chance to master your own Indian curry using chicken, which right now is a much more affordable alternative to red meats. 

Paviter from our team in India has been using his time in lockdown to spend more time with his family, and they are loving his cooking. He shared a simple family favourite that his kids love – and he thought you may enjoy too. Many of the ingredients are available at the supermarket.


1 kilogram of chicken (sliced in bite-sized pieces)
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 lemon, juiced (optional)
2 onions
1 cup cashews
2 ½ cup water
3 red chillies (reduce if you don't like too spicy!)
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 tablespoon garlic paste
½ cup tomato puree
1 tablespoon garam masala powder
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 tablespoon kasoori methi powder (fenugreek leaves)
Fresh coriander leaves for garnish


1. Wash the chicken under running water and keep it aside. Take a non-stick pan and pour a little oil in it. Then add whole spices – cumin seeds, cinnamon seeds and a bay leaf. Let them cook until the seeds start to crackle.

2. Marinate the chicken with salt, turmeric powder and lemon juice (optional) and keep it aside for 20-30 minutes.

3. Using a grinder, grind the onion with 1 cup of water to make a puree of thick consistency and put aside until required. Wash the grinder and put cashews in it and add 1 cup of water. Make a paste of cashews of smooth consistency. Again, wash the grinder and grind red chillies with ½ cup of water to form a paste of thick consistency.

4. Take a saucepan and add onion puree with ginger and garlic paste into it and cook it for 2 minutes. Add the tomato puree to the pan and cook for another 2 minutes. Meanwhile, add salt to taste and red chilli paste, and cover the pan with a lid.

5. Add the marinated chicken pieces in the gravy and let it cook for more 15-20 minutes with the lid on the pan. After 15-20 minutes check if the chicken pieces are cooked properly. Now, add cashews and red chilli paste into the mixture and cook for another 2 minutes.

6. Add garam masala, coriander powder, cashew nut paste and kasuri methi and mix them all well. Let the chicken curry cook for another 5 minutes and then turn off the flame. Garnish the curry with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with steamed rice or paratha.

Make your own Sourdough Bread

Is there anything more satisfying for a cook than actually making your own bread? 

Isolated on a remote part of Vancouver Island, veteran Canadian outdoorsman Mark has been turning up the heat in the kitchen by trying his hand at homemade breads.

"I’ve been on a real ‘sourdough bread’ kick the last little while, though I’m cheating a bit by using yeast but... I’ve been using a recipe that sees the bread done in a day (no overnight rising) and the trick is to use warm/almost hot water when mixing with the flour."

Find the recipe Mark's been using here.

Ba chi rang chay canh (Vietnamese Edge-fried Bacon)

One of the splendid responses we received was from Ms Thuan in Hanoi, Vietnam. Not only has she been spending more time cooking herself, she's sharing her culinary knowledge with her children.

"For me personally, working at home gives me a chance to spend more time for my children, a 12-year-old and a 9-year-old. They are currently staying home for online courses instead of going to school. Now I have more time to cook for my family, which I usually can’t afford during weekdays. I even teach my children to prepare their favourite dishes, and they’re enjoying it very much. I also find myself in our garden every day, watering the crops and feeding the chickens during my breaks. At the corner of my garden, I have created a lovely working space that I’d like to share with you. I hope it can give you unique ideas for your space, and make you enjoy working at home as much as mine made me."

500g bacon
1 tablespoon oil
2 shallots
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon seasoning seeds
Green onions


1. Pour some oil to smooth out the pan and add the bacon. Flip the meat quickly to produce fat until edges of the meat turn reddish-brown. 

2. Add sliced shallots, 2 tbsp of fish sauce and 1 tbsp of seasoning seeds to the meat. Lower the heat and stir for a few minutes in order for the meat to absorb. 

3. Add some green onions, stir for several seconds and finish.

"Delicious and easy to cook, isn’t it? Here is a picture of my son cooking it yesterday"

Teaching the kids Mmmmmmm Ms Thuan in her garden Ms Thuan's garden The chickens

Bolivian Quinoa Croquettes

Our colleague Genoveva in La Paz, Bolivia has been dusting off her mother’s old book of recipes and enjoying cooking with friends online.

“I love the magic of seeing each other live on screens. You may like a typical Bolivian meal I’d like to share with you.”


1 cup quinoa
3 cups water
½ cup white rice
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons chopped parsley 
3 tablespoons chopped peppermint
2 teaspoons cumin
2 eggs
½ cup minced bread


1. Cook quinoa in a bowl with 2 cups of water and salt. 

2. Separately cook rice with 1 cup of water and salt, then mix the remainder of the ingredients together.

3. Mould the mixture with your hands to form compact croquettes.

3. Fry them up and serve with a side of salad and cooked potatoes and with whichever spicy sauce you like – in Bolivia we enjoy it with Llajua salsa. Enjoy!

Bobotie – The South African National Dish   

Craig from South Africa is enjoying spending more time with his young children – and cooking his favourite dish, which he assures us that anyone can try at home.

Pronounced ba-boor-tea, bobotie is a unique South African dish which could be described as a curried meat pie with sultanas It's hearty and wholesome and a great alternative if shepherds pie is a favourite in your household.

Get Craig's preferred Bobotie recipe here.

Spanish Churros

Angela from our marketing team in Australia is a bit of a dessert enthusiast. She shared a super easy churro recipe that only requires the most basic ingredients: flour, water and salt.

Pair your churros with a chocolate a la taza (rich hot chocolate) and it'll take you back to the streets of Madrid sitting outside a cafetería.

Crisp, sweet and simple. Chocolate con churros is served just about everywhere in Spain


250g of plain wheat flour
250ml of boiling water
2 pinches of salt
Vegetable oil
Caster sugar
Cinnamon powder
For the dipping sauce: chocolate of your choice to be melted with double cream and full-fat milk (optional)

Equipment needed: A churrera. If you don't have one, use a piping bag with a large star nozzle.


1. Sift flour in a mixing bowl while bringing the salted water to the boil. Pour the boiling water over the flour, mixing lightly with a spatula to create a compact dough – not soft or fluid.

2. Heat up enough oil in a pan or pot to cover the churros and bring it to a boil.

3. Using your churrera (or your piping bag), add your dough mix, taking care not to allow air pockets to form. 

4. Squeeze out the dough into a ribbon or cut your churro to your desired length and cook in the oil. Cook until golden and crisp.

5. Place cooked churros in a bowl of caster sugar and cinnamon powder mix. Serve hot. Dip in a chocolate sauce by melting 1 part chocolate with 1 part warm liquid (so ½ part cream and ½ part milk), mixing it in a heatproof bowl over boiling water. ¡Buen provecho!

British Cola Chicken

While working on her bucket list of things to do once out of lockdown, Laura from our Sherpa Van division in the UK is also busily getting on her Hesthon Blumenthal in the kitchen.

While Cola Chicken might raise the eyebrows, be assured it's Diet Cola, and Laura assures us that while it may sound unusual, it tastes delicious. There's never been a better time to try something different!


4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 red, 1 yellow and 1 green pepper, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 onion, finely chopped
330ml can diet cola
200ml hot chicken stock
8 tablespoons passata with onions and garlic
4 tablespoons tomato purée
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce/tamari
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
200g sugar snap peas


1. Spray a large non-stick pan with cooking spray and place over a high heat. Add the chicken, peppers and onion and stir-fry for 5-7 minutes, or until lightly browned.

2. Add the diet cola, stock, passata, tomato purée, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and herbs and stir well. Bring to the boil, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 12-15 minutes. 

3. Add the sugar snap peas, stir and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook for another 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the veg is tender.

Burmese Street Food Shan Noodles

Melissa and Tun from our Myanmar team have been keeping busy during self-isolation. Tun, who works in operations, has been creating a new online social project: "Our project helps villages and small communities that create hand-made souvenir or sustainable packaging for the souvenirs, such as bamboo woven boxes and gifts. That way local products will be available to international tourists, and the locals can get some income creating products at home and not having to travel out of their villages."

Whilst Mel, the general manager in Yangon, has been picking up some new skills: "I’m working on cross-stitching a map of Myanmar, each state a different colour, as a keepsake from my time here (in lockdown). I’ve started trying to learn to make local dishes since the ingredients for these are the most readily available at this stage. I’ve also signed up for both photography and French online courses."

A recipe Mel and Tun recommends anyone can try at home? Burmese Shan noodles – a fairly uncomplicated recipe with simple items most Asian supermarkets would carry. It's a dish that you would find in the east of Myanmar, a staple street food in the Shan state.

Try your hand at the recipe here.

Peter Kuruvita's Sri Lankan Ridged Gourd Curry (Watakolu vanjanaya)


This is one of the curries you would have in your rice and curry selection

This curry takes TV celebrity chef Peter Kuruvita back to his gramdmother's kitchen in Sri Lanka. Ridged gourd is a tropical, deep green coloured vegetable with taut skin. If you can't find this vegetable in your Asian grocery store, you can switch it out for any member of the gourd family to work with this curry.

The recipe serves 6 people and just takes 20 minutes to cook. Find the full recipe here.

Best walking books for the outdoor traveller

Walking is a transformative activity. It takes us places we never expect on the trail and in our minds. It’s what we’re made do and it’s one of the best mediums through which to understand who we are.

Well travelled author and curator at the National Museum of Australia Jono Lineen shares four novels that will inspire your own walking journey, whisk you into the mountains and fuel your dose for adventure with a pair of hiking boots.

None of these books are walking guides, they are stories of great personal change brought about by putting one foot in front of the other.

Wanderlust – Rebecca Solnit

Solnit’s masterpiece was the first book that made me realize that walking is much more than just about getting from A to B. In a way, it was the inspiration behind my last book Perfect Motion: How Walking Makes Us Wiser.

Solnit reminds us that walking is a thoughtful, spiritual even a revolutionary activity that can become an empowering and creative act.

The book moves from thinking to gardens, urban design to creativity, romantic poets to women’s rights, the politics of trespass to the symbolism of mountains, all on two feet.

Like a good long walk, it meanders and the fascination is in the details discovered on the way; at points, you wonder how you got there but you press on and on the next page, or the next, you see the destination.

Solnit combines her walking journeys with deep research into the breadth of an activity that we all take for granted. As she says, ‘exploring the world is one of the best ways of exploring the mind, and walking travels both terrains.’

Her love is with how walking makes us reconsider ourselves and our place in the world and this is the gift that readers can take away from the book.

If you like to walk, read, create and want to feel like you have agency in the world then Wanderlust is the book for you. It will encourage you to walk not as a tool for transportation but as a medium to change the way you think and act.

Rebecca Solnit: Wanderlust

The Salt Path – Raynor Win

The Salt Path is an incredible story of how Raynor Win and her husband Moth lose the family farm, he gets diagnosed with a terminal illness and with their options radically constrained they decide the best thing to do is walk the South Coast Path in England.

It’s a 630-mile trek, an admirable undertaking for any walker, but it turns out that Ray and Moth are in their mid-50s and haven’t done any serious walking in decades. They are completely broke and have to scrounge together the money to buy a second-hand tent and a sleeping bag. But somehow they do it and off they set.

One line from early on in the book struck me. Raynor said right at the start of their journey: ‘Excited, afraid, homeless, fat, dying but at least we made that first step, we had somewhere to go, we had a purpose.’ I love that fact that walking became the vehicle for their purpose. They turned their lives around by putting one foot in front of the other. All of sudden from being casualties of a series of tragic events they took back control of their lives. They had a purpose, a goal, a path and two feet to get them there.

This is a beautiful book that highlights that adventure is not just about Red Bull extremists jumping off cliffs it’s about the fact that everyone can make that leap into the unknown and in the chaos that ensues answers can evolve.

Daring to push ourselves to the limits. That’s what Raynor and Moth did and the results are a new life and a fantastic book.

Raynor Win: The Salt Path

Wild – Cheryl Strayed

In 1995, suffering from the loss of her beloved mother and the break up of her marriage and then a dangerous detour into heroin, Strayed hits rock bottom and decides she has to do something. The thing she decides to do is walk the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from California to Washington State.

Talk about turning your life around. Strayed is a woman of great fortitude because she had no hiking experience and starts the walk with a backpack that weighs about half her weight.

Over the first few weeks, she spends her time learning through trial and error and suffering physically. As with so many great stories, it’s a tale of transformation and over those months on the trail, she takes control of her life.

In one interview Strayed mentions that the most important line in the book for her is what her mother says: ‘I’ve never been in the driver seat of my own life, I’ve always been somebody’s daughter or mother, or wife.’

For Strayed the walk becomes a vehicle, walking the PCT enables her to pull away all the masks that she had imposed on herself.

At one point late in the trek, she sees herself in a mirror for the first time in weeks and wonders ‘whether I was a babe or a gargoyle.’ Strayed had to throw herself into the deep end and learn to swim and when she rose from depths she reached the wonderfully named Bridge of the Gods that crosses the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington she was someone new. Walking can do that for you.

Cheryl Strayed: Wild

The Snow Leopard – Peter Matthiessen

This is one of my favourite books of all-time. I remember first reading it 30 years ago, it was one of the main reasons I went to the Himalayas and it became an inspiration for my book Into the Heart of the Himalayas.

It’s the story of Matthiessen’s trek with wildlife biologist George Schaller to Crystal Mountain in the Dolpo region of Nepal. Matthiessen had recently lost his wife and had become deeply interested in Tibetan Buddhism. The trek was a chance for him to come to terms with the death and move more deeply into the practice of Buddhism.

Matthiessen records in stunning and poetic detail the Himalayan flora and fauna, it is a masterpiece of nature writing, but as with all great pieces of nature writing is multilayered.

We learn about the history, religion and culture of the region and the book reaches a higher level when Matthiessen delves into his personal life and the growing catalogue of difficulties that had pushed him to join Schaller in a trip to the ends of the earth.

The writing is beautiful, sparse and lucid which is exactly what you would expect from a noted practitioner of Zen Buddhism and when the party reaches the high valleys around Crystal Mountain, Matthiessen’s prose takes on the kind of clarity that those high, bright altitudes can induce.

I’m forever in debt to Peter Matthiessen for writing this book. It set a high bar for my expectations around my first days in the Himalayas but I’m happy to say that the region and more importantly the people lived up to the writer’s description, and my time in those mountains pushed my life in a new and exciting trajectory.

Peter Matthiessen: The Snow Leopard

About the writer
Jono Lineen has written three books focused on the Himalayas: River Trilogy, which looks at the Ganges, Into the Heart of the Himalayas, which recounts a 2700-kilometre solo trek he made from Pakistan to Nepal, and his latest bestseller Perfect Motion, which investigates the relationship between walking, creativity and human evolution.

Have a great walking book you'd recommend? Let us know in the comments below.

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