An easy walk that everyone will love! There’s lots to see and explore along the river. Lerderberg Grahams Dam Walk is just 3kms long and can be completed in under an hour. A quickie, but a goodie! Remote enough to escape the city with a lovely river and rock escarpment. This walk is uplifting and good for the soul.
Set near Melbourne’s’ orchard growing area of Bacchus Marsh, Lerderberg State Park has something for every hiker. There’s easy strolls, challenging and 3 day walks. All this variety just 1 hour and 10 minutes away from Melbourne. If you’re coming from the satellite city of Geelong, Lerderberg State Park is just 5 minutes longer, at 1 hour and 15 minutes driving time.
Check back later when we have completed the East Walk and Cowans Track Loop Walk, complete with European wasps and snakes! For now, we’ll stick to a child friendly walk.
What is there to see and Do on the Grahams Dam Lerderberg Park walk?
There is a river, which you will cross twice via some giant stepping stones. Hill top scenery overlooks the shimmering river and beautiful native forest, while traversing a sometimes rocky path.
The rocks in the area for keen geologists are composed of tillite, unformed glacial sediments from the Permian era. That’s really old! In addition to the tillite is glacial outwash sandstone and conglomerate. In essence you’re walking on millions of years old land!
The “bush” contains many plants native to Victoria. The yellow wattle is particularly beautiful. For a flora of Victoria guide, click here.
Where is the Grahams Dam walk?
The Grahams Dam walk is within the Lerderberg State Park. It is accessed by the flat picnic area called Mackenzie Flat Picnic area. You can’t miss the signs!
How long will the Grahams Dam walk take?
Under an hour’s return journey. Obviously, if you stop off for a swim and exploration at the shallow river bed, then longer.
Top Tips for the Grahams Dam walk
When to go: To see the river flowing and cross over the man made stepping stones, Winter and Spring are the best times to go. Otherwise it will be dry in Summer and Autumn.
Car Parks: You park at Mackenzies Flat Picnic Area car park.
There are picnic benches here and a big lawn area too.
Dog friendly: The park is dog friendly, but, unfortunately, this particular walk prohibits your canine friend. Sorry.
Provisions: If you’re planning on a swim in warm weather then a towel will be handy. You don’t really need water as the walk is under an hour, so, you can leave liquids in the car.
Sun protection: Take the usual precautions for the season and your skin type. Check the UV index on your phone.
Shoes: Hiking shoes are not necessary. You will get sand in your shoes, so if you choose to wear sandals, plan in advance. There are parts that you need to go steeply downhill, so shoes with grip are recommended. However, you can get by with running shoes like we did. We don’t recommend flip flops or thongs.
Mobile phone reception is very good to excellent.
Remember to check back soon, when we have completed other walks in the Lerderberg State Park.
Don’t forget if you have done this walk, we would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment in the section below.
Getting to and from Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi Airport Bangkok
Flying into or out of the Thai capital, Bangkok? Getting to Suvarnabhumi Airport from downtown or Don mueang needn’t be a nightmare. Don’t make rookie mistakes and get ripped off as soon as you land. Avoid being the farang (caucasians) who falls into every tourist trap. Whether you remain smiling in the Land of Smiles, depends on your airport experience.
Want to know how to get to Suvarnabhumi Aiport cheaply, or better still, for free?
Landed at the old airport, Don Mueang and thought you could walk to Suvarnabhumi Airport? Think aga01in. The two airports are no where near each other. You definitely cannot walk. Fear not, however, there is a free, very comfortable bus that transfers you between the two airports.
How to transfer between Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi Airport
Allow at least four hours between flights when you need to transfer between Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi Airport Bangkok. Don Mueang is mostly used by the low cost carrier Air Asia. Also Nok Air and Thai Lion Air, use Don Mueang, the old international airport for Bangkok.
After immigration you find yourself contemplating one of two options. You can get a taxi and pay 350 baht to 500 baht or you can get a free bus! If you do get a taxi, make sure you get a Grab Taxi, South East Asia’s answer to Uber.
We will now cover the free transfer service between Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi Airport Bangkok. The two airports are no where near each other. Don’t even think about walking so you can get a taste of the ‘real Bangkok’!
Get your passport stamped by immigration officials and head to Gate 6 on the same floor.
You cannot just get on the bus however, even if it is there. You must show your next flight either on a phone or paper to the person behind the counter. Sometimes they will need to see your passport too. Your hand gets stamped and then you may board the bus.
Frequency of the buses between Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi Airport
The bus runs every 12 to 30 minutes.
Everything is well signed and the buses run on time. There is even a live screen showing you where the current bus is and an estimated time of arrival. This screen is located just under and to the right of the Gate 6 sign.
Journey time between Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi Airport
We have heard of the journey taking up to 2 hours, but our journey was only 40 minutes.
The route is along an elevated tollway. Of course, you don’t need to pay anything. The whole service between Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airport is free of charge.
Inside the free bus between Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi Airport
Inside the bus it is very clean. Bring a jumper or jacket, the air conditioning is ferocious.
Inside the bus, there is plenty of space for luggage. The suitcases can be securely stored in robust metal cages. Bringing a surfboard or a golf bag isn’t a problem either. Our bus was quite empty. If there is a sudden rush we don’t know if standing room is allowed.
There are only 23 seats. Each seat has a seat belt! The seats are made of faux leather and are padded which make them quite comfortable.
Sitting up high you get a good view of the skyscrapers and concrete of Bangkok. If you have visions of temples and padi fields, you won’t see them on this journey between the two airports! Bangkok is a modern metropolis with continual construction projects.
All in all, a very impressive free service offered to passengers who need to transfer between Don Mueang and Suvarnabumhi Airport Bangkok. Naturally, the bus runs the reverse route!
Like many South East Asian airports, the shouting and hassle as soon as you exit can be down right frightening. If you’re travelling with children, beware! South East Asian taxi drivers may be small in stature, but, they are very, very persistent!
Hardened backpackers always head to the bus stops or the train station. Some travellers will have booked a transfer with their hotel. Others may book a more formal car, marketed as a limousine. In reality the Mercedes is just an expensive taxi ride. Might as well take a taxi. Forget Uber. Uber doesn’t exist in Bangkok. We always use Grab in South East Asia. Grab is the local alternative to Uber started by two Malaysians who were sick of the overcharging and drivers taking the ‘scenic’ route to make more money.
Our top tip for not getting ripped off is to download the app Grab, before you land. You can pay by cash or add a credit card. Grab, like Uber, has now expanded into food deliveries. The ride to downtown Bangkok is about 400 to 600 baht.
If you have time on your hands, by all means get a bus. Buses are cheap and some will have have fierce air conditioning. Others though will rely on windows for air conditioning! They are run by the company AOT. Fares are 35 baht to most downtown destinations. Getting a bus from downtown Bangkok is much more difficult. We don’t recommend it. Spend the money on a Grab ride share car instead. You don’t want to miss your flight.
Getting the train to and from Suvarnabhumi Airport
Your next option is to get the train. This can get very crowded, but, of course, you won’t run into any traffic. There are three trains to get you to downtown Bangkok. The airport link train has seats arranged in groups of 4, 2 facing each other. Train times and details can be found here
There is one express train to Phaya Thai station which connects with the BTS (elevated train system) with no stops – Phaya Thai Express Line
The Makkasan Express Line, you’ve guessed it, stops at Makkasan station.
The SA City Line to Phaya Thai station has 7 stops, Paya Thai, being the last.
Tasmania is famous for the Tasmanian devil, jaw dropping scenery and fantastic food.
The Tasmanian devil is a rather ugly looking marsupial. Unfortunately, it is now becoming rarer and rarer to see a Tasmanian Devil in the wild. Your best bet is to visit a conservation project.
Apart from the Tasmanian Devil, Tasmania is famous for food. The culinary delights of Tasmania stem from the fresh produce grown in pristine surroundings. It’s easy to find restaurants and cafes in stunning locations too. Tasmania is a foodie paradise.
Main land Australians and Tasmanians rate the cheese, salmon and beef in particular. There is a particular island that is even further than Tasmania, called King Island, where our favourite blue cheese is from. Fortunately, we don’t have to travel to Tasmania to get Roaring Forties cheese, it is widely available in all supermarkets and markets.
Tasmania is also famous for its rugged beauty. It has marvelous mountains and hills with lush green valleys and lakes. Think of trekking through pristine bushlands and ancient forests.
Crystal clear, freezing water and curved bays also fight for your attention. Spectacular views are waiting for you!
Where is Tasmania? Is it part of Australia?
Tasmania is part of Australia. There is a running joke that Tasmanians have two heads. We can confirm that they have one head. Tasmania is a separate state, not a separate country!
Best time to go to Tasmania
Tasmanian climate and weather
Tasmania has a temperate climate. It experiences 4 seasons. Tasmania’s weather is the opposite of northern Europe and northern America and Canada. When it’s Summer in Tasmania, it’s Winter in the northern hemisphere. When it’s Autumn in Tasmania, it’s Spring in the northern hemisphere. Tasmania is after all, ‘down under’ too.
Australians who live on the mainland, often joke that Tasmania is a separate country. The winters are milder than on the main land and the summers cooler. It rains a lot in Tasmania, which makes for lush green vegetation. The air is also much cleaner!
Right let’s get onto our unmissable 5 things to do in Tasmania list.
1 Trek the amazing Cradle Mountain Area
The walking tracks of Cradle Mountain are unmissable in our opinion. There’s something so peaceful and calming when you are surrounded by nature’s beauty. The shores of the lake are perfectly framed by the rugged hills. If you only trek one place in Tasmania, Cradle Mountain has to be on your list of 5 things you must do!
The walking paths are a mixture of boardwalks and off road trails.
Along some of the boardwalks you will see the cutest of marsupials, the wombat!
There are other walks to do in the Cradle Mountain area such as climbing the peak! But if you only do one, we recommend the Dove Lake Circuit.
2 Freycinet National Park and Wineglass Bay
Coming in at number 2, is trekking Freycinet National Park. You can cheat and go on a cruise from Coles Bay especially if you have come from Cradle Mountain! Or, you will have to do the hike to get that view. It’s a mere 5kms from Coles Bay!
For more information in general about the Freycinet area and a clearer map, click here.
3 Learn about life as a convict
Modern ‘white’ Australians are the descendants of convicts, soldiers and their families sent to Australia from England. There aren’t actually many people who can trace their ancestry back to the ‘First Fleet’ of convicts. It might be seen as a badge of honour nowadays if you could!
We went to two penal areas to see first hand the consequences of stealing food 200 years ago. Due to prison overpopulation in England it landed you on the other side of the world. The first ‘penal colony’ we went to is Sarah Island.
Sarah Island is all overgrown now with only ruins remaining.
Their package includes a rainforest walk and a boat cruise with lunch. Can’t say no to a bit of history, scenic views, a nature walk and food!
Another great place to soak up the atmosphere of life as a prisoner or soldier is Port Arthur. Port Arthur has a somewhat sobering more modern tragedy too. In 1996 a lone gun man went on a rampage and killed 35 people. An additional 23 people were wounded. After this terrible incident, gun laws were changed and now thankfully, it is extremely difficult for civilians to get any sort of fire arm. The National firearms Agreement has made Australia a safer place.
Port Arthur is now an open air museum. It has many fascinating and well preserved buildings. You can get a real taste of how harsh convict life was here.
People often forget that prisoners and guards lived side by side. In addition to this, food had to be grown and animals farmed for food. Today the grounds where apple orchards grow, the produce is used in the 1830 Restaurant and Bar.
Inside the buildings, you can see recreated cells, the governor’s house and many artefacts which have been preserved. Many people love trying on the chains and manacles (the keys are provided!). Port Arthur is a top tourist destination and a designated UNESCO World Heritage site.
Mona stands for the Museum of Old and New Art. Even if you don’t like art galleries you’ll like this one! It is so unique. We’ve never been anywhere like it. There are some confronting exhibitions, so, best to check beforehand, especially if you have children! Most people who have been to Mona have positive reviews. The exhibitions constantly change and are fascinating. It’s a really weird mix of aesthetic art. You’ll be using immersive technologies in some of the exhibitions and there’s never a dull moment. Often in the warmer months, there is free music on the extensive grounds.
Mona is definitely a conversation starter. You’ll either love it or hate it. Be warned that a lot of the museum is underground. Also many of the exhibitions are in confined spaces, with low lighting or strobe lighting! There’s no middle ground. The owner, David Walsh, wants his museum to stand out and it will certainly stay in your mind.
Don’t listen to us, go and see for yourself!
5 Salamanca Markets Hobart
You must time your visit to include a trip to the famous Salamanca Market in Hobart. The market opens on a Saturday at 8.30 am and closes at 3pm. Don’t miss it. It is a foodies’ and craft paradise. Many stalls sell leather goods and you can even buy shoes. The market starts outside Parliament Square and ends outside the art gallery.
A whole street is cordoned off and it’s pedestrians only. You can slowly wander from stall to stall, tasting and touching various goods. If you’re after new clothes or shoes that don’t come from a chain, head on down. There’s also jewellery and souvenirs to browse through. Hand made natural health and beauty products which are vegan friendly can also be bought at the Salamanca market.
Getting to Tasmania
Good news, there’s only 2 options! You will be flying or coming by sea. There’s no bridge you can drive from the Australian mainland from! For us, even though our Melbourne base is only a 2 minute drive to the ferry port, it is sometimes cheaper to fly and then hire a car.
Getting around Tasmania
Your best option is to hire a car, or bring your car on the ‘Spirit of Tasmania’ ferry from Melbourne. Public transport is not great outside the cities of Hobart, Launceston and Devonport. There are some limitations on narrow paths for camper vans and larger vehicles, such as mobile homes.
How long do I need?
You’ll probably want at least 10 days to cover the Only1invillage essential top 5 list. If you’re a hiker, you can easily spend 3-5 days in Cradle Mountain alone.
Here is our review of this shiny and modern lounge. Bangkok Miracle first class lounge is one you can pay for. Contrary to its name, it is not for first class passengers. Will water get turned into wine? How miraculous is the lounge? Read on to find out!
This lounge is part of the Collinson Group. The Collinson Group introduced the Priority Pass Program which basically allows anyone on any airline, regardless of travelling class, to use their network of lounges. The maximum time you can spend in here is 2 hours. Compare what you get in a fee paying lounge to other business class lounges directly affiliated with airlines such as Emirates, British Airways and Qantas.
Before entering, we expect it to be a bit like the American Express lounges in size and facilities offered. It is way fancier than an American Express lounge. Keep reading to find out why!
After passport control you go up to Level 3. The Bangkok Miracle first class lounge is located opposite gate D6. It is well signed, so you will be able to find it easily.
Our next flight is to Dubai via Emirates in economy class. Yes, we fly economy too! We don’t get to go to the Emirates business class lounge in Bangkok, unfortunately.
Bangkok Miracle First Class lounge dress code
There doesn’t seem to be any particular dress code enforced. However, be careful to cultural sensitivities in many countries.
Who can Get In
Anyone who has joined the Priority Pass Program and their guests! You can book a slot online or just go from lounge to lounge to see which one has space during busy periods.
The lounge is a good size. There is a variety of comfortable padded armchairs for lounging in and harder chairs at dining tables. They come in a variety of colours, textures and comfort levels.
The armchair style chairs have a small coffee table in front of them. You can bring your finger food and drinks to these areas. As usual, the tables are way too small to fit much onto them. However, most people aren’t travelling in large groups and you can always put two tables together, if the need arises.
When you walk past the seating area, in the picture above, you come to the dining area. There is a long dining bench to eat. If you prefer looking at your dining companion, there are smaller square tables with 4 chairs around each table.
If you turn left, when you come in there is another area of various seating available arranged in mini zones.
There’s a business area with a long communal desk with charging points. It’s at the back of the lounge.
Bathrooms and Showers
It’s shower time! There are two showers in the Bangkok Miracle lounge.
They are quite new, so still shiny and clean. The soap is of an unidentified brand. If you’re fussy or have sensitive skin, we recommend you bring your own.
Food and Beverages
Most business class lounges change their food according to the time of the day. We visit at 4pm so in between lunch and dinner time. There’s a reasonable variety of hot and cold choices, including some unique Thai food. However, there are breakfast items available. This is probably because the lounge wants to provide a 24 hour menu.
The food is rather reminiscent of an American Express Lounge. It is not quite up to the standard of an airline lounge like Emirates, Singapore Air or Cathay Pacific. The food selections however, are better than an American Express lounge. Plus, there is the added benefit of made to order dishes.
There’s no made barista made coffee, instead it’s a machine which whips up your latte or capuccino. Tea consists of a heated water jug and various caffeinated and herbal tea bags for you to choose from. If you need milk, there is milk in the fridge.
You do however get to order a selection of dishes, made freshly upon request. They are quite small, but, if you’re hungry, you can order more than one!
The best part of the Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge is the made to order little dishes. We say little, because they really are small! You can order two at a time and they come out of the kitchen with lightning rapidity!
We really want to try everything but feel bloated so we only get the won ton soup to share.
There is a selection of hot food in the silver serving dishes with lids.
There are 5 hot dishes on offer. The most colourful dish is below. The range and taste of food is good. There are western and eastern options.
Throughout the lounge there are sweet and savoury treats. There are some wrapped foods, presumably so you can take them away.
There are two sides to the lounge and the food on both sides is the same. You can only get the freshly made dishes however, on the dining room side.
The fridges contain the usual soft drinks, like, Coca Cola and Sprite, water and beer.
There is one red and one white wine offering. The hard liquor consists of familiar worldwide brands you can buy in the supermarket. It’s make your own and help yourself time!
The hot drinks selection is tea and coffee.
There is no bubble tea, which is a current craze in soft drinks. Basically it’s milky sweet tea with tapioca pearls in it. Know any lounge that serves this kind of tea? If you do, let us know. Maybe in Taiwan, where it originates from?
Wi-fi and Charging Points
If you get a wall seat, there are sockets in the wall by the armchairs. If you don’t, don’t panic! Look down at your feet and you will find charging points in the floor. The wi-fi did not seem to work in the lounge and we were too busy eating and taking photos to ask someone!
About the Collinson Group and Priority Pass
The Collinson Group is behind the huge network of airport lounges across the globe, that you can pay for. They have approximately 1300 lounges worldwide. They claim that their lounges ‘transform the airport experience from an endurance test to a moment of indulgence’. We can certainly agree with the sentiment of endurance when you fly economy class.
The idea of getting away from the noise and crowds of airport terminals for the masses is great. Whichever airline you fly with, you can gain access into one of these lounges by paying for each visit or if your membership allows, gratis.
Priority Pass membership rates
Here’s how much it will cost you to get into a Priority Pass Lounge.
There are three membership tiers: standard, standard plus and prestige.
Each tier gets more expensive as you would expect. Everything is priced in US dollars and converted back to your local currency when you join.
Standard yearly membership is $99 USD. Each time you want to use a Priority Pass Lounge you pay USD $32 and so does your guest.
Standard Plus yearly membership is $299 USD. You get ten free visits per year and thereafter $32 USD and so does your guest. Note, your guest doesn’t get 10 free visits!
Prestige annual membership is $429 USD. Every time you visit a Priority Pass Lounge, it’s free for you! Your guest pays, you’ve guessed it $32 USD to join you.
About Suvarnabhumi International Airport
Suvarnbumphi is a huge airport in Bangkok, the Thai capital. The airport itself is quite new. It was completed in 2006. Suvarnabhumi airport is all glass and metal, a shiny modern mega building. Previous to this, Don Meuang Airport was the international hub for flights into and out of the City of Angels. Yes, to Thai people ‘Krungthep’ is the city of angels. Only foreigners call Bangkok, by the name, well, Bangkok.
Flights still land and take off from Don Meuang. Notably the low cost carrier Air Asia still uses Don Meunag International. The ‘new’ Suvarnabhumi Airport has a direct sky train link to Phaya Thai station which is on the co- constructed German – Thai built sky rail (BTS – Bangkok Transit System). You can also get a free transit bus between Don Meuang and Suvarnbumphi.
Here’s a summary of what you get and what you don’t in the Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge.
You are on limited time. You can stay for a maximum of 2 hours only. However, we stayed longer and no one asked us to leave!
It’s quite a large and spacious lounge with some seats overlooking the main terminal. This means you can hear all the noise of the people at the gates nearby. But, that also means, there is an occasional plane to look at.
You get some natural light and free wi-fi.
There’s a shower if you need to freshen up.
What you don’t get is gourmet food. Don’t expect the food to be up to the standard of a ‘real’ business class lounge. However, the food is quite decent.
You also don’t get premium alcohol and barista made coffee. All in all, it’s a decent offering and a space to get away from the crowds in the main terminal building (even though you can see people through the glass!)
Magnificent Magnetic Island and all its attractions
You’ll be blown away by the many attractions of Magnetic Island. No pun intended! This is possibly Australia’s best kept secret for a tropical island. Easy to get to and offering a vast amount of natural beauty, we tell you what to see, when and where to go, on this stunning gem, Down Under.
Magnetic Island is located in North Eastern Australia. The closest big city is Townsville. It is a jumping off point for the Great Barrier Reef. A clear favourite destination for Australians who live in the city of Townsville. Magnetic Island lures in international and local Aussies by the hundreds of thousands. Known as ‘Maggie’ to the locals in Australian Slang – once you go, you’ll want to go back for more!
Magnetic Island belongs traditionally to the Wulgurukaba people. In is called Yunbenun.
Is it really magnetic?
Well, the story goes that Captain Cook observed some ‘magnetic effect’ on his compass as he was sailing by. Scientists can’t agree if it has any more magnetic pull than any other island in Australia. What is clear, though, is that Magnetic Island has many attractions! You won’t be repelled or repulsed!
Things to do on Magnetic Island
Walking and Hiking on Magnetic Island
Magnetic Island is just full of beautiful walks and hiking trails. If you love hiking and getting rewarded with great views, you’re in luck. There are over many secluded bays and hills to discover. The natural scenery is just breathtaking. This is one of the best ways to explore this beautiful island. So, lace up those shoes and let’s get going!
The walks and trails on Magnetic Island range from seriously easy to fantastically difficult. There is no drinking water available, except at The Forts Walk, so you must carry all your supplies. Don’t get caught out! Remember to always tell someone where you’re going if you set out on a long hike.
Most walks you can do in hiking sandals or running shoes. You don’t really need hiking boots. Thongs or flip flops are not recommended as there is lots of uneven ground and rocks to stub your toes on. Also lots of the paths turn sandy, and it’s annoying getting sand and small stones under your feet. However, you can manage most walks wearing thongs or flip flops, if you don’t have any other shoes.
The walking tracks and hikes on Magnetic Island, offer splendid views. In addition, you’ll see native wildlife and the Australian Bush. Below we sort the walks into easy and moderate. Depending on your level of fitness you may find the moderate walks difficult.
There is also a paper version of this map, which has more up to date walks and a bit more information on what you’ll see, along the way. We refer to use the paper map and we did every single walk on it! You can pick up a copy of this map at the ferry terminal.
Easy Walks on Magnetic Island
Picnic Bay to WestPoint- 16kms return (5hrs)
This really is an easy walk on flat sealed road. This is labelled as walk number W3 on the paper map.
The road is not really picture worthy. It’s a black road with some trees and grass on either side. There’s no path, so when you hear the occasional car coming, move aside!
But, the beach is very beautiful, if isolated. We had a bit of an accident and dropped the phone on the way. We were not able to fix the phone to get our own shot of the beach.
Horseshoe Bay Lagoon- 200ms return (15mins) – official time according to somebody.
Labelled as W9 on the paper map above. We are glad to report it is easy and it only takes 15 minutes.
This is an easy one to miss! It is not very well signed at all. We went down the wrong road and it took us 40 minutes to realise we were going nowhere! Here is the correct way to go. As you walk along the road to Horseshoe Bay, go past the Koala Bay Village. Before you see this road sign,
Then you need to look out for two large rocks!
We turn left at Henry Lawson Street and walk until it becomes a sand path. Don’t do this, it’s the wrong way to the Lagoon Walk, off Horseshoe Bay Road!
On the boarwalk get your camera out for blue butterflies, blue kookaburras and a crocodile.
Depending on the season, the lagoon can look a bit dry.
Hawkings Point Track – 1.2kms return (1hr)
Labelled as walk number W2 on the paper map. This isn’t that easy if you’re not that mobile or agile as it starts with steep steps. Yes, it’s a short walk, but, it’s all up hill. When you get to the top of a huge granite boulder, you’re finished. The views are spectacular. You’ll be looking over Picnic Bay, Rocky Bay, Nelly Bay, Geoffrey Bay and even back towards Townsville!
Start the walk at the end of a residential street called Picnic Street in Picnic Bay.
We always seem to be walking when it’s hot and sunny! Magnetic Island has over 320 days of sunshine, so a cloudy day would be strange!
When you get back down, take a walk along the Picnic Bay Jetty you can see from the top of Hawkings Point Track.
Gabul Way – Nelly Bay to Arcadia 1.5kms return (0.5hour)
We are glad to report that this is an easy walk as advertised. It is a little misleading however as the walk starts after Geoffrey Bay, not Arcadia. This is the easier way to do it. There is an elevated walkway which runs alongside the busy road. It is flat if you start at Geoffrey Bay and gently rises as you progress. After you see a spectacular house on the corner on your left, it’s road only. Time to turn back.
Horseshoe Bay to Balding Bay and Radical Bay- 3.2kms return (1.5hrs)
This walk is labelled W8 on the paper map and W7 on the electronic version. It is definitely labelled incorrectly. If you don’t carry water, don’t stop to take photos and don’t trip on rocks, then, sure, you can do this walk in 1.5 hours! We walked first to Balding and then Radical as suggested. It isn’t going to take you 1.5 hours, unless you’re a top mountain runner! Also you’ll want to cool off at the nudist beach at Balding Bay!
After a quick swim in the cold water, we feel refreshed to continue on to Radical Bay. You go back up the same steep steps and go past the ‘nude beach’ rock again.
The sand isn’t quite as yellow at Radical Bay, more a yellow/brown. There are also larger stones. Like most natural Australian beaches, there is little shade. If you’re going to make a day of Radical or Balding Bay, we recommend you bring a beach tent or umbrella. The water is cold and refreshing. As you can see in the picture, Radical Bay is quiet.
Unnamed walk – 1km – 30 mins
This walk doesn’t have a name. It starts at Picnic Bay. It is above the walk named W2 on the paper map. It’s a quick, steep walk with you guessed it, superb views over Rocky Bay.
Forts Walk- 4kms return (1.5hrs)
If you don’t stop to read the interesting placards and you never take a photo, you can do this walk in the advertised time. This is THE place to spot the koalas! We saw 9 on our walk and are happy to report, as far as reincarnation goes, we’re coming back as koalas. The cute fur balls sleep for over 20 hours a day! Now that’s a goal to aspire to! Just kidding, we would never travel far, if we slept that long.
Start the walk at the Forts car park. The one bus stops here. It’s quite a difficult walk not in distance, but in gradient. There are lots of steps too.
It is labelled as ‘moderate’ on the paper map and number W6. In our opinion, if you’re not fit, you’ll find this walk difficult. You can do this walk in 1.5 hours if you are fit and don’t stop. Otherwise, it’s more like 2 or 2.5 hours.
The walk starts on a flat path.
Keep going and keep your eyes peeled for the koalas.
When you can tear yourself away from the koala spotting, continue on your history lesson about Magnetic Island’s involvement in WWII.
When you get to the top of the ruins of the Forts complex, this is where the fabulous views start. Persevere to the top. The stunning views at the top are worth it.
Of course there’s also the ruins of buildings and the giant gun emplacement to see. There are no gun remains and there is an interesting story about where all the ammunition went after WWII.
Congratulations you have reached the top of the nerve centre of one of the forts! Stop to take in the fabulous views. Bring a few snacks and scramble up the rocks behind this picture to take a well deserved break. The way back to the car park will seem easier as it’s all downhill! Tick off walk number W6 on the paper map.
Nelly Bay to Arcadia- 5kms one way (1.5hrs) Grade moderate
This is walk number W4 on the paper map. It’s pretty steep in places. It starts with a steep hill climb and it keeps going.
This is the most deserted walk we did. We only saw 5 other people on this walk. You start this walk by going down Mandalay Avenue, a street with houses on it. It’s on the corner of the Scallywags Cafe. When you get to the end of the road you see the sign for the walk to Arcadia. You cannot do it in the advertised time unless you run – non-stop – all the way.
After an hour and half, we reach the half way point. We stop to catch our breath and admire the view. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water. There’s no where to fill up your water bottle on this walk.
There’s a few hopeful signs along the way as you sweat through. Thankfully now the path to Arcadia is down hill!
It takes a total of 3 hours for Only1invillage to complete this walk. Pfft to the 1.5 hours, who wrote that?
Tracks to Florence, Arthur and Radical Bays from the Forts car park
Arthur Bay-2km return (30mins) This is doable in 30 mins. Very steep non gravel road. Can get slippery if wet.
Florence Bay-3.6km return (1hr) This walk continue on from the walk above on the same unpaved road with massive pot holes.
Radical Bay-6km return (2hrs) This is accurate time. It starts downhill. Be prepared for the return up the steep road.
Searchlight Tower-3.7km return (1hr) You can do this walk in 1 hour.
Horseshoe Bay via Radical Bay-7.5km one way (2hrs) This is a realistic time for most people to walk one way.
Swimming, snorkelling and diving
The water is cold around Magnetic Island. It is definitely refreshing! It can be quite wavy at some of the beaches. The calmest beaches for swimming and ones with Surf Life Savers on patrol are Horseshoe Bay and Arcadia.
The clearest snorkelling spots are Arthur Bay, Florence Bay and the marked trail in front of the Base Backpackers. Geoffrey Bay is unbelievably murky and bordering on dangerous. You can barely see your own hand. At low tide, it is extremely difficult to get out past the sharp coral at Geoffrey Bay. We can’t comment on the snorkelling clarity in the Northern bays as these are only accessible by boat. If you’ve been to Maud, Norris or Joyce Bay, get in touch!
Native Australian wildlife and Flora
Magnetic Island is famous for its koalas! See the biggest group of koalas in the wild here! Boasting over 800 koalas in the wild, Magnetic Island is the place to see these cuddly fur balls. You can get really close to them and they don’t wake up! We saw 9 in one walk!
Magnetic Island Rock Wallabies – Feed the tame wallabies! These cute little relatives of kangaroos are best fed in Geoffrey Bay. You should not actually feed them, but, if you must, they like carrots and paw paw.
If you must feed them, please consult this list.
Endangered Curlews – These rather plain birds have the most interesting call. They sound like they’re screaming and whining, it can be quite off putting. Some people call it haunting. We call it downright weird!
Marine Life around Magnetic Island
The marine life, if you can see it, is not bad! It’s the murkiness of the water that you have to contend with. We don’t rate Magnetic Island as a top snorkel or dive destination. You are better off going to the Great Barrier Reef. However, for some free snorkelling, Florence Bay and Nelly Bay (the trail near Base Backpackers) are reasonable. The coral is a bit grey in colour and there are a few colourful fish to spot.
Some parts of Arthur Bay have some coloured staghorn coral. On the day we visit, there are a few bright fish around.
Magnetic Island Beaches
There are over 23 Magnetic Island beaches and bays to visit. Some are very easy to access, just off the main road. Other beaches are an hour’s hike on rugged paths. All Magnetic Island beaches are picturesque and rugged. Many of them are curved. The sand is generally a little course, although some have fine sand. Below we have photos of nine of the most popular Magnetic Island beaches.
Sand quality – rough yellow brown coarse sand. Water – not clear, but warm enough.
Alma Bay Beach in Arcadia
Picnic Bay Beach
This is the end of the line for the one bus. Or it can be the beginning of the line. All ferries used to drop passengers off here. This is the beach you can see from Hawkings Point Lookout.
Arthur Bay Beach
Florence Bay Beach
Located in between Gowrie Bay and Arthur Bay. Florence Bay is another beautiful curved beach on Magnetic Island for you to discover. This is a marine national park area. No fishing allowed. This is a good spot to go snorkelling, with some colourful reef. The water clarity is good.
Cockle Bay Beach
A very small beach that is often wet. There is a shipwreck to swim out to but is quite difficult to locate.
Nelly Bay doesn’t have a beach since it is the ferry terminal bay. Nelly Bay is more of a harbour. But, to the right of Nelly Bay is a huge strip of beach where turtles have been spotted.
When is the best time to Visit Magnetic Island?
Magnetic Island Weather
Magnetic Island has a dry tropical climate! With 320 days of sunshine per year, it seems it is always a good time to go to Maggie. As with all tropical places, Magnetic Island has a wet and a dry season. The biggest factor to consider for the best time to go to Magnetic Island is the jellyfish season.
As Australia is blessed with at least 60 deadly and toxic animals, you don’t want to be the tourist making the headlines! Stingers, or jellyfish, like to take a nibble on humans between November and April. Magnetic Island is not a great Christmas destination! The best time time to visit Magnetic Island is April to October. It is cooler but not much wetter, since it doesn’t rain much.
There are hardly any mosquitoes on Magnetic Island! C is always the first to get bitten by a mosquito, they just love her blood! On Maggie Island though, the biting is far less severe than other tropical places, we have visited.
How to get to Magnetic Island?
The Magnetic island ferry is the only way to get to Magnetic Island!
If you’re driving, you need to take a different ferry.
Inside the ferry, it’s nice and spacious. There are comfortable and clean seats in an air conditioned space inside.
The Sea Link Magnetic Island Ferry even runs on Christmas Day! It’s a smooth easy 20 minute cruise on a very comfortable catamaran. You can even bring your mountain bike! There are at least 12 crossings a day from Townsville and vice versa. Book online for a $4 discount.
What we love about the ferry to Magnetic Island – It’s easy to find the terminal. There are frequent trips across the water. The journey only takes twenty minutes. It’s a clean, modern ferry service. You’ll have free wi-fi onboard and at the ferry terminals, both in Townsville and Magnetic Island. A bus connects you at both terminals to all the major places of interest.
Top tip for tourists and Australians – buy the Entertainment book for Townsville. This gives you 25 per cent off the return ticket price for 4 adults. Also there are vouchers for 4 places to eat on Magnetic Island. In the Townsville section, there are over 100 discount vouchers for places like Reef HQ and the museum. Many dining establishments ranging from cafes to restaurants also honour the vouchers. You can even get an e copy of the Entertainment Book.
Getting around Magnetic Island
Magnetic Island car hire
You can hire a sedan, four by four or a special ‘topless’ car. Going topless is optional!
Many of the roads are un-passable off the bus route, so you may not need to hire a car. If you do want to get to the bays, we recommend a 4 by 4 as some of the pot holes are quite deep!
The bus – Route 250 by Sunbus
There’s only 1 bus that goes to all the major bays on Magnetic Island. The bus is crowded at times and there’s no space for luggage. Actually, one bus had a luggage crate, but otherwise, the bus driver will tell you to put your cases on the back steps of the bus. It only has regular seats. All seats face forwards in pairs. Click here for the one and only bus timetable.
You’ll never get lost on the bus, because it only goes 2 ways – to and from Picnic Bay to Horseshoe Bay. The only thing that may confuse people is at Arcadia Beach there is only one bus stop for both directions. At Arcadia Beach you will see on the bus timetable that the bus is labelled HB or PBJ. HB stands for Horseshoe Bay as the destination and PBJ for Picnic Bay (Jetty). The bus does a U turn to pick u up if it is coming from Horseshoe Bay!
You still stick you arm out at the bus stop to get the driver to stop. You can buy your single, one day or weekly ticket when you get on the bus. The bus runs every hour only, so make sure you get to the bus stop in advance. You don’t want to miss it.
Taxis and Uber
We spotted only 2 taxis! A shuttle bus type taxi that can seat 10 people and a Toyota Corolla.
Uber is operating apparently, but we could never get a car! There is a business opportunity in the making!
Where to stay on Magnetic Island
Magnetic Island accommodation
There is a wide range of accommodation on Magnetic Island. Serviced apartments, houses and hotel rooms. There are some bed and breakfast places, a few backpackers and airbnb to choose from. A lot of hotel rooms are privately owned in the GrandMercure Apartments in Nelly Bay. You will find many of these rooms advertised on Airbnb.
Magnetic Island is not a cheap destination. You don’t get bargain prices except at hostels like the Bungalow Bay Koala Village, in Horseshoe Bay. This is a YHA hostel. Prices for a dorm bed start at around 30 AUD. They also have private A frame bungalows, some with their own bathroom. The best thing about staying here is that you will see koalas every day! Non guests can pay to have ‘breakfast with the koalas’.
Clusters of places to stay are Horseshoe Bay, Nelly Bay, Picnic Bay and Arcadia. There are a few Airbnb options in West Point, a ‘remote’ part on the western side of Magnetic Island.
If you are travelling in a big group and need a whole house, at short notice, local estate agents will have a list of available properties. It’s still a good idea to book in advance though!!
The food on Magnetic Island
Unfortunately it’s quantity over quality on Magnetic Island. Portions are generous, but taste is not like you would find in the big city restaurants. There is one exception, the pub in Horseshoe Bay, which serves up a really decent braised beef cheeks and mash.
Noodies Mexican – Horseshoe Bay
Sandis on the Beach at Horseshoe Bay. Yes, we ate mostly at Horseshoe Bay, The seafood platter was OK, not great value at 80AUD. A restaurant serving Modern Australian fare. That means seafood dishes, pasta and steak.
Barefoot Art Food Wine at Horseshoe Bay was recommended by locals. The starters are impressive. The mains, unfortunately lacked taste. Great garden and balcony though, for scenic dining. Friendly service too.
Scallywags – Nelly Bay
Another recommendation that we do not recommend. Great friendly service but, sorry, the food was awful. The beefburgers were like frozen cheap patties that you might feed your dog. Maybe the breakfast is good, but, we went for dinner. It really is a case of quantity over quality. The burger is huge, but, the taste, yuk. They do have BYO (bring your own) and a bicycle you can use to go and get the booze from the supermarket, down the road.
Picnic Bay Hotel
This pub, hotel and bar is an all in one Australian classic. Recently refurbished with great views over Picnic Bay. They serve classic pub fare at good prices and an unbelievable special which we couldn’t bypass.
Naturally, being a pub, it’s open every day of the week! They also have a very large aquarium where you can find Nemo and Dory together! After a long day’s walking, it is a great pit stop and the bus stop is just outside too.
Only1invillage dedicates this whole page to the breathtaking and colourful marine life you will see when diving in Malaysia. The Malaysian coral reef is teeming with life. You will see an amazing variety of colourful hard and soft corals. Swimming around them are plenty of turtles, sharks, sting rays, parrot fish and an abundance of other marine life.
Malaysia is an unknown diving and snorkelling paradise. If you love clown fish, you will find it particularly rewarding. We’re talking many different types of clown fish, not just the orange and white one called Nemo! If you love these fish check out our related post here.
Diving in Malaysia
Parts of Malaysia that Only1invillage visits, rivals the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.
Giant clams, clown fish, turtles, black tip reef sharks, giant wrasse and angel fish are common sightings in Malaysian waters.
Not only that, but Malaysia has white sand beaches to rival those of the Maldives! Don’t believe us? Click here to see some beach pics of our Malaysian travels to islands of paradise. Our top 2 diving and snorkelling destinations don’t even need a boat to get out to the reef from the shore.
We are not kidding. The following pictures of the marine life have all been taken within a 100 metres from the shore.
We reveal why you must make Malaysia your next underwater adventure. We will tell you where the easiest spots for beginners are. How to get there and the best time to go.
How expensive is diving in Malaysia?
Snorkelling and diving in Malaysia are a quarter of the price compared to Australia and most other western countries.
1 dive with full tank and all equipment is around 140 to 150 Malaysian Ringitt. (Around 55 AUD, 28GBP, 35USD and 32EUR)
2 dives with full tank and all equipment is 260 to 270 Malaysian Ringitt.
A recent trip to the Great Barrier Reef for 2 dives cost us 350 AUD! (185GBP, 240USD and 215EUR). You can go diving in Malaysia 4 times for the price of 1 dive in Australia.
If you decide to do your PADI certification, some places offer free accommodation. It is still about a third of the price of getting certified in the West.
Is diving in Malaysia safe?
Diving in Malaysia is very safe. Tanks, wet suits, flippers and masks are well maintained.
The boats you travel on vary from 8 people boats to dozens (for snorkelling).
What marine life will I see when diving in Malaysia?
Turtles are very common in Malaysian waters, especially on the Eastern coast. You often don’t need to dive to see turtles off Redang and the Perhentian Islands. The turtle below hangs out just 50 metres off the beach in Redang. He, or she, often takes a lunch break between midday and 2 pm!
If this is a female turtle, she will return to this beach and lay her eggs. Turtles are known as the navigators of the sea. They are cute and need space. Please don’t stress them by chasing after them, or, swim too closely. Admire them from a distance and use your zoom, please!
We like this guide that helps us identify the many fish we see. For photo identification, we found this site useful. It’s also one of our favourite Malaysian island destinations, Redang.
How does diving in Malaysia compare to nearby Thailand and Indonesia?
The reefs, corals and marine life are far superior to those of Thailand and Indonesia. Also, on a recent trip to the Great Barrier Reef we found that the health of the corals and the marine life are very similar.
Best time to go diving in Malaysia
The dry season will offer the clearest visibility. After it rains, visibility is always reduced for divers and snorkellers. The dry season on the NE side of Malaysia is April to July. The dry season on the NW side of Malaysia is November to March. This is very similar to popular Phuket and Krabi in Thailand.
Best diving spots in Malaysia
Sipidan – Difficult to get to though and has had some safety concerns recently.
Borneo – Half of Borneo is shared with Indonesia. You can also visit orangutans after you have had enough of beautiful marine life.
Perhentian, Lang Tengah and Rawa Islands – Easy to get to and day trips possible from Perhentians to Lang Tengah and Rawa Island.
Redang – Our personal favourite island to go diving from.
Tioman – An East coast contender. Best time to go diving is March to May.
Langkawi IS NOT a good diving spot. There is no diving around Langkawi itself. You have to go to a marine park called Pulau Payar. The west coast of Malaysia is not as good as the East coast for diving.
There’s more than one type of clown fish. Discover the amazing variety in our clown fish special!
Clown fish species and their anemone a special report!
There are over 50 different types of clown fish. They can be tiny and grow to quite a large size! They’re not all orange and white like in the film, Finding Nemo. Some are black, some are yellow and some are even red! On our various travels, we have been lucky enough to snorkel and dive in some clownfish hot spots.
Unfortunately to see them, you’re going to have to travel. We see the most clownfish in Malaysian waters. The clear, calm, warm waters, make it a pleasure to float over these cute and colourful underwater dwellers.Hot spots closest to Europe are the Red Sea in Egypt. Some travellers we met recently said Turkey was good. J dived in Mexico off the Yucatan Peninsula. In Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is of course the place to go. Asian hot spots are Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. For the Americas, it’s Carribean waters and Mexico. The Indian Ocean also provides opportunities near the Seychelles, Madagascar and Maldives.
Clown fish have a symbiotic relationship with anemone, the floaty looking algae that clings to corals and rocks on the ocean and sea floor.
Lots of the anemone can be spotted, with their clownfish in these hard corals. Shaped like round ‘fish bowls’ they are a spectacular sight of bright purple, red, blue or green.
Adult clownfish are classified depending on their colour patterns.
Group one – No vertical stripe.
Group two – one vertical stripe on the head.
Group three – two vertical stripes (one on the head, the other on the body).
Group four – three vertical stripes (one on the head, one on the body trunk, and the last one on the peduncle).
The scientific name is Amphiprioninae – that’s quite a mouthful. We’ll stick with clown fish!
The anemone that clownfish live in have poisonous tentacles but, they don’t affect the clownfish. The poisonous tentacles are to ward off other predators and protect the clown fish. Clownfish are not just cute, they’re smart too! They lure other fish towards the anemone with their beautiful, bright colours. The anemone then eats the other fish with its poisonous tentacles. Great teamwork!
If a clown fish is born male, he has the potential to become a female as an adult! The biggest male in a large group will become female.
Male clownfish cannot change back to female after the change has happened.
Male clown fish look after the fertilised eggs.
All clown fish are hermaphrodites. That means they are all born male and have the ability to develop into females, as an adult.
Girl power – all clownfish groups are led by a dominant female.
Clown fish live in groups in outer reefs and sheltered lagoons.
Like all animal species, there is a hierachy of dominant male and female clown fish. The older the clown fish pair, the more dominant they are!
Size matters! The bigger you are, the more dominant you are in your social group.
Male clownfish can get aggressive at spawning time. They will bite the female!
Female clownfish can lay thousands of eggs at a time. Yes, more clownfish in the seas and oceans!
Eggs that are not fertilised or are damaged, get eaten by the male!
Clownfish like warm waters, but they can thrive in cooler waters too. By cool, we mean for the humans. On a lot of the Great Barrier Reef, you will need to wear a wet suit. The water is quite cool, about 20 to 21 degrees celcius.
On a recent trip to the Great Barrier Reef, we saw the orange and sky blue clownfish. You don’t need to dive to see this fish on the Great Barrier Reef. Most people on the day trip were snorkellers. Sometimes you get lucky snorkelling, as the snorkellers saw, a rare sighting of a single bumphead parrot fish. The divers on this trip to the Lodstone Reef, two hours from Townsville, did not. As with everything in Australia, it is huge!
What are you waiting for? Strap on that snorkel mask or wiggle your way into your wet suit and let’s make find some more Nemos!
If you have any photos you would like to share, we would love to see them. Get in touch via our contact us page and we will upload your pic onto this blog!
Qantas A380 business class desperately needs an upgrade
Read the highs and lows of the Qantas A380 business class cabin on its journey from Melbourne to Singapore. It’s a non stop flight of just over 7 hours.
Australia’s national carrier gets the Only1invillage review. Flying high and flat with the white kangaroo because Qantas has an impeccable safety record. Like the character in Rain Man says, “Qantas has never crashed”.
We get to turn left when we board a plane! One of us is already a little light headed after 2 hours in the Qantas international business lounge Melbourne. Is it going to be a g’day or not? Continue reading as we give you all the details of this business class flight.
Find out why the Qantas A380 business class desperately needs an upgrade.
The flight from Melbourne to Singapore is scheduled to leave at mid day. An announcement is made that the plane is going to be delayed. When you’re sitting in economy class, expletives start to form. Your eyes meet your fellow passengers and you roll your eyes upwards.
But, if you’re in business class, you don’t care, because the champagne just keeps on coming! Well actually, there’s no pre flight champagne on the Qantas A380. We settle for wine and pretzels instead. We have sympathy for our fellow economy class passengers. After all, we fly economy too!
Maybe Qantas read our blog, because on a second flight on the A380 from Melbourne to Singapore, champagne was available. Plus other exciting news, the nuts now come in a ceramic bowl!
The Qantas A380 business class cabin
First up, it’s really big. The business class section on the upper deck is split into two parts. The front end is smaller and feels more cosy. There are 18 seats here. We get seats 13 A and 13B. One is a window seat and one is an aisle seat.
The configuration is 2-2-2. If you’re not travelling in a couple or with friends, it can get a bit awkward for the window seat passenger. The window seat passenger has no direct aisle access. Your fellow passenger will have to step over you when you decide to go fully flat!
The service galley separates the mini cabin from a further 24 business class seats. Behind that there are 8 rows of premium economy seats. Finally at the very back of the plane are 2 rows of economy seats.
The front end contains the ‘bar’. We’ll get onto that a bit later!
The seat and its surrounds on the Qantas A380 business class cabin
The seats themselves are comfortable enough, but, showing their age. The positives are the 180 degree flat bed position and the comfort mattress. Notice that business class seats are not much wider than economy class seats. It’s all about the legroom.
There is a huge amount of legroom.
The window seat passenger gets an extra piece of stowage space in a side compartment.
An additional advantage for the window seat passenger is the extra ‘arm lean’ space. It might make up for the fact that you have to step over your fellow passenger to get to the aisle.
In flight entertainment
There is plenty to entertain yourself with. The Qantas in flight entertainment system has all the usual options. The latest films and classic films in various languages. You can watch the flight cameras or listen to music. The TV screen is a bit grainy and small for business class.
The noise cancelling headphones are a nice touch. They are superior to the ones you get in economy class. You almost want to take them with you!
But what’s going on with this controller? Is it a telephone?
The electronics around the seat
The TV controller can hide in a compartment to the left of your seat. The seat can go into many positions. You can have just your feet up, a slight recline or, the fully flat bed. The buttons to change the seat positions are self explanatory. What we love most, is the in seat massage function of the seats. Getting a massage at 39,000 feet, that’s luxury.
The most disappointing and surprising aspect of the seat electronics is the lack of charging outlets. There are no USB or sockets to charge your devices! What is going on Qantas? That’s a big reason why this fleet of planes needs upgrading. Many airlines in economy have USB charging options under the TV. We are baffled by the lack of electricity available in business class.
On this point, we have to apologise to Qantas. There is a socket and USB charging points on the A380, but they are very difficult to find. On the most recent flight, we only found out the power points after over hearing the flight attendant tell another passenger! They are not in the most obvious location.
The amenity kits on the Qantas A380 business class
We have to say, they’re a bit under whelming. No pyjamas, that’s only for first class passengers. The quality of the toiletries bag isn’t great. It looks a bit cheap and will make a great ‘re-gift’ present for a 5 year old. The Aspar products do smell very good, though.
The food and beverages
Now if you really want to know what you’re eating, you can pre- select your food online. You go to ‘manage your booking’ on the Qantas website and look for ‘Menu Select’. Personally, we like the surprise, there’s always something you’ll want to eat, when flying business class.
When you fly business class you expect the food to be restaurant quality. The food should look and taste different to economy class. From the ‘real’ cutlery and crockery, you expect a big difference. The food is definitely better than economy class! One small gripe is the wine and premium alcohol quality.There’s also no cocktail service, unlike on Emirates business class.
The menu selection always reflects the place you’re flying from and the destination. So, on the flight from Australia there is a choice of Asian inspired and Modern Australian food. We opt for one of each and share!
The lunch service begins an hour into the flight. The headphones are on and the latest film is rolling. It’s main course time. There are four options to choose from! There’s a vegetarian polenta with braised greens, mushroom ragout and a salsa verde. The other choice is a Moroccan style beef tagine with chickpeas, roasted sweet potato and coriander yoghurt. As you can see, it’s a difficult choice!
Ok, Ok, so we eat a lot. Yes, we had a little breakfast in the lounge before the flight, but, you can always make room for dessert! In the interests of a thorough review, it would be unfair not to order something sweet!
Now, just when you think you can’t eat any more. Three hours into the flight, there’s the mid flight snacks. These are also available at the ‘bar’ section at the very front of business class. They are pieces of whole fruit, chocolate bars and bags of crisps/chips. They don’t need a photograph.
Prior to landing, so about 6 hours into the flight comes the last food offerings. There’s a choice of two things, so naturally, we order one of each!
The service of the Qantas staff
The staff are friendly, but not over friendly. They don’t seem to have as much time to chat to you about your destination. For example, landing cards are handed out regardless of whether Singapore is your final destination. A more personal touch would have been to ask passengers if they are connecting or not. Outside of meal times, the Qantas staff keep to themselves.
The Qantas A380 business class toilets
This is what you have all been waiting for! Here it is, the toilet photo!
The Qantas A380 business class bar
This is the part of the Qantas A380 that needs the urgent upgrade the most. When you see the pictures of the bar, you will understand why. Unlike its competitors Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic and Korean Air, you probably won’t be leaving your business class seat for this bar.
It’s not really a bar and the shape of it, isn’t really enticing. Despite that, you will always get some people using the room behind the curtains!
Summary of why the Qantas A380 business class cabin desperately needs an upgrade
Firstly, that bar isn’t enticing. There should be better quality wines on boarding and cocktail options to match competitors. If you compare the area to its competitors, you can see why it doesn’t come close to Emirates or Qatar’s on board bar. See pictures of the Emirates A380 barhere.
Secondly, the seats are starting to sag and could be a little wider. Seating configuration of 2-2-2 vs competitors such as Emirates 1-2-1 means a lot less space. Also it means window passengers need to climb over the person next to them. The privacy screens are too short. The television screens are too small and low quality. The toilets have no amenities.
Good news the overhaul of the A380 started in September 2019. The first upgraded plane flew from London to Singapore in October 2019. We have yet to fly this route. When we do, we’ll let you know! Qantas promises to make the bar area more inviting.
Qantas has also announced that all seats will have aisle access in business class. They are making their business seats more like Qatar’s ‘business suites’ which are like mini first class areas.
The upgrades are scheduled to finish at the end of 2020. Roll on 2020, we say!
To read about the improvements, Qantas is planning for the A380 fleet, click here.
Here is our review of this shiny and modern lounge. It is spacious and comfortable with fast Wi-fi. A calm oasis to relax in, before your long haul flight. We visit at both breakfast and lunch time. The menu changes at mid day. Only1invillage tells you what you get and what you don’t, in the coffee Capital of Australia!
Australia’s national carrier Qantas has recently spent a lot of money refurbishing its domestic lounges. Are the lounges of the same standard for international passengers in Melbourne, Australia? When Down Under, find out if you’re getting a dud or a gem, when you fly through or from Melbourne International.
Quick Index Qantas International Business Lounge Melbourne
After passport control in Terminal 2 you go through the duty free shops. Keep following the signs. The lounge is located down an escalator and is opposite the Singapore Airlines and American Express Lounge.
Qantas International business class dress code
Quite a lot of people can use this lounge. Before you get dressed though, please read our guide of what to wear and what not to wear! How embarrassing if you get refused entry because you’re not properly dressed!
Who can Get In
Emirates code share customers who are flying business class can use this lounge, but will probably opt for the Emirates lounge. Also business class passengers of the following airlines. Get ready for the long list! Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Sri Lankan Airways, LATAM (Chilean), China Airlines, China Southern, China Eastern, Garuda Indonesia, Fiji Airways, Jetstar, Vietnam Airlines and Sichuan Airlines.
You can also gain entry if you have racked up enough points with your airline. Usually if you’re in the top two tiers and have jewel status of at least a sapphire, you can use the Qantas international business lounge in Melbourne. For Qantas you have to hold gold status. For Emirates, gold and platinum status gets you in. If you’re a Oneworld alliance flyer and have sapphire or emerald status, come on in!
Lastly, if you’re a Qantas Club member or you have a single entry pass, then come on in and relax.
The good news is that the lounge is very big. It can hold up to 350 people apparently. Still you don’t want it to be full and at capacity! You come to a lounge to get away from the terminal crowd.
The best thing for families with small children, is the play area. It would be better however, if it was enclosed, so you can’t hear the screeching of the little darlings. Take a leaf out of Emirates’ children’s area in Dubai. For a review of the Emirates business class lounges in Dubai, click here.
There’s a business area with a sleek long desk and photocopier machine/printer at one end, just after the reception desk. Set up here if you need to get some work done.
The seats range from armchairs in small groups to bar stools. They come in a variety of colours, textures and comfort levels. As usual, the tables are way too small to fit much onto them. However, most people aren’t travelling in large groups and you can always put two tables together, if the need arises.
The shower area is located in the middle of the lounge.
There are also separate toilet areas.
The showers have a toilet inside them too, so they’re more like a mini bathroom.
The toiletries have been exclusively designed for Qantas by Aspar. The 500ml body lotion retails at $50AUD per bottle. When you get on the A380 Qantas plane, inside your amenity kit, you will find an exclusive offer for Aspar products. You enter a code on the Aspar website and you get $50AUD discount. Conditions apply.
Food and Beverages
Feeling hungry? Like all business class lounges, the food changes according to the time of the day. We visit at breakfast time on one occasion and another time for lunch. There’s a very good, not quite excellent, variety of hot and cold choices, including Qantas’ signature ‘made to order’ dish of the day.
The drinks selection never changes, don’t worry. You can still mix yourself a cocktail at 8am!
Being in Melbourne you are guaranteed great coffee. Barista made is best. There are 2 self service machines, but who in their right mind uses them, when you’re in the coffee capital of Australia?
The cold options are a Western style selection. On offer for breakfast is fruit salad, yoghurts, cereals and muesli.
Now onto the hot food. It’s what we call a full English.
For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s pretty tasty, but, not so healthy. Fried or grilled sausages, bacon, eggs, mushroom and hash browns are standard. For the health component grilled tomatoes are usually offered too. It’s not all bad!
If that’s too unhealthy for you, you can always try the special dish of the day. It is cooked to order, so it’s guaranteed to be fresh. The business lounge plate of the day is next to the barista coffee bar. You place your order and hang around for about 5 minutes. They call your name, when your food is ready.
At midday the breakfast is removed and replaced with lunch offerings. Cereals and yoghurts are replaced with salads. Grilled tomatoes and bacon change to various hot dishes. Presentation wise, Qantas comes second to an Emirates lounge, both in taste and presentation.
If you don’t fancy making your own sandwich, you can make your own salad or choose from two ready made versions.
If you’re after something hot, there are two dishes on offer.
If you still have room, there is a small cake selection.
Any international business class lounge worthy of its class has to have a good selection of alcohol. Whilst Qantas doesn’t offer premium alcohol, like Emirates does, the variety is good.
The selection of alcohol is vast. You can mix your own cocktails for breakfast at two stations in the business class lounge. No one is going to judge you!
The quality of the wines isn’t as good as in the Emirates lounges, but much better than the Qantas Club in the domestic terminal.
The soft drinks selection is pretty good too. Teas are available in single sachets. Freshly pressed vegetable juice is available too.
What the Qantas lounge does have over the Emirates lounge, is the barista coffee.The fresh barista coffee is excellent. Well, this is the coffee capital of Australia, after all! The latte art is pretty impressive too.
The only drinks missing are the bubble teas and smoothies. We don’t know any lounges that offer these! If you do, let us know.
Here’s a round up of what you get and what you don’t in the Qantas international business class lounge.
You get plenty of space. A dedicated children’s play area. Comfortable spaces to sit or work. A big variety of beverages. A good selection of hot and cold food. Showers to freshen up in. Fabulous barista coffee.
What you don’t get is natural light. Also, the cleaning up of dirty plates isn’t as good as it could be. Apart from that, there’s not too much to complain about. We enjoyed our time in the Qantas international business class lounge Melbourne. It beats having to cook breakfast or lunch for yourself!
So what’s your favourite place that you have visited? A common question that is hard to answer. For us when it comes to beach destinations around the world this is it! Redang Island Malaysia is a tropical paradise! Beautiful sand, crystal clear warm water, spectacular scenery, amazing marine life and largely unknown. Keep reading and discover why we call it the Malaysian Maldives.
We are not joking! You don’t even have to dive to see giant bumphead parrot fish, angel fish, giant clams and the clown fish are everywhere!!! Black tip reef sharks, turtles, puffer fish, red breasted wrasse and titan triggerfish are common sightings.
If your idea of paradise involves palm trees, frangipanis, sitting with your toes in soft, white sand, crystal clear warm water, amazing fish life and serious relaxation, you know what to do……..keep reading!
We know, we know, you want to go to the Maldives, but, trust us, the Maldives is a huge rip off. Do you enjoy paying $US5 for a 330ml can of Coke? Do you like getting your feet cut on sharp coral? Do you enjoy going for a 1 hour snorkel and seeing one grey coloured fish?
Is your idea of paradise worth $US400 a night for a 3 star resort? Unless you go to exclusive resorts which charge in excess of $US800 per night, the sand quality is not better in the Maldives. To us, Redang is the Malaysian Maldives!
Compare these photos. Can you tell which one is Malaysia and which one is the Maldives?
You can see where we’re heading can’t you? Malaysia has everything the Maldives has but on a budget! Train your brain to say Redang Island is my next dream destination. Forget about the Maldives. Malaysia or the Maldives? See, they are even beginning to sound similar!
Where is Redang Island?
Redang Island is part of Malaysia. The island itself is located in the South China Sea. Redang Island is NE of the capital Kuala Lumpur. It used to be a plane ride away, but the runway closed in 2016. It is a bit of a transportation collective to get to Redang Island, which makes it less popular than Langkawi. Yes, Langkawi is beautiful too, but far more crowded. We like the fact that it’s difficult to get to Redang. A plane, a taxi and then a boat ride from KL, makes Redang Island quieter. Redang is close to our other dream destination in Malaysia, thePerhentian Islands.
When is the best time to go to Redang Island?
Redang Island weather is tropical. Redang Island has three seasons. Bloody wet and hot, bloody hot and dry and monsoon season. Best time to go is non monsoon season. June, July and August offer the calmest seas and best water clarity. Many places close on Redang Island from November to February. Always check in advance. The crossing over can be very rough in the monsoon season. Some boats may not operate at all. So the best time to go depends of what type of weather you like!
April is a good time to go to Redang too, but tidal waves bring in some rubbish from wherever all that plastic comes from. When we come in April, we spend a lot of time cleaning the beach.
It is however, nothing like the nightmare of rubbish you see on Indonesian beaches. September still has plenty of sunshine. Even in October, when you might get downpours of H2o, it doesn’t last long! Basically Redang is an escape for the southern hemisphere experiencing Winter.
If you’re bored of crowded European beaches in June, July and August, come on over to the Malaysian Maldives, of Redang! The sun shines all day long, the water is warm and clear and the sand is soft.
How to get to Redang Island
Option 1 – Getting to Redang Island
The nearest airport is Kuala Terrenganu. Kuala Terranganu is a 50 minute flight, from the capital of KL. KLIA2 and Air Asia offers the most number of flights to KT daily. From KT airport (Malaysians love acronyms) a 50 minute taxi ride takes you to Shandabhar Jetty. From there, a public ferry takes 90 mins to cross the South China Sea to our no longer secret paradise island.
Option 2 – Getting to Redang Island
You can also go to Merang Jetty and wait for a boat to fill up to get to Redang Island. Don’t confuse Merang with Marang, which is totally different. The letter e makes all the difference. There is no jetty at Marang. You must go to Merang. Click here for the boat times from Merang Jetty to Redang. Note, we only use this for the return from Redang. We cannot vouch for the accuracy of the times going to Redang from Merang Jetty. Also, we have never booked online, we always pay cash.
However, the boats can be more crowded and you may have to wait for one to fill up.
Buy your tickets here to go to Redang if you turn up at Merang Jetty. Your accommodation can also buy your ticket in advance along with your taxi transfer from Kuala Terrenganu. Don’t forget, you will also have to pay a small jetty access charge and the marine park fee. Have to preserve paradise! It won’t put a dent in your budget. It’s 30MYR for non Malaysians, 15MYR for children and senior citizens. That’s the same fee for the Perhentian Islands marine park fee. If, like us, you go to Redang, from the Perhentian Islands, you don’t have to pay twice!
Option 3 – Getting to Redang Island
If you love a bumpy, hold onto your bones boat ride for 50 minutes, you can also get to Redang Island from the Perhentian Islands! On arrival at the Perhentian Islands, we always go to Ayumni House, which is behind Tuna Bay resort and ask the lady there to arrange a boat transfer. The cost is MYR100 per person.
At least 6 people have to go to make it worthwhile for the ‘taxi’. That’s why you need to enquire at least 3 days in advance. In our experience, it’s easier to island hop from Perhentian Besar to Redang Island and not the other way around.
If you’re staying at the Taraas Beach Resort or Laguna Redang Island Resort, they will arrange all transfers for you. This includes a meet and greet at the airport in Kuala Terrenganu. Enquire with your accommodation.
What’s there to do on Redang Island?
The things to do on Redang Island are all outdoors. This is not a tropical paradise where you want to stay in your hotel room. Some accommodation comes without TVs in the room, which we think is a great idea. How will you catch the moon rise? Yes, there is such a thing. Even massages, morning and evening yoga are an outside activity.
It’s all about the ‘s’ words. Sun, sea, sand and snorkelling! There’s also some hiking, massage, reading and yoga. A few places will rent out kayaks and stand up paddle boards. Believe us, it’s exhausting from dawn until dusk fitting everything in.
The snorkelling and diving is some of the best in Asia. The diving is also very cheap and the equipment you get is of a good standard. Diving instructors are knowledgable. If you’re thinking of getting your PADI license, why not do it in paradise? It really gives Thailand, where J got certified a run for its money.
Redang is an underwater paradise. Every day, we are busy spotting resident turtles, clown fish, angel fish and rare sightings of bump head parrot fish.
Not to mention giant wrasse, titan triggerfish, black spotted cod, moray eels and sting rays!
Almost forgot about the schools of black tip reef sharks which smile at you as they glide past!
Redang Island is, for us, the perfect mix of not too isolated and not too busy.
Nightlife consists of live bands at the various resorts. Thankfully where we stay doesn’t have a band at all. Also, Sari Pacifica doesn’t do live music, which means it is possible to sleep at 10pm.
During the day, you often have the powder white sand to yourself and 10 other western tourists. Asian tourists avoid the sun from 10 until 4. Your peace will be interrupted 3 times a day when the snorkelling boats come in and out.
Apart from that you can only hear waves, gently lapping against the shore. Oh and course people’s conversations about the amazing fish!
What’s the food like on a tropical island?
One of the things to do on Redang Island is to eat and eat and then eat some more. The Malaysian food is better than the western food. Eating out doesn’t break the bank in Malaysia and Redang Island is no exception.
You’ll need great coffee to go with that cake. Forgot to add the latte pictures! Here you go. You can get great coffee on Redang Island. OK, not Milan or Melbourne standard, but what else are you going to drink with your cake?
Where we stay on Redang Island
Our secret island paradise is out, so we might as well share where we stay. Our favourite place to stay on Redang Island is Coral Redang Island Resort. This is a 3 star resort.
Good value and modern with a prime position on the beach. What we like about Redang Island is that even though the hotels are built on the beach, they are well camouflaged. They are also about 20 metres back from the water.
The service is good and the restaurant is the best option for western food. We have tried every restaurant on the island. The organisation of transfers to and from the island is very good. Visa is accepted for paying the final bill. You cannot book via booking.com or expedia. You have to book direct with the resort.
There are two types of room available. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Deluxe rooms are more expensive, better decor and you only have one neighbour. Deluxe rooms are two storey stand alone buildings at the front and centreof the property. The first 6 from the reception area have beach and water views.
Standard rooms are set further back from the beach. They are cheaper but are newer. They have a more plain decoration. The standard rooms don’t have a fridge. The showers are more powerful, however than deluxe rooms. You have more neighbours, especially if you are in the middle floor. Beds are newer and slightly more comfortable than in the deluxe rooms. We like both rooms and have stayed in both. Both rooms have a massive safe. The safes are big enough to store laptops, something quite rare. There are also family rooms. There is a block facing the pool which is ideal for 2 kids and 2 adults in a sort of adjoining room.
Breakfast is included at Coral Redang Island Resort.
There is fruit, yoghurt, cereal, croissants and toast. There is also an egg station. Don’t expect poached, egg white omelettes or soft boiled eggs. The egg station is strictly for fried eggs and omelettes.
There’s always hash browns (English and Australian style), baked beans and some kind of starch like noodles or rice. On Sundays it’s roti bread breakfast day! Our absolute favourite flaky bread with a yummy curry sauce.
Coral Redang Island Resort also have a very professional dive centre. Snorkelling and diving trips go out every day and the staff speak English, Mandarin and Cantonese in addition to Bahasa Malay. The equipment is modern and clean. If you have your own diving equipment, there is a small discount. So bring your oxygen tank, just joking! Waterproof cameras, masks and snorkels are available to rent. Life jackets, masks and snorkels are part of the snorkel trip package. Kayaks and stand up paddle boards complete your water sports adventures. Thankfully there are no banana boat rides or giant doughnuts on Redang Island.
The beach view frangipani villas are the only choice here. You have well padded veranda lounges and a king sized bed. The food isn’t the best here. There’s no live music at night which makes this and Coral Redang on the quiet end of the beach.
Laguna Redang Island Resort is a big development. Even though it is large it blends quite well into the scenery. This is rated as a four star resort and caters mainly for tourists on a package, which includes daily snorkelling. During peak season, the breakfast buffet can be chaotic!
If you want a pool for the kids and a jacuzzi for yourself you have to stay at Laguna Redang. Make sure you venture out between 11 and 4pm and you’ll be like J (see picture below!)
Popular with Chinese tourists on a package. However, most Chinese people stay in the shade between 10am and 3pm, so you’ll have the facilities pretty much to yourself during daylight hours. Beware as the temperature drops (by 2 degrees from 32 to 30) the vampires begin to come out and the peace will be shattered!
Located just next door to the big complex that is Laguna Redang is Redang Beach Resort. Yes, the names all get a bit confusing! This is also quite a big resort. The sand in front is powder white and has a volley ball net set up for the 5pm games. Note: no one plays before then, it’s too hot!
This is a 3 to 4 star hotel, depending on your tastes. The rooms seem comfortable enough and you get the usual tea making facilities.
Expensive and posh for Malaysia. Read Tripadvisor reviews however, for the service. Commanding a whole white sandy bay all to themselves. The Taaras is a bit remote. Stunning location, definitely a mirror image of some Maldivian islands. Once there, you don’t have many choices for food or activities. It’s a place to stay if you want luxury and you don’t want to leave the one beach.
Turtle spotting happens just in front of this luxury resort. So you don’t have to pay for a boat trip, because this is where you end up. The turtles here are amazing! But, it is sad to see that the tour operators let people get too close. They also feed the turtles squid to encourage them to hang around. We don’t like this practice and prefer to see our resident turtles on Long Beach.
There is a beach right next door which has the same soft white sand. We trek across the island and it takes about 50 minutes of pure sweat through the jungle. Don’t bring anything valuable as there can sometimes be people ready to snatch your belongings. (see the jungle trekking pictures)
The beaches on Redang Island
Used to be a resort Beach
This is where we want to buy and develop a resort! After that we want to set up house on this island, our beautiful Malaysian Maldives. There used to be a resort here and it is a bit eerie exploring here. But, go through Laguna Redang Resort, past their private jetty area and into the back area to get to Delima Resort and you will arrive here! We are always the only people here. We don’t know what this beach is called. There are no facilities here obviously.
Well if we haven’t convinced you that Redang Island is the Maldives on a budget, you’ll have to go yourself and prove us wrong. We love it so much, we have been six times! Pop on over to the Perhentian Islands, our other fave Malaysian Maldives islands, while you’re in the area!
Only1invillage shares our dream destination the Perhentian Islands
Here, we reveal how the Perhentian Islands is just like the Maldives and why it should be your number 1 dream destination! We are regular visitors and this is our 5th trip to these amazing hidden gems. You’ll be kicking yourself in the nether regions, thinking “How come I’ve never heard of this place?!” Forget Thailand and Bali for beaches and sunshine, hello Malaysia! Malaysia is the new Maldives. Keep reading and start planning your first visit to the Perhentian Islands! You know you want to 🙂
Ask yourself these questions about a beach holiday destination.
Do you love to walking and lying on powder white soft sand?
Do you love watching spectacular sunsets and sun rises?
Are turtles, clown fish and reef tip sharks your favourite ocean animals?
Do you love days of clear blue skies and no rain?
Do you love swimming in crystal clear, warm water?
Do you love gorging yourself on fresh seafood and local delights?
Do you enjoy island hopping?
Is snorkelling in pristine coral reefs high on your agenda?
Are friendly locals an important part of your holiday?
Do you like to gain some cultural knowledge of the place you’re visiting as a tourist?
Do you love getting a bargain on holiday?
Have you answered yes to all the above questions? Well, who wouldn’t? Maybe some of us don’t care too much about the last question, but, overall you say yes to the questions. That’s why the Perhentian Islands is your next dream destination.
Where are the Perhentian Islands?
The Perhentian Islands are in Malaysia, south east Asia. They are on the Eastern side of the Malaysian peninsula. The Perhentian islands are south of the Thai border. Penang is on the western side, directly opposite the Perhentian islands, when looking at a map. From Kuala Lumpur in the south, the Perhentians are located in the North East.
How many Perhentian Islands are There?
They are two islands which on a clear day, you can see across the South China Sea. In Bahasa Malay, they are known as ‘pulau Perhentian’. Pulau means islands. Furthermore, Pulau Perhentian Kecil means ‘small Perhentian island’ and Pulau Perhentian Besar, means, ‘big Perhentian Island. It’s important to not that there is an island off the coast of Melaka, called Pulau Besar, so don’t confuse the two!
How do I get to the Perhentian Islands?
To get to the Perhentian Islands you have to get a boat from Kuala Besut. Before you get to Kuala Besut, you have to get to Kota Bharu. International visitors will fly into Kuala Lumpur. From Kuala Lumpur, an internal flight is necessary. Air Asia, Firefly, Malindo Air and Malaysia Airways fly to Kota Bahru, one hour away. Air Asia offers the best number of flights per day. From KL, you can choose from 10 flights per day on Air Asia. The cost is usually about $US20, $GBP15, $AUD30, EUR18 one way before luggage and taxes. Air Asia is a budget airline. But for an hour’s flight who cares?
From Kota Bharu, you get a taxi to the jetty point of a little town called Kuala Besut. You can either get your resort to arrange a taxi, use your GRAB app (UBER for SE Asia) or get a pre -paid ticket at the taxi counter at Kota Bharu airport.
There is a public ferry, but we never take it. Time is of the essence when you need to get to paradise!