The Grampians 7 days of wonderful walks 1

The Grampians 7 days of wonderful walks

Recently we returned to the Grampians National Park for a week of hiking, fresh air and nature sight seeing. It’s always a beautiful experience with a mix of dry eucalyptus forests, scrubby bushes, waterfalls, lakes and rainforests set amongst sandstone and granite rocks. There is an abundance of native wildlife. You will see many kangaroos and may see koalas, emus and vast range of marsupial and native animals. Below we share some of our favourite walks and photos as well as essential tips and advice, enjoy!

Quick Index

Grampians Mountains National Park Victoria Australia 3 hrs from Melbourne Only1invillage
The majestic Grampians area is a National Park just 3 hours drive from Melbourne. Smell the fresh air!

The Grampians national Park is a mountainous region in the state of Victoria. Fresh air, rivers, waterfalls, grey kangaroos at your door and stunning rock formations await.

Weird rock shapes Grampians Victoria Only1invillage walks
The rock shapes and structures are what you make of them. J is talking to the man on the other side!

Not only for outdoor adventures, such as rock climbing, the Grampians offers gourmet food and wine with a genuine friendly welcome. Gariwerd is the traditional name used by the indigenous peoples of the area. Gariwerd can be divided into North, South, East and West for hiking and tourist purposes.

Mount Sturgeon in the South of the Grampians National Park.Only1invillage.
Mount Sturgeon in the South of the Grampians National Park.

                                          

Where are the Grampians?

The Grampians area is a national park area under 3 hours west from Melbourne. It is situated between Stawell and Horsham on the Western Highway and Dunkeld on the Glenelg Highway.

                                          

What’s there to see and do in the Grampians?

What is there to see in the Grampains National Park Victoria Australia ONly1invillage
Hmmm…. What’s there to see in this national Park called Gariwerd by the original inhabitants of the area?

There are numerous peaks, hikes and waterfalls to conquer! It is the place to see kangaroos and wallabies and emus. We even saw some deer, which was a bit of a surprise. It has its own Grand Canyon! A growing foodie destination for wine. The Grampians region has the best indigenous rock art in Victoria.

                                          

Best Time to go to the Grampians

Best time to go to the Grampians Only1invillage
Winter is a great time to go to the Grampians. It may be cold, yes, it gets cold in Australia, but it’s way less crowded and accommodation much cheaper.

We went in Winter and we have to say, it was really good! Apart from the chilly starts, when the sun is shining and it’s not raining, Winter is a good time to go. Less tourists, often there were only about 5 other people on some of the more challenging hikes, such as Mount Rosea. Even the most popular Pinnacle walk wasn’t too bad in terms of foot traffic. You could even get a photo with no one else in the background along Silent Street. That won’t be happening in peak season! We don’t recommend going hiking in Summer, as there is no shelter as you clamber over ancient rocks. Plus you will have to carry a lot of water!  

Have the Grand Canyon all to yourself out of season in the GRampians Only1invillage
The popular Grand Canyon can be yours alone when you go out of season.

Here are the seasons in the Grampians area:

Spring – September, October, November

Summer – December, January, February

Autumn – March, April, May

Winter – June, July, August

Day 1 wonderful walks of the Grampians

We arrive on a Saturday afternoon at Halls Gap, after a fabulous lunch at a tiny town called Great Western, just 40 minutes from Halls Gap. The food was sensational and very much unexpected. Never judge a town by its cover!

Moroccan pulled lamb shoulder on a beetroot hummus with local goat's cheese. Crispy fried chicken on soft shell tacos with crunchy slaw and sriracha mayo. Not what we were expecting from a small town called Great Western. Available at the Great Western General Store cafe.
Moroccan pulled lamb shoulder on a beetroot hummus with local goat’s cheese. Crispy fried chicken on soft shell tacos with crunchy slaw and sriracha mayo. Not what we were expecting from a small town called Great Western. Available at the Great Western General Store cafe.

We learn that the indigenous peoples of the area call it Budja Budja. There’s only time to do a quick walk after checking in at the Gariwerd Motel. This will be our base for the 7 days of great Grampians walks.

                                          

Venus Baths via Stony Creek Loop Walk

We choose the Halls Gap Botanical Gardens, the Venus Baths and the Clematis Falls Walk. It is Winter so we have to get back to paved road by 5.30pm. 

Botanic Garens car park sign
At the entrance of the Botanic Gardens car park. There is parking for about 20 cars in unmarked spaces.

Every walk is very well marked. The first port of call is Venus Baths. An easy walk for all ages. This is a loop walk.

Stony Creek loop walk towards Venus Baths Grampians Victoria AUstralia photo by Only1invillage
The easy walk to the Venus Baths is via Stony Creek. A flat, easy walk for all ages.

You can get the 2.3kms done easily in half an hour each way, at the most leisurely of paces.

Venus Baths Hall Gap The Grampians Only1invillage
The amazing Venus Baths. In Spring and Summer it’s a great place to break for a rock picnic, while dipping those tired feet in the clear water pools.

You can also come back via a different track on the opposite side of Stony Creek.

Stony creek is a creek you guessed it full of stones Grampians Victoria Australia photo by only1invillage
The loop track towards Venus Baths takes you along Stony Creek.
You’ve guessed it, it is a creek full of stones!

On the way back from Venus Baths, we stop to wander around the Botanic Gardens. 

Botanic Gardens Halls Gap Grampians
Explore the Botanic Gardens in Halls Gap. It will give you great information on the plants you will see on your hikes.

Day 2 of our Grampians walks adventures

Our first full day of walks of the day of walks for those National Geographic moments, starts with the Bullaces Glen and Chatauqua Peak walk. Don’t forget to cross the road carefully to get to Bullaces Glen. A  medium grade walk with some rock scrambling. Hiking shoes recommended for grip. You can do it in running shoes/sneakers, but we find the ankle support of hiking boots much more comfortable.

After a lunch break we take on Splitters Falls. This walk involves a bit of rock scrambling. You can do it the easy way or the hard way. 

                                          

Bullaces Glen – official time and distance depends on where you start – medium grade 1 hourish return

How to get there – Start at Halls Gap Road and follow the now familiar green signs. This is a pretty  circular walk through a green fern covered glade that also has a small waterfall.

Bullaces Glen Grampians Victoria Australia
Bullaces Glen, probably named because it is reminiscent of Scotland? If you have watched Highlander, what do you think?

Bullaces Glan only1invillage
Reminiscent of Scottish countryside? Bullaces Glen.

                                          

Clematis Falls – Official distance and time – 2.4 kms- 40 minutes to1 Hour easy grade walk

An easy walk from Halls Gap, that you can access from the recreation reserve. You may see emus or kangaroos along the way. The waterfall is best after a rainfall and a good place for a refreshing shower in the hotter months. 

Clematis Falls is a mini falls
Clematis Falls is the easiest walk to see a waterfall you’re going to get!

 

How to get to Clematis Falls
Various ways to get to Clematis Falls. This sign was taken at the bottom of the Oval car park.

                                          

Chatauqua Peak – 5.6kms circuit medium grade Official time 2.5 hours.

This is one of the lesser known and less popular walks in the Grampians. Make the effort to go though as you get sweeping valley views near the peak. Don’t be fooled by Google Maps. If you put in Halls Gap to Chatauqua Peak, it says 29 minutes on foot! If it was flat, that is achievable but it is a steep climb up.

Sweeping valley views Chatauqua Peak Walk only1invillage
Sweeping valley views on the way up to Chatauqua Peak. One of the less popular walks, don’t know why, it’s beautiful!

Where to start: This peak walk can be accessed after the Venus Baths or the Oval Car Park in Halls Gap. You can also take in Clematis Falls on the way up or on the way down.

There are some very difficult parts right near the peak, but, we agree with the official listing as medium.

Chatauqua Peak yellow markers near the peak only1invillage
It’s get very difficult near the top of Chatauqua Peak. Look out for these yellow markers to guide you. Almost there…

Chatauqua Peak conquered Only1invillage
We make it, well J does anyway! Chatauqua Peak conquered! What are you looking at? Let us see the view too!

Chatauqua Peak view only1invillage
Chatauqua Peak views are not the best from the actual peak, in our humble opinion.

                                          

Splitters Falls medium grade 2.7kms one way 1.5 hours each way

You guessed it named because the falls split! Getting there is quite the adventure, scrambling over rocks and walking through damp forest. At some points it looks as if you’re going to drop off the mountain, but don’t worry, you won’t.

Official grading – easy if you start from the Wonderland Car Park. It’s only 700 metres.

2.7kms one way – moderate grade which means medium. 

Splitters Falls so called because they er..... split! Only1invillage
Splitters Falls so called because they er….. split! That’s just a guess mind you. These dividing falls can be reached in two ways. The easy way, via the car park; or the hard way via Venus Baths.

Where to start: At the bottom of the Venus Baths there are some steps. Take these. If you want to cheat you can drive to the Wonderland car park, where it is then only a 700 metre stroll. Nah, we don’t do that, we have legs, they’re not painted on. Besides we have calories to burn.

sign for Splitters Falls Grampians National Park Gar
Start the walk at the bottom of Venus Baths. Take these steps. Venus Baths is reached from the centre of Halls Gap.

It’s not as easy as the official website makes out. It isn’t difficult, but it isn’t a flat stroll through a, park! So take the steps up and you will arrive here (picture of J below).

After steps at Venus Baths to Splitters Falls only1invillage
After the sign at Venus Baths you will be here. On the way to Splitters Falls. It looks like a dead end but it isn’t.

On the way to Splitters Falls from Venus Baths only1invillage
You see it’s not that flat when you take the rocks to Splitters Falls.

At times you can’t really see if the rocks will take you to Splitters Falls. There wasn’t anyone else coming back either to ask. We just keep going!

a sign you're approaching Splitters Falls only1invillage
This trickle of water is a sign, you’re on the right path to Splitters Falls.

Surely this trickle of water means we are not lost? Splitters Falls here we come!

dry riverbed before SPlitters Falls only1invillage
In wetter times there will be water here! The river bed before Splitters Falls. This is a good sign, we’re almost there!

It takes us about an hour and a half one way. We’re finally here, yay! Time for some photographs.

arrival at Splitters Falls from Venus Baths only1invillage
Our triumphant arrival at Splitters Falls from Halls Gap. 1.5 hours one way.

Day 3 exploring the Grampians on foot

                                          

Boronia Peak – officially graded medium – 2.5hrs return

A fabulous walk with magnificent views at the very top. A bit of vertigo for us! Very windy and suddenly cold at the top. Requires rock scrambling to the last part of the jagged peak. Breathtaking! (2.5 hours 6.6kms return official time) This was a medium grade track with some very steep parts. It took us about 3 hours, including time for photographs.

Where to start: You start the Boronia Peak Walk at Tandara Road. Just park on the street. 

Boronia Peak walk start here Grampians Victoria AUstralia
The start of the Boronia Peak Walk is off the street. The road is called Tandara Road. It’s a suburban road.

All the signs are one way. Make sure you factor this into your day. When going up to a peak, also remember that the change of terrain and altitude will increase your average walking speed, that you can do on a pavement/ sidewalk. We average 4-5 kms an hour in cities but on this walk there were parts where we averaged only 1km per hour, due to rock scrambling.

The path starts out as an easy pleasant stroll…. Don’t let that fool you for the hard work ahead!

Start Bonoronia Peak Walk on a flat path Grampians Victoria AUstralia
Start the trek to Boronia Peak on a leisurely flat stroll. If you’re lucky you might spot some interested deer, sharing the path with you.

Change in topography on Boronia Peak Walk from flat path Grampians Victoria Australia
After the flat footpath, the topography starts to change. (Path up to Boronia Peak ).

The path gets increasingly more difficult as you ascend.

On the Boronia Peak walk stop to take in the breathtaking scenery
Yep, you’re going higher and higher to get to that Boronia Peak! Time to take a rest!

It’s onwards and upwards from this point. By now, you should be a bit sweaty!

rock scrambling time narrow path to the Boronia Peak Grampians Vicoria Australia Only1invillage
Right it’s getting tough and tight! Scrambling time! This is where the fun starts! The only way is up!

We have walked about an hour and a half, scrambled over rocks and squeezed ourselves through ‘rock stairs’ walls. At times it might not look obvious where to go, but, as long as you’re still heading up hill, you know you’re on the right path!

Boronia Peak getting to the top almost there Grampians Victoria Australia photo by only1invillage
When you see this view you’ve almost reached the peak! Boronia Peak, that is!

Victory at the top of Boronia Peak The gRampians, Victoria, Australia by only1invillage
Victory is ours on top of Boronia Peak after 1hr 45 mins. It gets suddenly cold at the top and the wind picks up. Well you are over 1800 feet up (about 570 metres).

Time for the panoramic view that everyone says is well worth the trek up.

Boronia Peak panoramic View Grampians Victoria Australia photo by Only1invillage
Boronia Peak panoramic view. Now that is worth the climb! That’s what 570 metres above sea level looks like in the Grampains ranges.

Needless to say the way down, was much easier, with gravity helping us out. We complete the walk in about 3 hours. The official time is 2 hours 30 mins.

Boronia Peak vegetation Only1invillage
So much beauty at the top of Boronia Peak.

After a break for lunch, it was time for an easier afternoon drive and stroll to Mackenzie Falls.

                                          

Mackenzie Falls Walk 2kms return medium grade due to steep steps – 1.5 hours return

Mackenzie Falls Grampians Victoria Australia
The must visit waterfall in the Grampians is Mackenzie Falls. It never dries up and cascades over cliffs into a deep pool.

One of the most popular and accessible walks in the Grampians. Well developed with wheelchair access to 2 viewing points. 

Mackenzie Falls as seen from the wheelchair accessible viwing platform
If taking steep steps is a problem, don’t worry you can still see the stunning Mackenzie Falls. Go along the wheelchair accessible path from the car park and look down from the viewing platform.

How to get there – By car from Halls Gap Road you drive up the winding roads to the Mackenzie Falls Car park. From there it’s an easy stroll to the viewing point which is wheelchair accessible. To get to the actual waterfall, you descend steep steps. This will take you about half an hour.

 

Day 4 of hiking the Grampians

                                          

The Pinnacle Lookout Walk – From the Wonderland Car Park – 2.1 kms official time 1.5 hrs one way

This walk is a steep medium to hard grade walk but with so much varied terrain. Possibly the most famous walk of all. Taking in 4 other Google maps sights, this has to be the walk to do, if you can only do one. On our walk we saw plenty of children, so it’s a good family hike. There are plenty of opportunities to take rests and the most popular parts have had stairs built into the rocks. This walk takes in 4 popular sites and if you can only do one walk, we recommend you do this one.

Grand Canyon Australian style Only1invillage
Australia’s answer to the north American Grand Canyon….yee hah!

Grand Canyon

When you start this walk from the Wonderland Car Park, you immediately get the impressive Grand Canyon. This is Australia’s answer to the famous North American Grand Canyon. Since we haven’t been to the American Grand Canyon, this will do for now. It’s pretty cool, we think you’ll agree, for a smaller scale offering. Obviously, if you’ve been to the American Grand Canyon, you’re going to be a bit underwhelmed. But, for us, we think it’s fantastic.

Grand Canyon shot Only1invillage
You’re going to love the Grand Canyon, Australian style of course!

Cool Chamber 

This is a rock overhang that is easy to miss. About 30 minutes into the walk. It makes really good echoes. Watch your head if you’re tall. That ancient rock is hard!

The Cool Chamber sign Only1invillage
The Cool Chamber is on the way to the Pinnacles lookout point. A good place to take shelter if it starts to rain. In Summer, a great place to cool down from the relentless sun.

Bridal Veil Falls 

Best viewed after rain, to get the best effect. Just after the Cool Chamber, Bridal Veil Falls is refreshing on a hot day! You can stand under it to wash off the sweat in Summer. If you go in Summer to the Grampians, you can stand at the back, to get some much needed shade from the relentless Australian sun.

Bridal Veil Falls Only1invillage
Bridal Veils Falls was running a bit dry, so J is trying to summon some rain!

Silent Street

Silent Street sign Grampians Only1invillage
Heading down into Silent Street. Let’s see how quiet it is!

Silent Street Grampians winter time Only1invillage
Silent Street is pretty silent! There’s only us in the street probably because it’s early and off peak season. Yes!

Silent STreet scenery to the right Only1invillage
As you go through Silent Street, look through the rock gaps and see this awesome scenery.

Silent STreet all ot ourselves Only1invillage
Silent Street is also steep with some stairs. We still have it all to ourselves!

After Silent Street you’re almost at the peak. This is where you start to hear voices of other hikers coming down. It is still up hill, but the promise of a great view keeps you going.

Just after Silent Street rock posing Only1invillage
Time for a quick pose after Silent Street. The Pinnacles is almost within reach. You can see it’s at sky level.

Then you see it and hear it, the Pinnacles!!!

The Pinnacles view at the top Only1invillage
The Pinnacles view at the top. It is magnificent. Well worth the 1 hours 45 minutes each from the Wonderland Car Park. 

Before you leave there is a huge area to explore at the top of the Pinnacles Lookout. Grab a flat rock and have some lunch or do a balance walk that has now been discouraged for safety reasons. 

The Need le test of nerves at the Pinnacles peak Only1invillage
The thin ledge you see is called The Needle. You won’t see any signs for it though. Long ago there was a green sign. But, after a few accidents, the area was closed off. Now it is open again but it is not encouraged to walk along it.

Here is a closer look at The Needle nerves test. You don’t want to do this if it’s wet!

The Needle nerves test at the top of the Pinnacles Lookout walk Only1invillage
Do The Needle test of nerves at your own peril. It’s a balancing act and a test of nerves. For safety reasons it is not recommended and not promoted, but, you can make up your own mind!

Before you leave for the trek back down, grab a bite to eat or get eaten by a rock!

Admire the rock formations at the Pinnacles Only1invillage
Grab a bite to eat or get eaten by a rock at the top of The Pinnacles. Explore the relatively flat top, before you head back down to the Wonderland car park.

                                          

Boroka Lookout 6kms one way on foot hard grade about 2 hours each way or 90metres from the car park

This picture of what you should see is from Quincy Lee (Qlee679) we contacted him for his permission from Flickr. It has been taken from the viewing platform. We think you’ll agree it is awesome!

Boroka Lookout courtesy of Quincy Lee via Flickr Only1invillage
Boroka Lookout. Photo courtesy of Quincy Lee via Flickr.

Boroka Lookout sign Only1invillage
The Boroka Lookout is a difficult 6kms one way if you do it on foot. This will lead you down to the botanical gardens in Halls Gap.

You will definitely need your goat trekking legs for this walk. From the Venus Baths area it’s 6kms of tough going. The first 3kms seem “easy” but, don’t be fooled. As you climb, the terrain gets more and more difficult. On our walk it was misty and foggy the whole way, hence the lack of pictures. We could barely see our own hands at some points of the scramble. 

Luckily this walk can be approached the easy way too. Drive to a car park and walk 90 metres.

Boroka Lookout possible access points from Venus Baths at the foothills of the Grampians
The Boroka Lookout can be accessed from the Venus Baths. It’s an arduous uphill trek- be warned!

The lookout area is fenced off, but it hasn’t deterred those Instagram people from taking selfies and getting others to take pictures of them on the dangerous ledge. The day we went was misty and foggy and we couldn’t see a thing!

Boroka Lookout on a foggy day Only1invillage
Boroka Lookout in the fog. Not what you see on Instagram!

If you look carefully at our Chataqua Peak walk pictures, you will see a very similar view. Bellfield Lake and the valley below.

                                          

The Balconies 2kms one way from A car park easy walk

Easy half hour walk (2kms one way) through flat forest and gigantic rocks from the Reed Lookout car park.

The Balconies aka the Jaws of Death Only1invillage
The Balconies also known as the Jaws of Death. Now closed off due to several fatal falls. Those Instagram shots you see are either very old or illegal.

The Balconies used to be called the Jaws of Death. Either because they look like the jaws of a giant dinosaur, or, because people have actually died here. Whichever story you want to believe, it is a dramatic rock formation, which can be viewed safely from a viewing platform.

The Jaws of Death ONly1invillage Grampians blog
The spectacular rock formation of the Jaws of Death. Also known as the Balconies. Catch this breathtaking view safely from the viewing platform. You can also see down into the valley of lush forest, from this bird’s eye viewpoint.

You can drive up Mount WIlliam Road and see the Jaws of Death from a viewing platform. You used to be able to go on there and take pictures, but, not anymore. If you see shots of this on Instagram, it’s because of illegal activity, old pictures or clever photography.

forest valley view from Reeds Lookout Grampians Only1invillage blog
Looking down onto the lush green valley of forest from Reeds Lookout.

Before you get to the Balconies, there is a lovely flat walk across some very interesting terrain and really good views towards Lake Wartook. Park your car at the Reed Lookout car park and look for the signs. to The Balconies.

The Grampians 7 days of wonderful walks 2
Magnificent vistas towards Lake Wartook in the distance. As you head towards The Balconies, these round, flat rocks are unmissable.

                                          

Silverband Falls 0.8km one way flat gravel path

This is an easy walk from the car park. In fact, this is the easiest walk we did. It was completely flat! Sing hallelujah!

Silverband Falls a quick walk from the car park Only1invillage blog
A quick walk will lead you to Silverband Falls.

SIlverbandFalls an easy walk from the car park Only1invillage blog
The Silverband Falls. This is the easiest walk we ever did! A flat gravel path from the car park. A quickie, but, a goodie!

Day 5 of our wonderful walks of the Grampians

                                        

Lake Bellfield Tunnel Walk – medium grade 

A surprisingly beautiful walk with water views. From the name we thought you could go through some tunnels for the walk, but, no. You can see and hear a tunnel for water, but, you won’t be walking through it.

The walk starts near Pomonal, from the imaginatively named Tunnel Walk car park.

Bellfield Lake view from the ridge of the Tunnel Walk
The beauty of Bellfield Lake awaits. Seen from the ridge above on the Tunnel Walk.

This is where you can start the walk. There are other alternatives if you want to go on further.

Bellfield Lake walk sign starts at the car park only1invillage 7 days of wonderful walks the Grampians
Bellfield Lake can be reached in a mere 1.5 hours one way, from the car park at Pomonal.

Car park for the Bellfield Lake Tunnel Walk Only1invillage Grampians walks
Yup, that’s where you’re leaving your car to start the Bellfield Lake walk.

OK, head on up the steps and it is a gentle uphill walk for about 20 minutes.

start terrain of the Bellfield Lake walk
From the car park it is a gentle upward slope to start the Bellfield Lake walk. 

As this walk is not very popular and we are out of season, we only see 5 other people. For most of the walk, we are on our own and free to imitate the bird noises and make silly echo sounds. We don’t expect this walk to be as beautiful as it is. The lake itself is on par with some of the best New Zealand lakes in terms of beauty. At this point the scenery looks very much like Magnetic Island, in the far north of Queensland. This is an island where we have also covered every major walk.

Forest and low land views on the Bellfield Lake walk Only1invillage
This pretty mush your view for 45 minutes of the Bellfield Lake walk. Don’t turn around, the view will be amazing very soon!

glimpse Bellfield Lake in the distance Only1invillage
45 minutes later you’ll get your first glimpse of beautiful Bellfield Lake.

4x4 track towards Lake Bellfield Only1invillage
By the time you see this 4 x 4 track you’re about to see the beautiful Lake Bellfield up close and personal.

Bellfield Lake panorama Only1invillage
Hello Bellfield Lake, Only1invillage has arrived……Praise be!

Beautiful Bellfield Lake Only1invillage
Beautiful Bellfield Lake. It’s got a beach!

Bellfield Lake reflection Only1invillage
The beautiful reflection of Bellfield Lake captured by us the only ones here!

log at Bellfield Lake Only1invillage
Looks like a good log to sit on for lunch, at Bellfield Lake.

Bellfield Lake trees Only1invillage
We are fascinated by the scenery at Bellfield Lake, particularly these trees.

                                        

Heatherlie Quarry

Heatherlie Quarry Only1invillage
Heatherlie Quarry is a nice easy flat short walk into history.

A fascinating glimpse into quarry life with rusting machinery and some original sandstone houses for the workers. We learn a lot about stone splitting and marvel how anyone could have lived out here in the wilderness. Ah, the good old days.

Heatherlie Quarry landscape scenery Only1invillge blog
This is where your granite comes from! A quarry landscape in the Grampians.

As you walk around the area you start to appreciate the hard work that goes into making your kitchen bench top!

Rusting machinery at the Heatherlie QUarry Grampians Only1invillage blog
Rusting machinery of an bygone era. Heatherlie Quarry is an informative trip down memory lane.

There is even a little village, where the workers used to stay in “the bush”.

Heatherlie Quarry workers' village Only1invillage
The workers’ cottages at Heatherlie Quarry. Located right next to the granite boulders that have been used in some of Melbourne’s most iconic buildings, such as Parliament House, The State Library and Melbourne Town Hall. We are proud to say that in this village we are the only ones in the village!

The walls are very thick sandstone. Wonder why they weren’t made of granite? Many of Melbourne City’s greatest buildings we discover have been made from granite from this quarry. Well fancy that, you live and learn!

Heatherlie Quarry sandstone houses for the workers Grampians Only1invillage blog
J is forever trying to tell me it’s prime real estate. You can have granite floors AND granite walls when we renovate, he says!

interior of a worker's cottage Heatherlie Quarry Grampians Only1invillage blog
Well the interior needs a bit of a refurbishment! Heatherlie Quarry offers a fascinating glimpse into history.

There are information boards everywhere, painting a detailed picture of the working quarry.

Heatherlie Quarry information boards are jam packed with fascinating facts Only1invillage
Well now we know how to cut a stone properly! The information boards are dotted around Heatherlie Quarry and provide fascinating facts and information about the past. We learned a lot here!

Day 6 sore but soldiering on for our Grampians guide

                                        

Mount Rosea Official time 2 hours each way

Mount Rosea is 4.6 kms one way. It is medium to hard grade with a lot of rock scrambling and hard to see markers in places. The cardio workout of our dreams and totally worth it!

Mount Rosea peak Only1invillage blog
Mount Rosea Peak viewing platform. Take in the 360 degree views of the Mount William and Serra ranges. This hike is hard!

This walk is challengingly beautiful. Make sure you tell your accommodation or someone you’re doing this. People have had to be rescued on this walk.

Mount Rosea sign 4.6kms from the car park Only1invillage
The Mount Rosea walk starts at the Mount Rosea car park. This is the most challenging walk you’ll do in the northern Grampians region. Are you ready for it?

Don’t be fooled by the gently sloping first 1.6kms through lush forest and ferns.

lush fern and forest start of Mount Rosea walk Only1invillage blog
The Mount Rosea walks starts through lush fern and forest on flat ground. Don’t be fooled. It’s going to get a hell of a lot harder!

Mount Rosea walk needle grass Only1invillage
Needle grass is a pain in the arse! The greenery at the start of the Mount Rosea walk in the beautiful forest.

This took us 5 hours return and there is plenty of rock scrambling. It was by far the most challenging walk. We wish we had done this walk first, so all the other walks, would have seemed much easier.

After the beautiful messmate forest, you’re on a gradual ascent.  40 minutes later the terrain changes to sand! By now you have covered 1.3kms.

Mount Rosea sign after 1.3kms of walking from the car park Only1invillage blog
40 minutes after leaving the car park you will be here. Look down at your feet!

Mount Rosea walk suddenly there's sand only1invillage blog
At the 1.3kms section the terrain changes to sand for a bit! We’re heading to a beach?!!

Well that doesn’t seem so bad. A good start. and the sun is shining. We still haven’t seen anyone else. There’s about 20 minutes of this type of terrain (see below) and then things start to change. Even though it’s fairly flat you still have to look out for these yellow markers. They will be invaluable as all rocks start to look the same!

Mount Rosea yellow markers only1invillage
The terrain now has lots of big flat rocks and tree roots to trip you up. Keep an eye out for the yellow triangles, because pretty soon, things are going to get tough!

20 minutes later the going gets tough, but still smiling.

keep going Mount Rosea Walk Only1invillage
You’re starting to get a sense of how high you’re going when you get to this point. Mount Rosea walk. The familiar Serra and Mount William ranges are in the background.

walking amongst clouds Mount Rosea walk Only1invillage
The stunning natural beauty of walking in the clouds. Mount Rosea walk about an hour in.

Now the real rock scrambling begins and some of the rocks are like climbing apparatus in the gym! If ever you think hiking isn’t a good workout, come and do this walk. Our hearts are racing, our legs are aching and now we have to use our hands too!

Mount Rosea rock scrambling cardio workout Only1invillage
Now the fun begins! Rock scrambling at its best! This is a serious cardio workout the Mount Rosea walk.

Mount Rosea horse riding Only1invillage blog
Time for some horse riding! You know when you start to feel giddy and things look strange. C thinks she has found a horse to get to the peak! Yee hah! Mount Rosea walk, the Grampians.

At the 1 hour and 40 minutes minute mark we decide to stop for lunch. The lunch stop is a great time to marvel at the absolutely jaw dropping scenery enveloping us.

Lunch stop 1 hour and 50 minutes in to the Mount Rosea walk Only1invillage
Time to sit and stop the trembling legs! The majestic mountain scenery 1 hour and 50 minutes into the Mount Rosea walk.

Lunch pit stop on the Mount Rosea walk Grampians Only1invillage
Lunch view on the way to Mount Rosea peak. Could the view get any better?

As you rest, it’s good to look out for natural markers. As you’re ascending it’s easy to think you’ll remember your route on the way down, but, those rocks, will all start blending in to each other! Take the time to photograph some natural markers and look at the time stamp.

Bright rock vegetation at our pit stop for lunch on the ascent to Mount Rosea.. Grampian walks only1invillage.
It’s a good idea to look for natural markers on the way up and down from Mount Rosea. It easily all starts looking the same, so, a burst of colour is a welcome sight. Take a photo and make a note of the time.

sandstone relief Grampians Mount Rosea walk Only1invillage
It’s not all granite in the Grampians. You’ll be clambering over amazing sandstone boulders (not rocks) on the Mount Rosea walk.

Rested and rejuvenated, we hear some people coming up behind us! Hurrah, we are not alone! We like to look at their faces and see if they are panting and sweating too. Come on, you know you do that too, when you pass fellow hikers!

Mount Rosea challenging walk Grampians Only1invillage blog
You’re kidding! You have to squeeze through that small hole? Yep! Mind your head.

At the 2 hour point we almost give up. It’s been really hard and the rock scrambling is some of the toughest for a continuous 45 minute period.

Huge boulders to get over on the MOunt rosea walk Grampians only1invillage
The size of the boulders you have to get over on the Mount Rosea walk. It’s going to be worth the sweeping views at the top.

Lake Bellfield view on the Mount Rosea walk
This looks like a peak! Mount Rosea walk a lakeview (Bellfield) from high up. You’re not there yet, still another half hour to go!

We feel the oxygen deprivation and not seeing many people come down is not very uplifting. Finally we see 2 other hikers who tell us we’re nearly there about half an hour and the view is worth it. It had better be!

MOunt Rosea walk 2 hours in Grampians blog only1invillage
J surveys the landscape after being told we’re half an hour away. By this point we have been walking 2 hours and the weather is getting colder and windier. That’s Mount Rosea in the distance to the right. Ok, so down we go!

half an hour to go to the Mount Rosea Peak only1invillage
We see two other hikers returning from the peak. They tell us it is only another half hour from here. The path isn’t obvious. Keep looking out for the yellow triangular markers.

Mount Rosea chimney rocks that's our nameonly1invillage
This part looks like a dead end. You go through the “chimney” rocks as we name them.

Rock window view half 25 minutes to go to Mount Rosea peak Only1invillage
There’s a handy rock shelter with a beautiful window view, if it starts to rain!

We remember our accommodation manager telling us to look out for the bridge and don’t look down, if you’re scared of heights. Well it’s a bit late now! We are glad to see the bridge because it means we’re on the right path.

The valley bridge on the Mount Rosea walk 20 mins to destination Only1invillage
The valley bridge means you’re 20 minutes away from the Mount Rosea peak. If you don’t like heights, don’t look down, just run across. At least it isn’t a suspension bridge!

J is brave and stops to take some scenery shots on the bridge.

View from the valley bridge on the Mount Rosea walk Only1invillage
The view form the bridge, which plunges over 900 metres below you. Around 20 minutes to destination Mount Rosea peak!

squeezing through boulders Mount Rosea walk Only1invillage
Seriously we have to squeeze through here? This is a good physical marker to remember.

Trees on Mount Rosea walk nearly at the peak. Only1invillage
Well if the trees can survive up here, so can we!

Apparently we’re so close……

elephant skin rocks mean you're close to the Mount Rosea peak Only1invillage
This is the 2 hour 20 minutes point. The rocks look like an elephant’s skin. We saw 2 more people coming down! We’re close to the Mount Rosea peak!

Apparently we’re really close!

100 metres to go to the peak of Mount Rosea Only1invillage
Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Is there a sign? Please tell us we’re close to the Mount Rosea peak!

It’s been an epic 2 and a half hours but we make it! We’re 1009 metres up and above the cloud line!

Like we said earlier, we wish we had done this walk first because it’s hard and it is the 6th day of non- stop hiking for us. It’s really windy at the top. For video footage of the views at the summit, go to our Instagram page.

Mount Rosea viewing platform Only1invillage
On the Mount Rosea viewing platform. This is the amazing view 1009 metres high from the bottom.

Is it worth it? Hell yeah! Are we tired? Hell yeah! Doing another hike tomorow? Hell yeah!  All we have to do now is find our way back down before it gets dark! See you at the bottom.

Day 7 We are victorious in Gariwerd- Grampians National Park

                                        

Mount William 

1.8kms one way uphill, quite steep. It should take 45 minutes to one hour each way.

Sunrise shot on Mount William Grampians Only1invillage
Catch a breathtaking sun rise at Mount William in the Grampians national Park. 1167 metres above sea level. The highest point in the Grampians. The best place to get 360 degree panoramas of the entire Grampians peaks, lowlands and highlands.

To get to Mount William you need to drive to a car park called…..OK you got it, Mount WIlliam Car Park.

Mount William car park Only1invillage
Park in the Mount William car park for the walk to er… Mount William.

1.8kms to the top of Mount William sign Only1invillage
What there’s strenuous walking involved! Thanks for the warning. At least there’s no rock scrambling, we’re a little sick of that after yesterday’s Mount Rosea trek.

From here the road is fully paved but you cannot drive to the summit. It is quite a steep ascent and you should be at the top in 45 minutes. This walk offers splendid views of the mountain ranges from various angles.

Walking up to Mount William you will see the other ranges you have conquered in the Grampians Only1invillage
The Mount William walk is a chance to see the other ranges you have conquered in the distance.

counting off the various peaks on the walk up to Mount William Grampians Only1invillage
J counts off the peaks we have climbed over the last 7 days on the way up to Mount William, where you will see them all!

walking up towards Mount William view of other ranges Only1invillage Grampians blog
As you walk up towards Mount William you can tick off the other peaks you have climbed! Yep, did that one, been there, saw that one……..

Mount William commemoration stone ONly1invillage
Now you know why it’s called Mount William!

Right where to next? We decide to drive one hour south and head to a famous bakery that apparently has the best sourdough bread. Well let’s see shall we?

After a very pleasant lunch with very good sourdough, a pie, some salad and some good coffee it’s time for another walk! We decide on a short one called un-politically correctly, The Picaninny. We’re not here to judge the names of the walks, we’re just there to walk them.

                                        

The Picaninny 2.4kms return 1 to 1.5 hours easy to medium grade

sudden turn for the picanninny walk South Grampians Only1invillage
When you see the brown sign for the picaninny walk do a sudden turn!

There’s no car park for this walk, you have to look out for the sign. Actually, later we discover there is a car park, but it is up a very steep hill and we don’t have an all terrain vehicle. We park at the bottom.

Picaninny green sign South Grampians Only1invillage
The green sign for the easy to medium shortish walk to the Picaninny. This is a 45 minutes drive from Halls Gap. It is classed as the southern Grampians.

start the picaninny walk nice and flat Southern Grampians only1invillage
The start of the Picaninny walk is nice and flat. You go through some nice bushland. Watch out for the wallabies. We got our best joey shot from this walk.

As you walk in the southern Grampians, you will see Mount Sturgeon towering above you, to your right. We’ll have to save that walk for a return visit. It looks pretty high up!

Mount Sturgeon view on the way to the picaninny Southern Grampians only1invillage
Walking up to the Picninny you see Mount Sturgeon towering over the southern Grampians. That mountain is for a return visit!

wallaby spotting on the picaninny walk southern grampians
Wallaby spotting on the way to the picaninny.

easy walk to the top of the Picaninny southern Grampians only1invillage
Another peak conquered! Well actually, Mount Sturgeon is the one in the distance. This is it the top of the Picaninny.

J surveys his kingdom from the picaninny southern grampians Only1invillage
Lord J surveys his kingdom high up on the Picaninny. Looking down onto the farmland below. Southern Grampians near Dunkeld.

                                        

Fyans Creek Loop Walk 2.5kms easy grade

This walk starts where the Boronia Peak Walk starts as is effortlessly flat! This is the best place to see emu, wallabies and kangaroos. Not same same. Wallabies are like smaller kangaroos, so, OK, kind of similar!

emus at Halls Gap Fyans Creek Loop walk Only1invillage
Emus hanging around on the Fyans Creek Loop Walk northern Grampians near Halls Gap. They’re quite timid birds. They keep running away as we approach.

Fyans Creek Loop walk
The Fyans Creek Loop Walk is easy and flat. A perfect end to a week of strenuous hiking in the Grampians.

Fyans Creek Loop walk Only1invillage
The familiar ranges seen in the distance on the Fyans Creek Loop walk. We look up and say to ourselves, “we climbed that!”

 

That’s the end of our guide to some of the fantastic walks the northern Grampians has to offer. Time to go back to the big smog, but first, food!

Pomonal Estate Winery (see further below for pictures)- Well after a fabulous week of walking the Grampians, we need a good winery estate lunch, before heading back to the big smog. This place did not disappoint. Cosy, cute, good food and beer paddle tasting, what else can J want?

Grampians Estate winery – The Grampians area is fast becoming a destination for great wine. So when we see the sign for the not so imaginatively named Grampians Estate Winery, we have to stop for a sample or two. A lovely modern tasting room where you can also get lunch or light snacks.

Back to Melbourne we go!

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Our Top Tips for walking in the Grampians

Do the hardest hike first, then everything else will seem easier. Looking back we wish we had done Mount Rosea first, because compared to that, Boronia Peak was easy! However having said that, you might get muscle soreness if you do the most difficult walk first.

Mount Rosea almost at the peak difficult walk first Only1invillage
If you do the hardest walk first, the others might seem easier. This is 2 hours into the Mount Rosea walk, another half hour to go. This is a difficult hike in terms of terrain and not getting lost.

Wear good shoes or boots if you’re serious about conquering peaks. The terrain is rough with small and large stones, sticking out everywhere to stub those toes and trip you up. Oh and don’t forget about those tree roots, that like to make their presence known too!

layer up for walking in the Grampians only1invillage
It’s four seasons in one day when you go hiking. Layer up, there’s nothing worse than being too cold or too hot.

Layer up for the walks. On the same walk you can wear one layer at the start and pretend you’re sunbathing on a beach, 15 minutes later you need a hat, gloves and that insulated jacket  (Winter hiking like we did).

top tips what to wear hiking the grampians Only1invillage
Layer up and wear sunglasses for the Grampians. One minute it’s like beach weather and the next…….

Take snacks and lots of water. Take your rubbish with you. Wear a back pack/ rucksack for the rock scrambling, you’ll want to keep your hands free.

For Mount Rosea, tell someone. We met a couple who got lost and they told us it took them 7 hours to get back down instead of the 4 to 5 hours, it should take.

Get really good at spotting yellow triangles. You know that saying that “all rocks look the same”? Ok, there isn’t one, but, on some of the less travelled walks it is really confusing and there is no clearly marked trail of footprints to guide you. Keep your eyes peeled for the yellow triangles to guide you. Sometimes it is better to go higher and look back to see where they are.

get good at spotting yellow triangle markers Only1invillage
Get good at spotting the yellow markers in the Grampians. Sometimes you have to step back a bit to see them.

                                      

Indigenous rock art in the Grampians

Indigenous rock art in the Gariwerd (the indigineous people’s name for the Grampians is plentiful and well preserved. The Djab Wurrung and Jardwadjali people have looked after their land for over 20,000 years.

We respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. There are over 200 sites but only 5 are “open” to the public. Each site has been fenced off to protect them from vandalism, so, you can’t get too close and touch them, which is a good thing.

We followed this guide to see all the amazing ancient indigenous rock art.

The Billimina and Majna rock art sites

Billimina SHelter rock art location map
Billimina Shelter is quite difficult to get to. Located in the heart of the Grampians national park.

Inside the Wartook valley the Billimina Shelter can be found along The Goat walk. It’s quite difficult to get to due to the narrow and twisting roads. From the Buandik picnic and camping area, it should take about 15 minutes. It is a steady uphill walk. Drive on 10 mins from the Buandik picninc site and you can see the famous “hands” (manja – pronunced man-yar) rock art.

Bunjil Shelter – Stawell

Bunjil's shelter location map Grampians 7 days of wonderful walks
Bunjil’s Shelter is closest to the large town of Stawell. Inside the Black Range Scenic Reserve.

Located in the Black Range scenic reserve the Bunjil Shelter is amazingly well preserved. This site is an easy walk from the car park.

The Grampians has an abundance of indigenous rock art sites Bunjil shelter Stawell
The amazing Bunjil shelter near Stawell in the Grampians. Bunjil is the creator of the world, people, plants and animals.

                                      

Grampians wildlife

Eastern grey kangaroos are everywhere in the Grampians
The Eastern Grey kangaroos are very docile. They are used to having their photograph taken. Humans, hey, have they never seen a group of kangaroos relaxing before?

The eastern grey kangaroos are everywhere. They come up to you in car parks, they wait patiently on the lawn and they hop around the grass lands, sometimes waiting to cross the road. These iconic Australian animals will be the most common sighting along with wallabies, their marsupial cousins.

A joey and wallaby in the Grampains, Victoria, Australia
Wallabies, the kangaroos’ smaller cousins are a common sighting. Not so common is to see a joey peeking out of a pouch! Awwww!

Possums will make their presence known in the trees above you. A rarer sighting will be squirrel and feather tailed gliders. But, good news sugar gliders often jump between trees when dark.

Beware of the snakes!!!! Eeek – poisonous types are known to be in the Grampians – the red bellied black, brown, tiger and copperheads. These short fanged reptiles are not ones you want to boast on your Instagram profile! Luckily we didn’t see any.

Grampains wild goat mountain trekking near the Venus Baths Halls Gap
A wild mountain goat seen trekking near the Elephant’s Hide, Venus Baths, Halls Gap.

We were surprised to see some deer in the forest foothills.

wild deer near Fyans Creek The Grampains, Victoria, Australia
Wild deer seen near Fyans Creek, Grampians.

Unfortunately Australia’s most unique monotreme, the duck billed platypus will be a rare sighting near the rivers in the Grampians. You’re more likely to hear Pobblebonk frogs, especially after fresh rainfall.

                                      

Food and produce

food and products of the Grampians at Seppelt winery
The food and produce of the Grampians is always locally sourced and produced.

There are plenty of wineries and some fantastic produce that only the clean air of the Grampians can produce. Before lunch we had to do a quick stop at the famous Seppelt winery. There’s no lunch here but a small cafe and a cheese platter option. They also do guided tours of their underground cellars. Book in advance. 

wine tasting at Seppelt Great Western near the Grampians region
Wine tasting at Seppelt winery is complimentary. Usually wineries charge $5 for tastings redeemable if you buy a bottle.

The Toscana (not in Italy as the name may suggest!) olive plantation produces fantastic olives and award winning olive oils including extra virgin.

Red Rock Olives A family owned estate specialising in , yep, you got it, olives!

Red Rock Olives serves lunch and of course you can buy olive products. Only1invillage
Red Rock Olives, Pomonal. A gorgeous platter made from local produce. Of course you can also buy olives, olive oil and olive flavoured salt.

The Pomonal Estate is worth a visit. Offering beer and cider tastings in addition to home made cakes and cheese platters. How can you say no? Only open until 5pm, except on Fridays, the only dinner day. so make sure you book in for a lunch time slot.

Pomonal Estate has a cosy feel Grampians Onlly1invillage
The cosy interior of the Pomonal Wine Estate. Bookings essential. Ring in advance to double check your booking.

Pomonal Estate winery open for lunch Grampians dining Only1invillage
Pomonal Estate winery serves great food in a cosy atmosphere. They also have beer paddle tasting.

beer tasting at the Pomonal Wine Estate Grampians Only1invillage
Beer tasting. Why have one when you can have 10? Pomonal Wine Estate Grampians.

dessert Pomonal Wine estate grampians Only1invillage
Desserts use local produce at the Pomonal Wine Estate, Grampians, Victoria.

Grampians Estate Winery – offers big and little snacks. Wine has been produced in the Grampians for over 150 years. Sweets and coffee in a very modern setting. Wine tastings are self guided. This winery is known for its Shiraz and sparkling wines. 

The Grampians winery Grampians Only1invillage blog
The Grampians Estate Winery is just off the main road back to Melbourne. One for the road?

Grampians Estate winery Only1invillage
Award winning Grampians Estate winery. The cellar door offers self guided wine tastings. Also local produce and cheese platters for a bite to eat.

                                      

Places to Eat in the Grampians

We tried a lot of eating places!

The Wickens at the Royal Mail Hotel Dunkeld. A 2 hat restaurant with 3 digit figure prices. A kitchen garden and farm produce with an award winning chef. Degustation menu 190 with matching wines an additional 130. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 they were closed when we  visited. There’s a cheaper version to the fine dining option. The Parker Street Project offers 3 course meals for a more reasonable price. It is now open though!

The Spirit of Punjab Indian restaurant – good Indian food, comfortable chairs. No pictures sorry. Very good value and nice and spicy!

The Views restaurant – rubbish – don’t bother- overly confident reviews on Google. NO atmosphere. Despite the food looking good here, the taste – meh! Overpriced too.

The Views restaurant Halls Gap Only1invillage
The Views restaurant Halls Gap. While it looked good, it was yuk. It also cost over $100. Avoid in our opinion. As it was dinner time, there was no view.

Rock, Paper Scissors brewery – Good cafe bistro meals. 

Paper Rock Scissors Brewery Halls Gap Only1invillage where to eat
Paper Rock Scissors Brewery in Halls Gap. Serves up tasty bistro style dishes like lamb backstrap for a good price.

Sen Vietnamese restaurant connected to Darcy’s restaurant and accommodation. Nothing to write home about. Not great, not awful. Good service and generous portions. Well priced food and alcohol. Not photo worthy we’re afraid.

Halls Gap Hotel Bistro – Good pub grub and good prices to match. Lovely roaring real log fires.

Halls Gap Hotel Bistro Only1invillage
Good old fashioned pub grub at the Halls Gap Hotel Bistro. Great friendly service and open log fires. Just what you need after a Winter’s day hiking.

The old bakery Dunkeld – supposedly the best sourdough in the country!

Dunkeld bakery best sourdough in Australia?Only1invillage
Is it the best sourdough in Australia? That’s what the Dunkeld Bakery says. Come and judge for yourself!

Well, that’s it for our blog on some of the amazing walks you can do in the are near Halls Gap. Known as the northern Grampians, it is an area of outstanding natural beauty. There’s something for everyone here. Drawing visitors from around the world, we do hope we have inspired you to come down, lace up those boots and see some countryside just 3 hours drive from Victoria’s capital city, Melbourne.

bye in the Grampians south from C and J Only1invillage
We sincerely hope you have enjoyed our blog and find it informative. We are happy to report that due to going out of season, for the most part, we were the Only1invillage! Bye for now!

Next time we’ll take on the South, East and West Grampians! It’s bye for now from The Grampians. Christina and Jason. 

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The Grampians 7 days of wonderful walks 3

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that wanaka tree courtesy of @jayeoz south island new zealand

Unmissable South Island New Zealand 14 day itinerary

Join us on our South Island New Zealand road trip!  We tell you where to go and what to see on our unmissable 14 day itinerary to South Island, New Zealand. The land of the long white cloud, Aotearoa, in the Maori language will leave you speechless.

Quick Index New Zealand South Island

Amazing South Island New Zealand scenery that will leave you flabbergasted only1invillage
South Island New Zealand is the the land of superlatives. Oh look, another achingly beautiful view to photograph! South Island New Zealand will blow you away.

Where to start? South Island New Zealand is simply amazing. Everything about the place is jaw dropping and fantastic. Startling, staggering, stupefying, breathtaking, stunning and astounding. Mind blowing, thrilling and exciting our 14 day South Island itinerary will leave you with memories that last a lifetime and a huge hole in your pocket!

things to do South Island New Zealand helicopter to Franz Josef Glacieronly1invillage
Well you can’t walk or drive up to the Franz Josef Glacier! A seriously expensive destination.

                  

How much will a 2 week trip around South Island New Zealand cost?

Yep, South Island is expensive! It’s not a cheap destination, even for Australians. For our two week trip we spent just shy of 7000 Australian dollars. The main reason is the car hire, fuel and the astronomic amount of doing adrenaline and non adrenaline activities. OK, we took a helicopter ride which was 400 NZ dollars a person to trek on the Franz Josef Glacier. Plus, we didn’t realise a kayak trip can set you back 200 NZ dollars each! Well, you can’t walk up the Franz Josef Glacier and the water is too cold to swim in, so our hands were tied!

things to do South Island New Zealand shark riding in Queenstownonly1invillage
It’s seriously expensive in South Island New Zealand. This shark ride will shoot you into the air. Then plunge you down into the water. As well as that, you speed along the surface. This will set you back a cool NZD 140 for 15 minutes of fun!

If you do one bungee jump, float on water jet skis, go kayaking and whale watching, go in a speeding submarine, get spun around a lake and wear some flyboard boots, expect that cost to go up another 1000 NZ dollars per person!!

Well South Island New Zealand can’t help it if it has so many attractions. The things to do list just goes on and on. It’s a paradise for nature lovers and a haven for adrenaline junkies. South Island New Zealand has everything you can ever want in a holiday, apart from a cheap getaway!

                  

Getting to and around South Island New Zealand

The main reason why a two week trip is so expensive, is the airfare and the car hire. You simply cannot bring your car across on a ferry! The roads however, are some of the most beautiful in the world and very relaxing to drive on.

driving around South Island New Zealand is why it's expensive. You have to hire some sort of vehicle.
Getting around New Zealand isn’t cheap! Car, camper van or mobile home hire is a big part of the cost on your amazing 14 day South Island itinerary.

New Zealand is literally on the other side of the Earth for most visitors. It’s even further than Australia, which for many is far enough! Even from Asia, you have to add on an extra 3 hours from Melbourne or Sydney in Australia. If you’re coming from Europe or the Americas, you’ll already be feeling the pain of multiple stopovers, once in Asia and then one in Australia.

driving in South Island is picturesque at almost every turn South Island New Zealand
You’ll be doing a lot of driving in South Island. But, with views like this almost everywhere, you can’t complain!

Hiring a camper van or a car is not cheap. Even back packing hostels are not at the rates you would expect. OK, dorm beds can start from as little as 20 USD, but then you still have to hire some form of transport. AN alternative is to book yourself on the many day tours that will pick you up and drop you off from your accommodation. This method, however, does not allow for much flexibility in your itinerary around South Island.

                  

South Island New Zealand Map

14 day south island new zealand itinerary map
Only1invillage’s 14 day itinerary. We flew into Christchurch and out of Queenstown. The blue road route is major destinations and does not include stop offs and diversions.

                  

Here is our itinerary

Day 1 – Fly in to Christchurch

Day 2 – Kaikoura

Day 3 – Nelson area including the winery region of Blenheim

Day 4 – Motueka and the Abel Tasman National Park

Day 6 – Franz Josef Glacier

Day 7 – Te Anau and Milford Sound

Day 9 to 14 – Wanaka and Queenstown

                  

Best time to go to South Island New Zealand

The best time to go to South Island, if you’re not a skier, is November to March. It’s the hottest time of the year, but also the peak season. October and April are great months to go if you’re a keen hiker, as it’s cooler and less crowded. But be prepared at any time of the year for a sudden dramatic change in the weather, especially on hill tops and glaciers. 

Abel Tasman National Park South Island New Zealand things to do only1invillage
You’re not going to see many people if you go in shoulder season to New Zealand. April and September are good shoulder season months to go to South Island New Zealand.

South Island New Zealand weather

South Island New Zealand has a similar climate to North Island New Zealand. Being a southern hemisphere country and sort of Down Under, it is the opposite to Europe and North America. So when it’s Summer in South Island New Zealand, it’s Winter in Europe. It is more similar to Tasmania in Australia. It rains a lot in New Zealand and the ‘land of the long white cloud’ is very lush and green, most of the time. Of course, in recent years, climate change has meant drier Summers than usual.

Best time to go to SOuth Island Spring and Autumn
Spring and Autumn colours are resplendent on South Island New Zealand. Less tourists and better prices in the shoulder season. Avoid Summer which is December to February in the Southern hemisphere.

                  

Christchurch

Christchurch is not the capital of South Island, New Zealand. Wellington is the capital of both islands, the whole of New Zealand. Christchurch has been a very unlucky city. Due to its location on the Ring of Fire, earthquakes have been a constant threat. Since 1888 Christchurch has suffered terribly from its geographical positioning along tectonic plates. 

In more recent times, 2010 and 2011, two earthquakes have struck the region. The 2010 earthquake’s epicentre was 37kms west of Christchurch. A bone chilling 7.1 was recorded on the Richter scale. The effects were felt in Christchurch, but it is more accurately called the Canterbury earthquake. 

In 2011 the most devastating earthquake to life and buildings happened. Even though it was smaller than the 2010 earthquake, the 6.3 magnitude reading killed 185 people and injured several thousands. Today, Christchurch still has not fully recovered. There’s still lots of construction going on, but, the shipping containers have gone.

                  

Kaikoura Whale Watching

What could be more exhilarating than getting up close and personal to theses majestic beasts of the ocean? If you have never seen a whale up close then this could be the place! Unfortunately when we were there, whales had not been seen for 3 days. Always check with the  company you book with and ask locals. It is not a guaranteed sighting, just because they offer a whale watching tour from Kaikoura. Sometimes you can also kayak and swim with dolphin pods.

Kaikoura is a lovely sea side town with great walks and cycling tracks if you want to stay dry. We loved the Fyffe-Palmer Track that had some forest and farmland views. You can also visit a lavendar farm or go quad biking on a working farm.

              

Abel Tasman National Park Kayaking

Abel Tasman National Park South Island New Zealand things to do only1invillage
Escape to the Abel Tasman National Park where the air is clean and the water pure.

The Abel Tasman national park is huge and beautiful.

Abel Tasman National Park South Island New Zealand things to do only1invillage
Explore the golden sandy beaches of the Abel Tasman National Park.

You can walk the beautiful beaches, kayak with the seals and go hiking.

Unmissable South Island New Zealand 14 day itinerary 4
Explore the pristine bays of Abel Tasman National Park. This is Kaiterteri Bay.

Whatever you choose to do here, it’s just going to take your breath away. Abel Tasman Park is rugged, untouched, pristine and the epitome of what a national park should be.

Abel Tasman National Park South Island New Zealand things to do only1invillage
Hiking is just one of the options in the Abel Tasman National Park.

You cannot bring your dog. Sorry, canine lovers. You also cannot light fires of any kind – beach fires or barbecues.

Abel Tasman National Park South Island New Zealand things to do only1invillage
There’s plenty of active things to do in the Abel Tasman National Park, South Island, New Zealand. Hire a kayak for some seal spotting in the pristine turquoise waters.

As we were staying in nearby Motueka, we decided to do the half day Kayak tour. You get picked up from your hotel, a guided water taxi and kayak tour with the ever friendly Kiwi guides. 

Abel Tasman National Park South Island New Zealand things to do only1invillage
J modelling a very fetching Kayak ‘skirt’ which keeps your legs dry. We have to say it is the most comfortable kayak with padded back rest too!
Abel Tasman National Park South Island New Zealand things to do only1invillage
Get ready to see some seals. See the island over there? Yup, that’s where we’re kayaking to!
Abel Tasman National Park South Island New Zealand things to do only1invillage
Paddle harder J, I see some seals! The Abel Tasman National Park is the perfect place to get up close and personal with seals.
Abel Tasman National Park South Island New Zealand things to do only1invillage
The seals off Kaiteriteri Beach in the Abel Tasman National Park are a mere paddle away.
Unmissable South Island New Zealand 14 day itinerary 5
Hmmm we wonder why this formation is called Split Apple Rock? We’ve got it, it loos like an apple, that has been split! Geniuses!

It’s a bit like in Australia where you have Beach Street and guess what? It’s a street running along the beach! How about 7 mile creek? How long do you think the creek is??!! What about the famous 3 Sisters rocks in Blue Mountains, near Sydney? What do you reckon about how many rocks you will see? Hmm, that’s a toughie!

              

Punakaiki and Pancake Rocks and Blowhole

This is a stop that you must not miss along the road from Motueka to Franz Josef along the No.6 State Highway.

Punakaiki rocks don't miss it on the National Highway 6 between Motueka and Franz Josef
Punakaiki rocks on the edge of Paparoa National Park. Shaped by millions of years of wave erosion pounding against the land.

                  

Franz Josef Glacier

What is a glacier?

A glacier is a dynamic environment  of frozen snow characterised by freezing temperatures. When  snow has fallen and compacted into ice sheets over time, it is called a glacier. Glaciers, like rivers can ‘move’ or flow. They can retreat and they can grow. Sadly, due to global warming, they are retreating more than they are growing.

The best time to visit the Franz Josef glacier is on a clear, sunny day. The weather can change in a matter of minutes. You can book the night before and suddenly you’ll get a call that the helicopter cannot go because of rain or high winds. 

Peters Pool Franz Josef Glacier in the background
In the township of Franz Josef itself there is this stunning view of the glacier. Peters Pool is easily accessed by car and is an easy 1.1km track suitable for all ages.

                  

Best time to go to Franz Josef Glacier

In terms of the season to go to the glacier, it’s open all year round! If you want fewer people you go in the southern hemisphere Winter (June to August inclusive). The best time to go depends on what you want to get out of the experience and how much you’ll be paying for accommodation. Peak season is the southern hemisphere Summer (December to March inclusive). There’ll be more people to jostle with and you’ll have to wake up earlier for those selfies!

Franz Josef glacier helicopter the only way to get onto the glacier South Island New Zealand only1invillage
There’s no walking onto the Franz Josef Glacier. The only way to go is by helicopter. Your experienced guides will meet you on the ice.

The Franz Josef Glacier is a world heritage area.You cannot walk there to the glacier. It is helicopter only. You cannot go on a self guided tour either, you must join a tour group. Experienced guides will meet you on the glacier and explain the formation and ever changing environment of this glacial wonderland. 

Unmissable South Island New Zealand 14 day itinerary 6
Get back to the Ice Age! Franz Josef Glacier, South Island New Zealand.

There is a challenging walk you can do along a riverbed to see the foothills of the glacier. This is called the Franz Josef walk. Like Split Apple Rock, which is a rock, which looks like an apple that has been split, the Kiwis love simplicity. The walk is in Franz Josef and that’s what you do, so they call it the Franz Josef walk! Love it!

On the glacier you will be met with blue tinged ice caves, bright blue ice rivers and of course mountains covered in pure white snow. Watch out for the huge crevasses!

Ice hole on Franz Josef Glacier South Island New Zealand
Magnificent blue ice holes you don’t want to fall down! Stay with your experienced glacier guide at all times on the Franz Josef Glacier.

As you ascend to the glacier you will see the stunning sub tropical ferns and gradually the landscape changes to grey mountains and then suddenly glaringly bright white mountain slopes.

Franz Josef Glacier contrast in scenery from foothills to glacier fern forest to ice sheets South Island New Zealand only1invillage
Looking out of the helicopter window as you ascend onto the glacier. Look at the magnificent contrast of tropical fern forests, changing to glacial sheets as you near the Franz Josef Glacier. Simply jaw dropping.

It really is a once in a lifetime experience. The Franz Josef Glacier is also retreating, so get there while you can!

feel small on the Franz Josef Glacier SOuth Island New Zealand things to do only1invillage
When you’re on the glacier it’s time to contemplate just how small you are compared to Mother Nature. Franz Josef Glacier, South Island New Zealand.

After a day on the glacier, there’s nothing better than soaking in the glacier hot pools. Whilst not as spacious or gorgeous as the Peninsula Hot Springs Melbourne, they’re good for a spot of people watching.

                  

Ohau Seal Colony and waterfall

If you didn’t get a chance to catch the seals in Kaikoura, you’ll definitely see them at Ohau Point. There’s also a bonus mini waterfall here along an easy stream walk. Currently closed, so always check ahead.

Seal Point Oahu South Island New Zealand
Seal Point Ohau South Island New Zealand, not Hawaaii! You can’t miss this place because suddenly there’s lots of parked cars.

On your way to Blenheim and the wine country, you’ll definitely want to make a quick pit stop. You can’t miss the seal colony at Ohau, because you’ll see lots of parked cars suddenly on the side of the road. The seals are not shy and they just love being photographed!

Seal Point Oahu South Island New Zealand
The seals aren’t shy at Seal Point, Oahu, South Island New Zealand.

After some seal watching, head over the road and see more seals playing in and near the waterfall. Sometimes, they’re a bit more shy and can be hiding around the rocks.

                  

Marlborough, Nelson and Blenheim Wine Region

Cloudy Bay winery South Island New Zealand
Posing in the Cloudy Bay winery, a very popular choice in Australia. With its mild climate and pure mountain base air, the Marlborough wine region is a must visit area of South Island, New Zealand.

Picturesque wineries and gourmet food go hand in hand in the northern wine region. You can spend days here wandering from one vineyard to the next.

Cloudy Bay winery inside gourmet food and wine
Have a lovely lunch in the beautiful Cloudy Bay winery indoors or outdoors.
Cloudy Bay Winery South Island New Zealand
Make an afternoon out of the Cloudy Bay winery. Extensive inside and outside areas to relax and enjoy their fine wines.

Taste a charcuterie platter sitting or swinging (we mean literally on a swing, not the other type!) in the scenic gardens of the famous Cloudy Bay winery in Marlborough.

Time to get silly and start swinging! Relax and play in the massive gardens of the Cloudy Bay winery, South Island, New Zealand.
Time to get silly and start swinging! Relax and play in the massive gardens of the Cloudy Bay winery, South Island, New Zealand.

Who can say no to a sauvignon blanc with notes of bright, ripe citrus, kaffir lime, passionfruit and white peach? The palate is vibrant and mouthwatering, with concentrated, juicy tropical notes melding with zesty citrus, stone fruits and subtle notes of orchard blossom. Now repeat that description after a glass or two!

Cloudy Bay winery in Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand.
Star jumping for joy in the Cloudy Bay winery gardens.

The cellar door experience at Rimu Grove is a typical New Zealand affair. It’s a small, intimate and friendly place.

Rimu Grove winery Nelson South Island New Zealand only1invillage
Rimu Grove winery in Nelson, South Island, New Zealand. A small family run property that offers pizza too.

You can take a seat and enjoy the view overlooking the vineyard. You’re left in peace to sip your pinot gris, pinot noir, chardonnay or riesling. J can attest that the riesling is top notch.

Rimu Grove Nelson South Island New Zealand
An intimate affair at Rimu Grove winery. The knowledgeable staff will make you feel at home. Looks like a back garden made in heaven for J!

                  

Te Anau

Around Te Anau walks
Te Anau offers green forest walks with Hobbitt like scenery. No wonder South Island New Zealand was chosen for much of the Lord of The Rings scenery.

The township of Te Anau has a lot to offer. A lake, of course full of picture perfect viewpoints. Hiking trails, glow worm caves and the home to Middle Earth Fangorn Forest.

suspension bridge Te Anau
Te Anau suspension bridge.

Closer to Milford Sound than Queenstown, it also makes a great base for the 4 day Kepler Track. If you plan on doing the Kepler Track you have to plan and book in advance. You cannot just turn up and start walking! Download this excellent PDF guide here.

                  

Milford Sound

The name Milford Sound is very confusing. It’s not a musical instrument. It is not really connected to sound. It is most accurately compared to a fjord like landscape. So, if you haven’t made it to the Nordic majestic fjord landscapes, this is very similar.

                  

Milford Sound Cruise

Milford Sound South Island New Zealand
Entering the iconic Milford Sound.

The only way to see the Milford Sound is to join a boat cruise. If you’ve been to Niagara Falls, it’s a bit like that but on a smaller scale. The boat will go right up to the waterfall and you will get very wet as you pass underneath. Pray for a clear day as the experience is much better than on a grey, dull day. Also the rainbow effect will be fabulous. You might also want to make sure it has rained. Believe it or not, waterfalls can get dry!

Pray for a sunny day when you go to Milford Sound South Island New Zealand
Milford Sound cruising is a must do experience. The thunderous waterfalls are jaw dropping as you get closer and closer on the comfort of your boat.

Some tour operators will include a pick up from Te Anau, others you can just buy the boat cruise. We went with Eco Tours and a three level catamaran provided by Jucy.  The boat cruise itself starts from $99AUD for adults. Note this departs from the pier in Milford Sound, not Te Anau. It was a good boat experience, but the ride down in the mini bus was slow and uncomfortable. Next time we would drive from Te Anau.

curved and narrow roads to Milford Sound South Island New Zealand
The roads to Milford Sound are curved and narrow.

On the way to Milford Sound there is of course more National Geographic photo opportunities. You will stop off at Mirror Lake.

Unmissable South Island New Zealand 14 day itinerary 7

Mirror Lake on the way to Milford Sound from Te Anau, South Island New Zealand
Hmm wonder why they call this Mirror Lake? On the way to Milford Sound this is included in your itinerary , if you book a one day cruise with transport.

On the way back from Milford Sound is another scenic spot called the Chasm. It’s on the Cleddau River and it’s an easy 400m return trip from the car park.

Unmissable South Island New Zealand 14 day itinerary 8

If you missed out on seals so far, you will definitely see them here at Milford Sound. The boat goes right up to a seal colony who love to pose for the cameras.

Seal colony at Milford Sound Fiordland SOuth Island New Zealand
Healthy seal colony playing in Milford Sound.

                  

Lake Wanaka and The Wanaka Tree!

The Wanaka tree

The famous Wanaka tree. Special thanks to our friend Jason @jayeoz on Instagram. He has amazing photos of Wanaka and other great New Zealand destinations.
The famous Wanaka tree. Breathtakingly beautiful. Captured by our friend @jayeoz on Instagram. Thanks for letting us use your amazing picture!

Who would have thought that a single tree, yes just one tree, would draw visitors from around the world? The small town of Wanaka can come to a standstill at sunset and sun rise as photographers jostle for a picture of “the Wanaka tree”. We shit you not. It’s pretty special. How it survives, we have no idea.

Lake Wanaka is a top tourist hot spot in South Island New Zealand. Well, any lake in New Zealand is a top tourist hot spot! However, this tree is so famous it has its own hashtag #thatwanakatree. Careful how you say it, especially after a few drinks!

The shores of Lake Wanaka SOuth Island breathtaking beauty
We dare you to find a lake in New Zealand that isn’t stunning. On the shore of Lake Wanaka. Photo courtesy of @jayeoz on Instagram.

                  

Fun Things to do in Queenstown

There’s no shortage of fun things to do in Queenstown. The adrenaline capital of South Island. You can easily spend your entire 14 day itinarary based in Queenstown and splash some serious cash. You can get to Milford Sound from Queenstown. Many people come to Queenstown just to ski in The Remarkables area during Winter. It’s also in a strategic position too for Te Anau and Wanaka. On the shores of  beautiful Lake Wakatipu, naturally Queenstown has that Instagram worthy appeal too. 

                  

Queenstown Luge

things to do in South Island New Zealand the Queenstown luge only1invillage
There’s so much to do in South Island New Zealand. Unfortunately, a lot of the activities aren’t free! The Queenstown luge is a must do activity.

The luge in Queenstown is an absolute must. Not only do you get to go down hill at break neck speed on a non- motorised go kart equivalent vehicle, you also get a cable car and a ski lift ride. 6 luge rides and the cable car cost $69 NZ dollars. As their strap line says, “once is never enough”. Don’t miss out on the Queenstown luge. You know you want to beat your nearest and dearest on the track! You can also buy photos of your driving prowess afterwards.

looking down on the luge track Queenstown South Island New Zealand
Now that looks like fun! The curving luge track view from the cable car in Queenstown.

When you get out of the cable car there are magnificent views over Queenstown and on a clear day, the peaks of The Remarkables.

cable car ascent to Queenstown luge
After a fun cable car and ski lift ride, you’re ready to take in the magnificent view of Queenstown. You can see the Remarkables ski area on a clear day.
ski lift ride to the top of the luge track Queenstown South Island
Just when you think there’s no more fun to be had! You can get a ski lift to the top of the luge track after the cable car ride. Or, you can walk.

                  

Millionaire Boat Cruise

Contrary to the name, this is the cheapest attraction in Queenstown. It doesn’t cost a million dollars! This 1 hour 30 minute boat cruise was by far the best bargain of this 14 day trip. So you’ve already dropped $400 for a helicopter ride up to a glacier, what’s another $49? What you see is million dollar houses along the lake shore on a comfortable boat. The captain of the boat is hilarious and provides a very witty commentary on everything about Queenstown.

million dollar cruise Queenstown New Zealand
The million dollar cruise lasts 90 minutes and costs just $NZ49. It’s the cheapest, most entertaining thing you’ll do in expensive Queenstown.

                  

Queenstown Botanic Gardens

Queenstown Botanic Gardens South Island New Zealand
Beautiful and serene, the Queenstown Botanic Gardens.

At last something free to do in Queenstown. You could argue that the whole of Queenstown is like a huge garden, it’s so pretty. However, the dedicated Queenstown Botanic Gardens is a beauty not to be missed. The best time to go and see the colour is of course in Spring. Spring time in Queenstown is September to November. Sit on the soft lawn and walk around the lovely landscaped gardens. Take a picnic and breathe in the aroma of the rose gardens or be soothed by the water feature. Spend at least an hour here, thinking about all the money you have spent so far!

rose gardens and soft manicured lawns Queenstown botanic gardens South Island New Zealand
Ahhh breathe in the sweet smell of FREE . The Queenstown Botanic gardens won’t cost you a thing.

                  

Hiking around Queenstown

hiking around Queenstown South Island New Zealand
The Moonlight track walk is 14kms long. It starts from the top of the gondola where you can do the Queenstown luge.

Good news for hikers, there’s plenty to see in the hills of Queenstown. Most of the walks require you to drive out from Queenstown. There is a walk called the Moonlight Walk which starts from the top of the gondola (luge cable car) and goes for 14kms! It’s not a loop walk so make sure you’re not stuck in the dark.

Moonlight track walk starts here Queenstown South Island New Zealand
The Moonlight track walk starts on a very narrow path. Start the 14kms walk at the top of the gondola ride in central Queenstown.

For more info on Queenstown walks, click here.

We hope you have enjoyed our South Island 14 day trip itinerary. It’s not a cheap one but it’s worth it! For many, South Island, New Zealand will be a once in a lifetime destination. Make the most of it. If you’re lucky enough to live close by, like us, you’ll be a repeat visitor.

Please leave a comment below if you have been to South Island New Zealand. If you need more information or want to ask us anything, we would love to hear from you.

                  

Bar Hopping Queenstown

There is a very happening nightlife in Queenstown from classic pubs to Irish Bars, upmarket wine bars, and ice bar, several clubs and rooftop bars. Settle in at the end of the day for a drink somewhere and you are sure to have a night to remember.

sunset from a rooftop bar in Queenstown
A beautiful sunset from a rooftop bar in Queenstown.

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Grahams Dam walk Lerderberg State Park

Grahams Dam Walk Lerderberg State Park

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.

native forest and Lerderberg River
Native forest and the Lerderberg River. Even within close proximity to Victoria’s capital, Mlebourne, Lerderberg State Park still has that remote feel to it.

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.

Lerderberg State Park map location
Lerderberg Gorge is centrally located between Geelong and Melbourne in the Moorabool Shire, in Bacchus Marsh.

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.

walks information sign at Mackenzie Flat Picninc area
At Mackenzies Flat picninc area, this handy information board details your walk options. There are a surprising number of walks you can do in the Lerderberg State Park.

 

What is there to see and Do on the Grahams Dam Lerderberg Park walk?

Lerderberg State Park is an area of Permian era origins
Surround yourself with fresh air from the native forest on the Grahams Dam Walk in the Lerderberg State Park.

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.

shallow river bed Lerderberg River Lerderberg State Park
On a warm day, head down to the shallow river bed. It’s almost like a mini beach.
beautiful native forest Lerderberg state park
Lose yourself and inhale the fresh air in the beautiful native forest on the Grahams Dam Walk. Hug the paperbark and grey gum trees to your heart’s content. Go on, it’s good for you!

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!

Permian era sandstone rock escarpment Lerderberg State park
Massive stone boulders. A reminder of the Permian era. Yep that rock is about 300 million years old!

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?

Mackenzies Flat Picninc Area sign Lerderberg State Park
Start the easy Grahams Dam Walk from the Mackenzie Flat Picninc area.

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!

Grahams Dam Walk sign Lerderberg State Park
Start the easy walk to Grahams Dam here!

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.

dry river bed in Summer and Autumn Lerderberg River Lerderberg State Park
If you go in Summer and Autumn, the river bed will be dry.

Car Parks: You park at Mackenzies Flat Picnic Area car park.

There are picnic benches here and a big lawn area too.

Mackenzies Flat picninc area Lerderberg State Park Victoria one hour from Melbourne
It’s flat. It’s a picnic area. It’s named after someone called Mackenzies. A nice spot for a picnic or barbecue. There is a free barbecue like in many Victorian state parks.

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.

rocks, river forest at Lerderberg State Park Grahams Dam walk
What a great quick walk! Forest, river and ancient rocks equals awesome.

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.

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Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airport tuk tuk

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. 

transfer between Don Mueang and Suvarnabumhi airport
Getting the transfer bus is very easy. You go to Gate 6 on the same floor you just got your passport stamp from.

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. 

transfer between Don Mueang and Suvarnabumhi airport
The transfer timetable between Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi is clearly displayed outside, at the bus stop.

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.

transfer between Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airport
The bus travels along an elevated road. We don’t encounter much traffic and sit back to enjoy the city views!

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.

transfer between Don Mueang and Suvarnabumhi airport
The air conditioning on the bus is very strong.

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. 

transfer between Don Mueang and Suvarnabumhi airport
At the front of the bus, there is plenty of space for luggage. You don’t need to try and grip the suitcase between your legs!

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.

transfer between Don Mueang and Suvarnabumhi airport
The seats are made of faux leather. You even get a seat belt.
transfer between Don Mueang and Suvarnabumhi airport
The seats on the free transfer bus between Don Mueang Airport and Suvarnabhumi Airport has 23 comfortable seats.

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.

transfer between Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airport
Not a bad way to see the city of angels. Yup that’s what the Thai people call Krungthep. Bangkok to travellers!

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.

getting to and from Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airport Bangkok
Grab cars are South East Asia’s answer to Uber. They are privately owned and you never know what you’ll get!

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 to and from Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airport Bangkok
Buses are a cheap option getting to downtown Bangkok.

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

Getting to and from Suvarnabumhi Airport Bangkok skytrain only1invillage
The skytrain in Bangkok is an air con heaven! From the airport, you need to transfer at Phaya Thai on the BTS train.

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.

getting to and from Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airport Bangkok
Downtown Bangkok is a congested, traffic ridden city. Try to avoid using ground transportation if possible. Stick to the sky train or walk!

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Cradle mountain lake Tasmania

Top 5 things to do do in Tasmania

If you only do 5 things in Tasmania, it has to be on our list. Cradle Mountain, Mona, Salamanca Market, Port Arthur and Freycinet National Park.

Quick Index Tasmania things to do

          

What’s Tasmania famous for?

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.

Tasmanian devil try and spot one only1invillage
You’ll be really lucky if you spot a Tasmanian Devil in the wild.

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.

Tasmania an eating destination only1invillage 5 must do things
Eating fabulous food in Tasmania often goes hand in hand with great scenery.

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.

5 things you must do in Tasmania
Walking through unspoiled forests is one thing Tasmania is famous for.

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.

5 things you must do in Tasmania
Magical carpeted forest floors await discovery in Tasmania.

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 map where is Tasmania
Tasmania is sort of south of Melbourne. You can see by the north coast that it used to be part of Australia. New Zealand is red. Indonesia is blue and Papua New Guinea is orange.

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!

Things to do in Tasmania Cradle Mountain only1invillage
Unmissable thing to do in Tasmania is to walk around Dove Lake, Cradle Mountain. We think we have captured the twin peaks reflection so well!

The walking paths are a mixture of boardwalks and off road trails.

5 things you must do in Tasmania Cradle Mountain walk
Around Dove Lake and the Cradle Mountain area. Elevated and ground board walks allow for a pleasant walk. You don’t need hiking boots.

Along some of the boardwalks you will see the cutest of marsupials, the wombat!

Things to do in Tasmania wildlife native wombat only1invillage
Wombats are surprisingly fast! These cute looking marsupials excrete cubed shape poo. We shit you not! Every single poo a wombat does has six faces. So, if you see cube poo, you know you’re in wombat territory.

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

5 things you must do in Tasmania
White sandy beach at Wineglass Bay in the Freycinet National Park.

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!

5 things you must do in Tasmania
A walking map to Wineglass Bay is essential.

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!

5 things you must do in Tasmania
Learn all about gaol life on this remote island. Sarah Island – there was no escape!

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.

5 things you must do in Tasmania
Get a fascinating insight on life two hundred years ago in a penal colony. Sarah Island was a working island where Huon pine was the main industry. Conditions were cruel and harsh.

Sarah Island is all overgrown now with only ruins remaining.

5 things you must do in Tasmania
There are no intact buildings left at Sarah Island penal colony, Tasmania. The contrast between the surrounding beauty of the wilderness and the harsh life of the convicts is chilling.

We used Gordon River Cruises.

5 things you must do in Tasmania
We arrive on a very different ship to the convict settlement on Sarah Island, Tasmania.

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!

5 things you must do in Tasmania
The view from one of the harshest penal colonies in Tasmania. For prisoners, there was no escape. If you survived this freezing cold swim, there was impenetrable forest to get through next. The view from Sarah Island.

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.

5 things you must do in Tasmania
Port Arthur penal settlement, Tasmania. From a distance it looks like a majestic historic house.

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.

5 things you must do in Tasmania
Port Arthur is now an open air museum. The best preserved convict site in Australia!

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.

5 things you must do in Tasmania
Catch a glimpse of the prisoners’ cells in the Port Arthur museum. Bet it wasn’t that clean in real life!
5 things you must do in Tasmania
The kitchen in the governor’s house, Port Arthur, Tasmania.
5 things you must do in Tasmania
Keep that man chained up! Feel the weight of the leg irons used on the prisoners in the Port Arthur penal settlement.

      

Mona 

Tasmania 5 things you must do 18
The Mona is a privately owned museum. It is only 9 years old. Mona is very unique and ‘out there’.

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.

5 things you must do in Tasmania Mona
The Mona (Museum of New and Old Art) has an enviable water setting. It even has a mini vineyard!
5 things you must do in Tasmania
Some things are just plain weird at the Mona museum! We have no idea what the significance of these ‘hands’ are. If you do, please let us know! Everything at Mona is open to interpretation.

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.

5 things you must do in Tasmania Cradle Mountain walk
The Salamanca markets, Hobart are a Saturday sensation. You can find unique food and handicrafts. The perfect place to find that sought after Huon pine chopping board.

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.

Tasmania 5 things you must do 19
Inside the ‘Spirit of Tasmania’ ferry which leaves from Port Melbourne to Devonport daily. The journey time is about 10 hours. You can bring your car along.

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.

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Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge

Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge

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!

Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge entrance only1invillage
As you enter the Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge, you see this on the right hand side. It gives the lounge a light and spacious feeling.

Quick Index Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge

                                                                                                                                                                      

 the Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge Location

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.

 

                                                                                                                                                                            

Seating

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.

Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge quieter seating area only1invillage
This is the quieter seating area because it’s further away from the food!
Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge seating
Light and well padded armchairs are arranged neatly on the right hand side of the lounge, as you enter.

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.

Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge dining area only1invillage
The shiny and clean dining area has more formal tables and a long dining bench.
Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge dining bench only1invillage
You can sit at the dining bench on the comfortable bar stool chairs with a back. There’s also a view of the gates and sometimes a plane.

If you turn left, when you come in there is another area of various seating available arranged in mini zones.

Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge single seating
If you’re travelling alone, take a seat here!
Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge high back armchairs
There are some high backed armchairs near the ‘library’ area immediately to your right, as you enter the lounge.

There’s a business area with a long communal desk with charging points. It’s at the back of the lounge.

Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge internet zone only1invillage
There’s a dedicated internet zone in the Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge.

                                                                                                                                                                            

Bathrooms and Showers

It’s shower time! There are two showers in the Bangkok Miracle lounge.

Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge toilet signs
Follow the signs!
Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge shower time only1invillage
There is one shower for ladies and one shower for men.

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.

Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge shower room bathroom only1invillage
The shower room also has a toilet and sink, so is more like a mini bathroom. It gets cleaned and towels replaced after each use.
Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge shower and soap
There’s no brand name for the shampoo and body wash, but it does the job!
Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge toiletries only1invillage
A close up shot of the toiletries. The Miracle is a hotel chain in Bangkok. Extra amenities are a toothbrush kit, conditioner, body lotion and a shower cap.

                                                                                                                                                                            

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.

Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge fresh made to order
Looking like a restaurant kitchen, personnel are ready to make you one of four dishes on demand. The kitchen is shared withe the Bangkok Miracle Business Class Lounge, which, is on the other side of the glass. We think this feature makes the lounge look quite glamorous.

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 Food

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!

Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge fresh made to order
Order 2 at a time of these small dishes. There is soup in the prawn won ton bowl when served. The food in the display bowls is real, not plastic like in Japan.

We really want to try everything but feel bloated so we only get the won ton soup to share.

Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge fresh made to order
You get 2 shrimp won tons with soup. It’s not much, but very tasty and you can order 2 meals at a time.

There is a selection of hot food in the silver serving dishes with lids.

Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge only1invillage
The hot meals are displayed alongside the cold salad selection.

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.

Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge stir fried vegetables only1invillage
The stir fried vegetables dish on offer in the Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge is tasty and not too greasy.

Throughout the lounge there are sweet and savoury treats. There are some wrapped foods, presumably so you can take them away.

Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge wrapped sandwiches for take away only1invillage
There are some wrapped sandwiches, presumably for take away. Maybe they’re just wrapped to keep them fresh? Anyway, they are available on both sides of the lounge, not just the dining area side.
Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge pancakes and toast
If you’re on breakfast time you can get some pancakes and toast. Or, if you just fancy pancakes and toast, you can have them anytime of the day.

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.

Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge snacks only1invillage
The snacks on both sides of the lounge are the same. There are some chips/crisps, biscuits, danish pastries and small cakes on offer.

                                                                                                                                                                            

The beverages

The fridges contain the usual soft drinks, like, Coca Cola and Sprite, water and beer.

Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge fridge
The tall fridges contain soft drinks, beer and one red wine and one white wine. Next to the fridge is one area of spirits, where you can mix your own alcoholic drinks.

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!

Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge alcohol bar only1invillage
There are 2 help yourself bars in the Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge. The alcohol selection of spirits is the same in each section.

The hot drinks selection is tea and coffee.

Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge coffee machine only1invillage
There’s no human to make your coffee. Press the buttons to get your caffeine fix from the coffee machine.
Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge tea only1invillage
Make yourself a refreshing cup of tea from the Dilmah or Lipton selection. There is milk in the fridge and in the silver jug.

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!

Bangkok Miracle First Class Lounge sockets in the floor only1invillage
There are sockets in the floor to charge your devices. However, as you can see, you’ll need to bring an adapter, as there are no USB outlets.

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.

                                                                                                                                                                            

Final Thoughts

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!)

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pristine empty beaches

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.

Quick Index Magnetic Island

                                                                                                                                                

Where is Magnetic Island?

Discover Magnetic Island only1invillage
Magnetic Island is in the far NE of Australia. It is in the state of Queensland.

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

Magnetic Island and its many attractions walks by only1invillage
Magnificent vistas of this granite boulder strewn island await! Definitely one of the best things to do on Magnetic Island is the fabulous walking trails.

                                                                                          

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!

Magnetic Island and its many attractions walks by only1invillage
Running shoes are fine to wear on all the walks. You’ll have to take them off though when you go for a cooling dip in one of the bays. It’s sweaty work all that hiking!

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.

Magnetic Island and its many attractions walks by only1invillage
There is only 1 walk where you can refill your drinking bottle. The Forts Walk where you will see the wild koalas. For all the other walks there is no water along the way. We know this because we did every single walk!

Below we give you the official grading and time and the time it takes us to do the walking! You can use this online version to plan your walks. This walking map has less detail than the paper version. See below.

Magnetic Island walking trails
There are so many walks to keep you fit and occupied on Magnetic Island. We did every walk on this map! Pay attention to the grading of the walks, some are harder than you think.

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.

Magnetic Island and its many attractions walks by only1invillage
This paper map shows 9 walks on Magnetic Island. We are proud to say we covered every walk on the island, including the snorkelling!

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.

Attractions of Magnetic Island walks West Point Beach
The walk to West Point is easy but long. 16kms long to be precise. But that’s return!

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!

Magnetic Island West POint walk start bitumen road only1invillage
Told you, it’s just a boring bitumen road. The start of the West Point walk isn’t that interesting.

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.

West Point Beach Magnetic Island
West Point Beach (picture courtesy of Magneticislandproperty.com.au)

                                                                                          

Horseshoe Bay Lagoon- 200ms return (15mins) – official time according to somebody.

Magnetic Island and its many attractions walks by only1invillage
Horseshoe Bay Lagoon Walk is along some boardwalk. We are happy to report it is easy and is 15 minutes long.

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,

Magnetic Island and its many attractions walks by only1invillage
If you’re coming from Horseshoe Bay, the rocks to start the Lagoon Walk are just opposite this sign. Don’t miss it, we did!

Then you need to look out for two large rocks!

Magnetic Island and its many attractions walks by only1invillage
Look out for these stones to get to the Lagoon Walk off Horseshoe Bay Road. They’re well camouflaged!
Magnetic Island and its many attractions walks by only1invillage
You’ll know you’re on the right path to the Lagoon Walk when you see this sign. Finding this sign, though, is the hard part!

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!

Magnetic Island and its many attractions walks by only1invillage
Erm, if you see this while looking for the Lagoon Walk (W8 or W9 on the paper version), you’re going the wrong way! Turn around.

On the boarwalk get your camera out for blue butterflies, blue kookaburras and a crocodile.

Magnetic Island and its many attractions walks by only1invillage
Along the Horseshoe Bay Lagoon Walk classified as easy, we see this beautiful blue butterfly.
Explore the many magnificent attractions of Magnetic Island 28
An iconic Australian bird, the kookaburra. You don’t often see them with a blue belly. Spot him (or her) among the trees at the Horseshoe Bay Lagoon walk.

Depending on the season, the lagoon can look a bit dry. 

Magnetic Island and its many attractions walks by only1invillage
In the dry season, it can be a bit dry! The lagoon is a bit low on water. You can see the exposed roots of the trees along the boardwalk.

                                                                                          

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. 

Discover the many attractions of Magnetic Island things to do
Walk number W2 on the paper map. Hawkings Point Track starts at the end of Picnic Street in Picnic Bay. It’s one of the shorter walks, but, it’s quite steep.

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!

Discover the many attractions of Magnetic Island things to do
You’re almost at the top of Hawkings Point Track, when you see these steps. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place!
Discover the many attractions of Magnetic Island things to do
Victory is ours! It’s really windy at the top. Here you are looking out over Picnic Bay and the pier.
Discover the many attractions of Magnetic Island things to do
At the top of Hawkings Point Track, you can see Townsville from a different view point.

When you get back down, take a walk along the Picnic Bay Jetty you can see from the top of Hawkings Point Track.

Discover the many attractions of Magnetic Island things to do
The jetty at Picnic Bay was used as the drop off point for passengers until 2001. Now all passengers alight at Nelly Bay.

                                                                                          

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.

Moderate Walks

                                                                                          

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!

Walking and hiking trails on Maggie Island
Start the walk to Balding Bay from Horseshoe Bay. After those people in the distance, you need to turn right, into the bushes!
Walking and hiking trails on Maggie Island
The Horseshoe Bay to Balding Bay walk starts on sand and finishes on sand. This is walk W8 on the paper map.
walk to Balding Bay from Horseshoe Bay
Follow the path to Balding Bay. This is just after the previous sign. It’s going to get steeper!
Horseshoe Bay to Balding Bay walk
Continue along the well worn path until you see these signs. Make your choice.
Nude Beach warning to Balding Bay one of the things to do on magnetic island
By the time you see this rock, you will have walked 30 minutes. Prepare to get naked!
Granite rock path to Balding Bay
These are the last granite rocks you need to climb down before you see Balding Bay.
Here comes Balding Bay
Finally after 45 minutes we reach Balding Bay from Horseshoe Bay. You’ll be dying to get naked!
Explore the many magnificent attractions of Magnetic Island 29
We finally get to Balding Bay, the nude beach. Why does J have his clothes on? It’s not a 1.5 hour return to Horseshoe Bay, if you’re going to Radical Bay, the next one along.

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. 

Signs to Balding Bay
You’ll be hot and sweating again when you see these signs from Balding Bay.
Radical Bay is the next bay along from Balding Bay
From Balding Bay, Radical Bay is another 30 minutes walk. It’s the next bay along. You can reach Radical Bay by boat or from the Forts car park. If you come from the Forts car park, it’s a very steep downwards road full of gigantic pot holes. Best to walk on foot.

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.

unnamed walk Magnetic island view of magnetic island beaches
This walk doesn’t have a name. It is above W2 on the paper map. It’s a quickie and a goodie! On the left is Rocky Bay and Nelly Bay Harbour. It’s very windy too, so secure your hat! It’s hard to get a good posing shot, hence, we’re not in it!

                                                                                          

Forts Walk- 4kms return (1.5hrs)

The Fort is in the distance
Yep, you’re going to get to the top of that fort to see some amazing views.

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.

There are many interesting placards describing daily life in this WWII outpost
There are many interesting placards describing daily life in this WWII outpost.

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.

Forts walk info board
Orientate yourself at the Forts Walk car park. Read the interesting information board covered in giant ants!

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.

Forts walk flat path start
The start of the Forts Walk from the car park is along a flat path. Go off to the sides and this is where you will see the many cute koalas.
View over Arthur and Florence Bay Forts Walk
Just 10 minutes walk from the Forts car park, you will see this amazing view over Arthur and Florence Bays.

Keep going and keep your eyes peeled for the koalas. 

2 koalas Forts Walk
What’s better than seeing one koala on Magnetic Island? Seeing two koalas on the same tree! The Forts Walk, is the best place to spot these iconic Australian fur balls in the wild. It’s so crowded with koalas, koalas have to share real estate!

When you can tear yourself away from the koala spotting, continue on your history lesson about Magnetic Island’s involvement in WWII.

Discover amazing facts on Magnetic Island Forts Walk info
Learn all about how soldiers went about their daily lives on this remote part of Australia during WWII. If you don’t stop to read these information placards, you can do the Forts Walk in 1.5 hours return.

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.

Discover the many attractions of Magnetic Island things to do
The trek to the top of the Forts ruins is totally worth it! Breathtaking views from all angles!

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.

Attractions of Magnetic Island walks West Point Beach
The gun here could rotate on a 360 degree angle. It had a range of 18.3 kms. What happened to the guns remains a mystery. A soldier wrote an entry a week after Armistice Day in August 1945. He says that he and some friends went on a walk from Horsehoe Bay to the Forts and all the guns were gone!
Attractions of Magnetic Island walks Forts Walk
From inside one of the forts you can see the top of another fort in the distance. At 233 metres above sea level, the soldiers could see enemy ships coming! Yes of course we walked to the other fort.
Attractions of Magnetic Island walks Forts walk nerve centre
At the highest point of Magnetic Island. The nerve centre of the Forts complex offers outstanding views. Take time to take it all in.

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.

Discover the many attractions of Magnetic Island things to do walking trails
To start the Nelly Bay to Arcadia walk, walk down Mandalay Avenue in Nelly Bay. This is walk number W4 on the paper map.

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.

Discover the many attractions of Magnetic Island things to do walking trails
There are some cool patches of ancient rain forest on the walk to Arcadia from Nelly Bay. It doesn’t get easier though. We don’t agree it’s a moderate walk for most people.
Discover the many attractions of Magnetic Island things to do walking trails
It’s steep and tough going on the Nelly Bay to Arcadia walk. We’re about an hour in at this point and we’re nowhere near completing the walk in another half hour!

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.

Discover the many attractions of Magnetic Island things to do walking trails
Looking over Horseshoe Bay at a very high point on the Nelly Bay to Arcadia walk. At this point we are 1.5 hours into the walk. The official time to complete this walk is 1.5 hours.
Discover the many attractions of Magnetic Island things to do walking trails
Time to take a well deserved break! Looking over Horseshoe Bay thinking about….. dinner! There’s another 1.5 hours of walking to get to Arcadia.

There’s a few hopeful signs along the way as you sweat through. Thankfully now the path to Arcadia is down hill!

Discover the many attractions of Magnetic Island things to do walking trails
Helpful signs to orientate you on the Nelly Bay to Arcadia walk. If you’re coming from Arcadia, it’s up hill. If you are coming from Nelly Bay, the descent down begins from here!

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!

Native Australian Wildlife
Hands up if you want to come back as a koala in another life? Sleeping over 20 hours a day sound good? Maggie Island, boasts the largest wild koala population in the world!

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. 

Rock wallabies at Geoffrey Bay
These wallabies rock! Rock wallabies are common in Geoffrey Bay. Look at the cute little joey! Best time to see them is around 5pm. They’re very tame. Try to resist feeding them if you can.

If you must feed them, please consult this list.

Rock wallabies at Geoffrey Bay
If you must feed the rock wallabies at Geoffrey Bay, look at this list of food they can eat.
Attractions of Magnetic Island walks
The multi-coloured rainbow lorikeet perches on native kapok branches. The bright green, blue, yellow, red and orange bird is common across Australia, including Magnetic Island.

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!

Attractions of Magnetic Island walks
The unremarkable looking curlew bird of Magnetic Island. Thanks to Katankart from Pixabay for this image. We only heard their eerie call. They are difficult to see and are endangered.
kapok tree has beautiful yellow flowers discover attractions of Magnetic Island
Magnetic Island is dotted with these magnificent yellow flowers. They come from a kapok tree. Kapok are native to Australia and are found mostly in Townsville and Magnetic Island. You can even eat the bright flowers. Apparently they taste like marshmallows!

                                                                                          

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. 

Snorkelling around Magnetic Island marine life
We spot lots of lettuce coral at Florence Bay and Arthur Bay. The water can be a bit murky.

Some parts of Arthur Bay have some coloured staghorn coral. On the day we visit, there are a few bright fish around.

Different coral at Arthur Bay
Staghorn, brain and lettuce coral at Arthur Bay. A few bright blue fish make an appearance.

                                      

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.

                                                                                          

Horseshoe Bay

Sand quality – rough yellow brown coarse sand. Water – not clear, but warm enough.

Attractions of Magnetic Island beaches of Magnetic Island Horseshoe Bay
Horseshoe Bay has some natural shade and lifeguards on duty. There are stinger nets to keep out the jellyfish.

                                                                                          

Balding Bay

Discover attractions of Magnetic Island. Balding Bay is definitely worth the walk. A wide sandy bay with aqua water. Water is cold.
Balding Bay is definitely worth the walk. A wide sandy bay with aqua water. Water temperature – cold.
Balding Bay
Huge granite boulders on a pristine beach at Balding Bay. Balding Bay is isolated. It is a nude beach. The sand is fine and yellow to white, depending on the angle of the sun.

                                                                                          

Radical Bay

Radical Bay beach things to do Magnetic Island
Radical Bay Beach is a lovely curved bay shouldered with giant granite boulders.

                                                                                         

Alma Bay Beach in Arcadia

Attractions of Magnetic Island beaches of Magnetic Island
Arcadia Beach is popular with families. It has a grassed area before the beach with toilets and a playground. Beautiful bay with large granite boulders on either side. Don’t forget to swim between the flags.
Attractions of Magnetic Island beaches of Magnetic Island
Before you get to Arcadia Beach there is a good picnic area. Also there’s a children’s playground and some toilet and change facilities. The beach is known as Alma Bay Beach or Arcadia Beach which can be confusing. The town is 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.

Attractions of Magnetic Island beaches of Magnetic Island
Picnic Bay Beach has fine golden sand. It has a long line of trees you can take shade under. Apparently there’s some good snorkelling off to the right of this picture.

                                                                                          

Arthur Bay Beach

Explore the many magnificent attractions of Magnetic Island 30
Arthur Bay beach has some decent snorkelling opportunities. Known as fringe reef, it’s like mini reef before the Great Barrier Reef. The water is cold so a rash vest is advisable.

                                                                                          

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.

Florence Bay Beach Magnetic Island pristine beaches to explore only1invillage
Florence Bay is another empty beach for you to explore. Easier to reach than Radical or Balding Bay. From the Forts car park, you can walk down hill in half an hour. Don’t attempt to go by car unless you have a ‘real’ 4×4′.

                                                                                          

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. 

Attractions of Magnetic Island beaches of Magnetic Island
Cockle Bay Beach is small. Thousands of years ago, you could walk across the water to Townsville. At low tide you have to wade quite far out before you can swim. There is coral reef here.

                                                                                          

Nelly Bay

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.

snorkelling to the right of Nelly Bay
Nelly Bay doesn’t have a beach since it’s the harbour and ferry terminal. But, to the right, there’s this huge strip of sand where there is well marked snorkelling. It’s where the backpackers called Base backpackers is located.
Nelly Bay Harbour doesn't have a beach
The harbour at Nelly Bay is picturesque for boat spotting. There’s no beach as such, since the ferry terminal is here.

                                                                                          

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!

Getting to Magnetic Island
Foot passengers get on the ferry at the Sealink Townsville Terminal. The terminal is well connected to the airport by bus or taxi. The terminal offers free wi-fi and drinking water.

Click here for the Magnetic Island ferry timetable. The prices are $34 AUD return per adult, if not booked online. If you book online, it’s only $30AUD for a return ticket. Children under 14 years old, only cost $17AUD. The same goes for concession card holders. Book your Magnetic Island ferry online here.

Magnetic Island and its many attractions walks by only1invillage
The Sealink Ferry whisks you to Magnetic Island in 20 minutes from the ferry terminal in Townsville.

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.

Magnetic Island getting there on the Sealink ferry
Inside the Sealink ferry there are comfortable seats. The interior is fully air conditioned.
comfortable-inside-seating-sealink-ferry-townsville-to-magnetic-island
The downstairs area of the ferry is air conditioned. There’s even a bar on board for the short crossing!

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.

Magnetic Island getting there on the Sealink ferry
If you really can’t wait for a drink, there’s a bar on board the Magnetic Island ferry!
Groups can sit together and socialise in air conditioned comfort on the Magnetic Island ferry
Groups and families can sit and socialise together at the tables. You won’t miss out on the view if you get a window seat.
Magnetic Island getting there on the Sealink ferry
If you like to feel the wind in your hair, choose an outside bench seat on the ferry to Magnetic Island.

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!

getting around Maggie
Getting around Maggie (Magnetic) Island like the locals do! Going topless is an option for males only!
cute pink hire cars are called mokes on the island
Ladies, just because the car says topless, keep your clothes on! You’ll get a ticket for public indecency otherwise!

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!

Getting around the island
The unsealed roads have SERIOUS pot holes. The roads to the bays are also very narrow. Pray another vehicle isn’t coming towards you!
Getting around the island
You need a ‘real’ 4 x 4 vehicle, with high clearance, to handle the deep pot holes of the unsealed roads on Maggie Island. Don’t think your Range Rover can handle the terrain. You have been warned!

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.

 

Getting around the island
Sunbus Route 250. There’s only one number and one route for ‘the bus’ so you can always get on it!
Getting around the island
Sometimes the hourly bus gets so crowded! We couldn’t resist this shot. The driver told us to sit on the floor, or he would lose his job! We were not going to wait another hour for the next bus! Bringing back memories of our travels in some Asian countries.

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! 

there's only bus route on Magnetic Island the 250
There’s only one bus route number on Magnetic Island. It’s the 250 and it only goes 2 ways. The only confusing bus stop is pictured here at Arcadia. Usually bus stops are on opposite sides of the road. At Arcadia, there’s only one bus stop. Read the timetable carefully and always check the destination on the front of the bus when you get on.

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 Grand Mercure 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

Noodies on the Beach Mexican Horseshoe Bay
Give the paella a miss at Noodies Mexican restaurant. The taste was bland and they haven’t used the correct rice!
huge tortillas at Noodies Horsehoe Bay
The huge tortillas are nothing special. The food is bland and overpriced. Sorry Noodies we are not impressed.

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.

seafood platter at Sandis Horseshoe Bay
The seafood platter at Sandis includes half a dozen oysters.

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.

Explore the many magnificent attractions of Magnetic Island 31
The scallops at Barefoot Art Food Wine are delicious. This place is attached to an art gallery in Horseshoe Bay.

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.

where to eat Picnic Bay hotel pub restaurant
Get an Aussie classic, chicken parmigiana with chips or garden salad AND a glass of white wine just $16 !

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Explore the many magnificent attractions of Magnetic Island 32

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Diving in Malaysia’s breathtaking coral reefs

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.

Quick Index

breathtaking corals diving in Malaysia
Breathtaking hard and soft corals await in Malaysia. The wavy coral is part of a species called octocoral.
You can compare the Malaysian coral reefs to the Great Barrier Reef. Trust us, we go to both to dive and snorkel.
You can compare the Malaysian coral reefs to the Great Barrier Reef. Trust us, we go to both to dive and snorkel.
brightly coloured Malaysian coral reef diving in Malaysia
Malaysian coral reef is bright and colourful. Not known as a diving destination….until now!

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.

clown fish everywhere Malaysia
If you love Finding Nemo, you’ll love Malaysia. These orange and white cuties, are everywhere! How many can you count here?
orange fin clown fish diving in Malaysia
The orange fin clown fish is not the famous fish in Finding Nemo. Clown fish are everywhere in Malaysian waters.
Diving in Malaysia amazing coral reef and spectacular marine life
Not all clown fish are like in the movie Finding Nemo. This is a stripey clown fish.

                                              

Diving in Malaysia

Parts of Malaysia that Only1invillage visits, rivals the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.

Giant clams are squashed in against giant brain corals. A common sight when diving in Malaysia.
Giant clams are squashed in against giant brain corals. A common sight when diving in Malaysia.

Giant clams, clown fish, turtles, black tip reef sharks, giant wrasse and angel fish are common sightings in Malaysian waters.

Diving in Malaysia amazing coral reef and spectacular marine life
Titan trigger fish often swim on their side. They grow up to 75 cms. You’ll always see two or three when you snorkel or dive.

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.

Diving in Malaysia amazing coral reef and spectacular marine life
The marine life is just off amazing beaches like this in Malaysia.

We are not kidding. The following pictures of the marine life have all been taken within a 100 metres from the shore.

titan triggerfish
This titan triggerfish is in knee deep water off the island of Redang, Malaysia. Look at the clarity of that water. It’s warm too!
Diving in Malaysia amazing coral reef and spectacular marine life
This Malaysian bad boy puffer fish (it’s probably female!) is swimming just 100 metres from white sand in the Perhentian Islands.
Diving in Malaysia amazing coral reef and spectacular marine life
5 feet (1.5 metres) black tip reef sharks can be spotted under 100 metres from the shore on Redang Island, one of our favourite diving and snorkelling destinations in Malaysia.

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.

diving gear in Malaysia
Going diving in Malaysia is very safe. Equipment is well maintained. Qualified divers are on hand for all diving levels.
diving costs in Malaysia
Diving is fun! Your oxygen tank is filled with beer! Just joking!

The boats you travel on vary from 8 people boats to dozens (for snorkelling).

diving boats
Boats that take you diving and snorkelling in Malaysia. Some boats are quite small, carrying up to 8 people. Most resorts have their own boats or hire local boats in the busy, dry season.
jellyfish
Jelly fish are not common in Malaysian waters. This jelly fish is just too pretty not to include!

                                              

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!

turtles are common in Malaysian waters
The green sea turtle is not really green! More brown than green, don’t you think? There are plenty of turtles to see when you go snorkelling or diving in Malaysia.
Diving in Malaysia amazing coral reef and spectacular marine life
The giant clams and sea urchins are just spectacular. This photo is a snorkelling picture, taken in shallow waters. You don’t have to be able to dive to see amazing marine life and corals in Malaysia.
black and blue clown fish
We’re clown fish too! Black and blue clown fish swim out to defend their anemone off Rawa Island, Malaysia.
lizardfish
Look at me, look at me, I’m a lizard fish. I will wait on rocks to catch my prey. See you in Malaysia!
bumphead parr
You will have to be lucky to spot these giant fish in such a big group. Bumphead parrot fish are shy. They are responsible for making the powder soft white sand. They do this by bumping against coral, eating and then spitting it out!
stingray fish
The blue and yellow stingray resembles a metal detector. It likes both shallow and deep water. It camouflages well and can be difficult to see.
two barred rabbit fish and damsel fish
The stripey fish are damsel fish. The yellow fish on the right are two barred rabbit fish. The damsel fish is one of the most common ‘plain’ fish you will see in Malaysia. This also shows how clear the waters of the NW coast of Malaysia are.
pennant bannerfish
Pennant bannerfish are notoriously difficult to get a good side shot.
squirrelfish large eyes
We love ticking off fish when we go diving. These large eyed squirrel fish love to hang out in big schools. They are usually nocturnal, so we are lucky to spot them during the day.
The colourful blue barred parrot fish
The colourful blue barred parrot fish must be the inspiration for the famous children’s book The Rainbow Fish, by Marcus Pfister.
honeycomb grouper
The honeycomb grouper likes to roam on the sea bed. This shot is from the Perhentian Islands.
Mars Fusiliers
Check off another fish when snorkelling or diving in Malaysia. Mars Fusiliers have a distinctive yellow stripe. They are swimming happily with a rabbitfish and a blue parrotfish.
golden rabbit fish
Get up close and personal to golden rabbit fish when diving or snorkelling in Malaysia. They’re not shy! They swim right up to your face.
diving in malaysia
There are lots of needle fish that swim just below the surface of the water.
red banded wrasse diving in malaysia
Look to the bottom left for the red banded wrasse. The titan triggerfish wants to take centre stage!
unknown fish diving in malaysia
We don’t know what this fish is called. Any ideas? Get in touch, we would love to know! (Perhentian Islands)

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.

jackfish
Another fish we’re not sure of. Maybe jackfish? We can’t decide using our two guides above.