Phillip Island, Victoria Australia

Within an easy couple of hours drive from Melbourne, Phillip island is about 26 km long and about 9km wide, totalling around 100 square kilometres. Arriving at Phillip Island in an open whale boat on 5 January 1798, George Bass named Phillip Island after the first Governor of New South Wales, Arthur Phillip.

The roughly 97km of coastline is rugged in places, with pounding waves hitting sandy or rocky beach areas. This island not only forms a natural breakwater for the Western Port, it is also home to around 9500 permanent residents, with upwards of 40 000 inhabitants during the summer.

Connected to the mainland by a 640 metre concrete bridge, Phillip Island has a multitude of activities to amuse visitors.

Not long after arriving on the Island, the iconic Phillip Island race Circuit comes into view on our left hand side. Don’t be shy, follow the signs down to the cafe and information centre. The idea for this racing focused venue, and constructions of same, emerged in the early to mid 1950’s.Memorabilia encased in the walls, to honour those racing legends who have passed on, lines the curved entrance hallway to the main information centre. A huge mural inside gives you a full birds eye view of the track. Here we found friendly helpful staff, with plenty of ideas on offer should you wish to partake in activities. Opposite the main desk, a wall of options and costings is in clear view for all. Or, take a selfie on the podium, with helmet underarm and trophy held high.Choose your activity, perhaps stop by the cafe or souvenir shop, wander out onto the cafe balcony area to greet the local wildlife, there really is something here for everyone.There’s a few peacocks about, and they are not afraid to wander up for a chat or show off their colours. They’re not fenced in here, free to come and go as they please, but, the general choice seems to be to stay.

Once you have satisfied your curiosity at this stop, head back out to the road and continue exploring the island.

Our next stop was at the new Penguin Parade Visitor Centre. The massive $58 million structure, still being finished, provides an entrance to the penguin population residing here.This expansive building has been designed to handle the influx of visitors during the busy season. Still smelling completely new, you can stop for a bite to eat, organise a tour, learn about the local wildlife from the interactive displays or browse the gift shop.The reasons for the sweaters? Back in the late nineties the ‘Knits for Nature’ began to help save penguins from soaking in oil after spills, until staff could clean the oil off them. These little jumpers have to be knitted just right to fit their intended subjects.

Spend some time in this beautiful National Park, theres a lot of different wildlife including birds, and seals to see as well as beautiful landscapes.

Our final stop was to be The Cape Kitchen for lunch, which we had passed as we first came onto the island. With a table up the very front, overlooking the open waters of the Bass Strait, what better place to stop and relax.Delightful staff, a beautiful expansive restaurant, amazing views, finished off with local fresh produce off the well thought out menu. Again, this building is massive, designed with the tourist and local market in mind. If you haven’t stopped in here, even just for a coffee and cake, then you really are missing out on a fantastic experience. Our day visit wasn’t a long one, but given its an easy hour and a half or so drive from Melbourne, it’s incredible what a total contrast to the city this area is.

Enjoy Phillip Island, there is a lot here. Plenty of spots to stop and much to see. We missed quite a bit on this trip, but you cant do everything. There’s always next time!

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A short break in Melbourne made for time to explore this history seeped area of Victoria. So much to see, never enough time, however we started with an area near the city, encompassing Williamstown & Newport.

The waterfront at Williamstown has wonderfully restored historic buildings overlooking the marina. Melbourne City and the Port of Melbourne provide a hazy backdrop of cranes and highrises, behind the berths of marine vessels, located near the mouth of the Yarra River. HMAS Castlemaine, the last of the Bathurst Class corvette still afloat, has been restored to a wartime museum, occupying a permanent marina berth. HMAS Castlemaine served in World War II, and is now open to the public on weekends to give you an insight into life on board as experienced by wartime crews.

Families enjoyed the beauty of this particular sunny winter day, strolling around the park area, wharf, some feeding ravenous seagulls.

We drove a little further down the road and stumbled across a themed Titanic restaurant. Looks intriguing so we will keep that one in mind for our next visit!

Lunch stop was at the Newport bowls Club with an onsite bistro, bar and an entertainment calendar. Drinks and menu are all affordable, as was the music on this particular day.

Drinks and menu are all affordable, as was the music on this day, $15 per non-member or $10 for members.Order and pay for your meals at the kitchen, which will then be delivered to your table when ready.

All the food was real food, delicious, filling, as well as warming on chilly winters day. Highly recommend stopping by for chilled beer or tasty meal. This is a place where you will feel at home, receive friendly service, and not break the bank.

If you’re in the area on a Sunday, enjoy your music, why not extend your stay with a visit to the Newport RSL sub-branch. This small RSL hosts an open mic evening on Sundays, starting at 3pm and including the option of an affordable $5 meal, where you fill your plate with delicious home cooked meat and salad. Enjoy a meal and drink whilst you listen to the talent on hand. Patrons pick up guitars, play drums or sing, with some being regulars, others just visiting. Join in or simply sit back and relax in the chilled out atmosphere. Drop by if you’re in the area, Newport &Williamstown area has a lot to offer, with plenty to see.

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An Evening in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane

Fortitude Valley is full of activities at any time of the day or night. There is always something happening as well as much to see here. It’s a place where culture oozes from the area as East meets West. From historic buildings through to modern, grunge to clean lines. Brisbane’s iconic Valley will always be known as Australia’s first dedicated entertainment district.

Affectionately known as The Valley to local Brisbanites, the area sits on the Eastern edge of the main city. Easily accessible by train, which we chose to use on this weekend afternoon, its simply a matter of choosing where you would like to go.

Our choice today was the intriguing Alfred and Constance, consisting of two Queenslander style homes, the bones of which were used to create bars and differing areas within.

Starting with a cocktail on a quiet part of the verandah, we enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and attentive, friendly staff. Patrons drifted in for a chat over a drink with mates, or for group celebrations. With the different bars as well as this really cool verandah area, where you can watch the world pass by, theres bound to be an area to suit you.The menu is pub style food, at reasonable prices. Arancini, pictured above was quite delicious. Not only was the food nicely presented and tasty, it arrived quite quickly after ordering.Salt & Pepper calamari, plus cheesy bacon fries completed the shared choices for this evening. After taking some time to meander through the food and drinks, it was time to leave this relaxing spot and head off to find our main objective for the evening, Brush N Barrel.

Brush & Barrel is an interesting concept, bringing together a love of wine and painting. Tonight was a pet portrait evening which was a birthday treat for myself. Photos of our pets had been sent in, with staff sketching these onto a canvas for us to paint, whilst indulging in a wine or two. Yes! Bring your own wine and learn a few brush strokes, before you proudly leave with a painting of your own pet, completed by yourself.A couple of staff are hand to assist, one then using a canvas to show you some brush strokes. You dont have to follow the instructions, go off on a tangent and do your own thing. At the start you carefully try to imitate the instructor.But, at some point the wine loosens your senses and try as I may to follow the instructions, it was time to turn rogue. I couldnt see me producing one of those splendid looking works of art on the wall, but it doesn’t matter. Flow with your brush and experiment with the colours. Our dog is black, with a white chest and prior to this session, I simply could not visualise painting in different colours. But, it doesn’t take long before you realise this is a lot of fun! A myriad of colours are on hand to encourage you to expand your horizons, leave the railway track and experiment.Happy with the end result, the evening eventually came to an end. Our instructor started at the back of the room and went from portrait to portrait assisting budding painters. Unfortunately, some of those who were first on the list, called the instructor back after their initial assistance, leaving those further down the room with a long wait for some advice.

But, it was all good for me, happy in the fact that I was the only one to do this painting, that was enough for me.

Take some time to visit The Valley. You’re bound to find something that suits your taste! Highly recommend both of the venues in this article, especially the wine & paint at Brush & Barrel, a great destress session!

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Our latest service is event planning which can be anything from an evening out to a surprise proposal or birthday, right through to corporate events. Look forward to assisting you!

French & Mor, Albany Creek

Tucked at the end of a group of shops, in a quiet area of surburbia, is a surprisingly cool French inspired cafe.Book high tea in advance, take your own bubbles, for a mere $2 cover charge, then relax whilst the wonderful friendly staff cater to your every need.Crockery was embossed with an interesting design, complementing the chunky wooden table. Even sugar had transformed as cute cubes with silver tongs. The little details do make a difference, with effort made here to include attention to detail.At $41 per head, this high tea was definitely very good value. Great idea for a birthday gift too!

Once seated, peruse the drinks menu to decide on your beverage choice. The coffee drinker can choose two coffees, not delivered at the same time, whilst tea lovers have an interesting selection of teas to choose from.Should you require an additional coffee or tea, this is only an extra $2. Very reasonable.

French flavour oozes from the menu, from baguette to delightfully intricate petite fours and sweets.For those who have allergies, which may be affected by the ingredients, French & Mor makes sure you do not feel left out. Indulge in your very own two tiered high tea, designed to ensure you are served only what is safe for you to eat.

The selection is quite impressive, and this is the two tier designed just for one person!

First up, some beautifully fresh bread chicken, tomato and cucumber sandwiches, which literally melted in the mouth. Pausing to savour the mini sandwiches, it was then time to indulge in the beef baguette, again wonderfully fresh, pairing well with the horseradish creme, which had a hint of mustard seeping through. Nothing overpowering, but some fantastic separate flavours there to enjoy.

Grissini and charcoal wafer thin crackers followed, dipped in tasty beetroot hummus.

Already you discover you’ve beaten the hunger pains. These tasty morsels are actually a lot more filling than they appear!

Those petit fours were to follow, with the selection of desserts the last remaining items to be consumed.Dainty French macaron which literally dissolved perfectly in your mouth was the first dessert on the plate. A myriad of flavours followed with raspberry purée and peppermint pana cotta. Both strong dominating flavours, bringing an end to this most enjoyable high tea.

Keep this one up your sleeve for somewhere as a surprise gift or just to be that little bit special. There is a normal cafe menu to if you would like to check it out first. Just remember to contact the friendly, helpful staff and organise your high tea in advance.

Dine Live Travel now provides a service to organise many types of functions, surprises or anything you require assistance to plan. Our network is vast and we are not affiliated to any other business. All your quotes will be fair and equitable. Contact via email dinelivetravel@yahoo.com.au or message our our many platforms including Instagram, Pinterest and facebook. Looking forward to assisting you!

Ladies Day Out – Brisbane Australia

Dine Live Travel is launching an new exciting service! Surprise!!! We will research, co-ordinate and book anything you require. This might be a for a marriage proposal, Ladies day out, Big Boys Play date, a birthday surprise, work function, weekend away, Baby Moon, anything. We are not affiliated to any one company and will provide you with the option range from which you choose, all within your allocated budget.

Just think how difficult it can be to organise a surprise for your partner and keep it a surprise. We will do all the hard work for you, negotiate pricing, present the quoted options. You make your final choices, so we can then book everything for you, including those small details which will make all the difference!

We recently organised a Ladies Day Out as a birthday present for a couple of young ladies, in this case family. This was all organised through some companies we have utilised in the past, to incorporate a private driver, photography, food, and of course wine!!.Richard from Strong Limousines was booked to be our driver for the day. We have used this company in the past for airport transfers and have always found both Richard & Jessica to be highly professional, very easy to deal with, using only very tidy, clean vehicles. As usual Richard arrived on time and greeted our party of four, opening doors for all in the comfortable Chrysler Sedan.

The first stop organised was at Mercure Clear Mountain Lodge. Here we sat out on the expansive balcony, admiring the view of Brisbane, over a bottle of bubbles. We had considered the high tea here but it didn’t quite fit into our schedule for that day, especially with lunch planned at the next stop. Next time we will stop by for high tea.

How incredible is the view out to the horizon! We stay here at least once a year, as being so close to Brisbane, yet feeling like a whole world away, this venue is our go to for unwinding and relaxing, with some wonderful staff another bonus.

After some catch up chit chat, obligatory photos, all of which were matched with some soothing bubbles, we met Richard out the front at the agreed time. From here, Richard drove us seamlessly through some stunning bush areas, stopping on the side of the road partway up the hill on the Mt Mee drive, so we could admire the incredible view laid out before us.

We had intended to stop at some of the markets on the way, but decided to miss this today as we headed to our wine tasting and lunch at Ocean View Estate Winery. Richard dropped us off, agreed the time we would be back in the carpark for pickup and left us to indulge.There is plenty to choose from as you can see above! A family run business established by Kate & Thomas, who have worked hard to bring the winery and restaurant up to an extremely high standard. Within around 45 minutes from Brisbane city too, so quite close. (Photo credit @amberadventuring)

Their daughter Hannah, came on board as the brewer and creates some interesting beers.First stop, the winery shop for wine and beer tasting. Friendly staff ran us through a wine tasting with all of us choosing wines of our preference to trial, prior to tasting some beers. There really are some interesting combinations which are well worth trying.

Even though the skies were clear, it was little cooler up here on this gorgeous Queensland Winter day. Lovely to see the fire stoked, with flames softly dancing. There is something about flames which creates a relaxed atmosphere.Seated out on the covered verandah, we watched a helicopter deliver some patrons, as part of a package offered by Ocean View Estate Winery & Restaurant. Landing on the neatly mown lawn with tidy roses and hedges in the foreground, the passengers disembarked for their special experience. Bubbles arrived, meals were ordered and our lovely double birthday luncheon began.(Photo credit @amberadventuring)

Our selection of entrees arrived which we were all sharing from the interesting A La carte menu. There are also options for degustation menus, including matching wines. All menus are created by the talented Head Chef, Tony Tierney.

We shared some delious pork belly with a side of crispy greens. Perfect amount for 4 ladies after those delicious entrees!

As the lunch came to an end, it was time to order some tantalising dessertsOh yes, dessert and dessert cocktails, simply stunning.Staff in the restaurant were also friendly, helpful and professional. Always nice to go somewhere and be treated so well.

Should you be interested in attending any of these venues or require the use of our new booking service, please feel free to message or contact via email dinelivetravel@yahoo.com.au. Further photos are posted on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

Thank you to all the following companies we utilised for this day out. None were aware at the time of booking or payment, of our intentions.

– Strong Limousines

– Mercure Clear Mountain Resort

-Lakeview Restaurant

-Ocean View Estate Winery & Restaurant

-Amber Adventuring (Photography)

-Dine Live Travel (Co-ordination, photography, promotion)

Kata TjutaWalpa Pit Stop Tour

The very last tour for the Uluru trip, was a fairly easy afternoon walk at Kata Tjuta. Our friendly driver Adam collected us from the hotel and provided us with an informative commentary during our 45 min drive each way. Adam had worked out here for ten years so he was a fountain of knowledge.

The tour was small, not on a huge coach, so quite personalised. Adam stopped along the way at a lookout which was a short walk up, to have a fabulous view of Kata Tjuta. We were warned of the flies, and he wasn’t wrong! We had fought flies all week and become somewhat used to them, but, this was literally like the breeding ground for all flies, well it seemed that way anyway. But the view sure made up for it. Adam was right, this was worth perfecting the Australian ‘wave’ for.

Back on the bus, it was short drive out to the Olga’s themselves. Along the way we passed the longest shortcut in Australia. This road is 2800 kilometres if you traverse the entire Outback Way, which takes you from Winton Queensland to Laverton Western Australia. 1600 kilometres is dirt road and there is up to 300 kilometres between food, fuel and sleep stops. quite mind blowing facts and a trip you would need to be very well prepared for. Don’t turn down there by accident, you might be there a while!Kata Tjuta means many heads. There are 36 domes which make up this intriguing area, cover around 21 kms squared. The highest of the domes is Mt Olga, 1066 metres above sea level or towering around 546 metres above the desert plains, was so named by Ernest Giles in 1872, to honour Queen Olga of Württemberg.

The Armadus Basin Kata Tjuta lies in, was formed around 850 million years ago. Both Uluru and Kata Tjuta are formed with sediment originating from what is know as the Mount Currie Conglomerate, which consists of granite, amongst other sediments, with patina being the compound giving the orange-red hue Uluru and Kata Tjuta are known for.Many Pitjantjatjara ‘Dreamtime’ legends are associated with Kata Tjuta. The stories are fascinating, with a sacred area set aside over generations for ‘men’s business’. Legend foretells, women who become privy to the ‘men’s business area’ are open to violent attacks or even death. The Anangu people believe those dome formations are home to the “dreaming”s spirit energy. In 1995 they again began using the sacred site for cultural ceremonies.After completing Kings Canyon, this walk was really quite easy to traverse with marked tracks and easily walked bridges. Highly recommend you wear good solid footwear though, there are loose rocks and rocky steps to negotiate in places.You cannot help but be completely mesmerised by the sheer size of these domes, as you negotiate your way through the Walpa Gorge. Listen for the wind though, it whistles as you make you way through the canyon. Take some time to breathe in how incredible nature is, if you dont stop and enjoy along the way, you will miss the moments.

The entire Tour from pick up to drop off, isn’t more than about 2.5-3 hours, including around 1.5 hours drive time. For an autumn/winter afternoon walk, I’d recommend walking out here, its easy enough to be pleasant, yet with a little challenge and the added bonus of a great little spot at the top of the gorge, harbouring native plants and a grove of Spearwood trees.Spearwood trees are an evergreen shrub, growing to around 2-6 metres, with some yellow globular blossom forming in spring. They were not blooming today, but still, it is worth the walk. Remember to respect the Anangu people and do not cross into areas you are specifically requested not too.The trip back down is fairly easy, a few steps but just follow that marked path down the gorge, stopping along the way to take some photos and listen for the whistling wind. It is quite interesting. Especially when there was no wind at the bottom, yet throughout the walk, you really become attuned to nature, with the addition of that whistling wind.

After a short stop at Australia’s, most expensive long drop toilet, (oh yes you need to see this and hear the story, it is quite entertaining), it didn’t take long to be dropped back at the hotel. I’m not giving away all the secrets, head out to Kata Tjuta and find out for yourself, probably not one for the heat, but we had a pretty good time of year and wasn’t too hot.Check Dine Live Travel on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram as well as our other platforms for more information and photos. Thank you for following this blog and really do hope you have enjoyed this Uluru series. Some exciting things coming in the next week or so, keep an eye out!

Uluru – Day Four, Desert Awakenings Tour

Lets hope you’re not feeling a little dusty after indulging in that spectacular dinner last night! Our last full day began early, pre sunrise, as we were collected from our hotel by the engaging Jo, and transported to a sand dune out past the airport. Here, hot drinks and warm damper awaited us as we were about to witness the magic of an outback sunrise. Next, we would be heading into the National Park to the base of Uluru itself. Later today would see us venturing out to Kata Tjuta on an afternoon tour.

The biting desert cold night air which we had briefly tasted ducking from the warmth of our hotel into Jo’s All Terrain vehicle, now enveloped us as we reluctantly left the bus and trudged up the sand dune. The only noise in this expanse was the low murmmuring of voices which were occasionally raised to emphaise how cold each person felt.

We were only a small group, and the walk up the dune was not far. But, that little bit of elevation was going to give us a stunning, uninterrupted view of the sunrise, Uluru and Kata Tjuta.At the top of the dune, Jo gleefully greeted our breakfast cook who had an array of food including warm damper, pastries, fruit and hot water urns, filled with boiling water, ready to warm our chilled innards with a choice of hot beverages.

After loading up with warming drinks, everyone surrounded the gas heaters, trying desperately to breathe heat into numbingly cold bodies.

Its about now you regret being a photographer. Wistfully watching everyone else with one hand hugging a warm cup, the other either tucked deeply into a pocket or held out like a peace offering in front of a gas heater, I tried to encourage my unwilling fingers to operate the camera. It will be worth the effort of taking these photos I told myself. Ignore the cold, just do it.

The sunrise was simply magical. Soon forgetting the cold, you could not help but be mesmerised with the scene unfolding in front of you. Darkness was being tinged with the first rays of light out on the horizon, whilst Jo mingled with her charges, getting to know them and helping with breakfast.

With a gentle ease, the sun slid above the horizon, turning darkness to light as we thanked our chef and headed back to the vehicle for the trip to the base of Uluru.

First stopping at the park gates for clearance, we then drove on to National Park Land, home to the Anangu people. Don’t forget to organise your Park pass prior to arriving, it will cost a mere $25 for the few days you are here and the pass can be loaded on your mobile device for easy access.

The imposing rock grew bigger as we advanced down the road. Finally, we were going to get to witness this monolith up close.

Now Jo is one of the most engaging and heartfelt story tellers I have ever come across. Driving through the park she related stories of Anangu people and their beliefs. Listening as she told us of the history behind certain marks on the rock, you just could not help but be spellbound.

Eventually we arrived at the carpark at the base of the Uluru walk. The Anangu people ask that you respect their wishes and not climb the rock, however, it is open for walking until 26 October 2019 when it will permanently close. There have been many deaths resulting from attempts to climb the rock, dont allow yourself to become a statistical memory.

We had no intention of disrespecting the wishes of the community, therefore we did not climb, not even a short way. There were however a surprising large number of people clambering up the rock. Remember I mentioned the chain that Peter, the Curtin Springs station owner had installed many years ago? Well that is it snaking its way up Uluru. This is the chain Peter and four young men installed over the course of 8 weeks.

Wandering down the side path, I read the story laid out on the posts along the path about the Mala and Wintalka people, and the fight which resulted in a huge devil dog, Kurpany being sent to destroy the Mala peoples Ima (ceremony). Each story has a lesson to be learned. This one was to teach us that it is important to finish what you start and that you should watch and listen to warnings of danger. Rock formations are simply fascinating, and as we drove around to the other side of Uluru Jo told more stories of how these formations or holes in the rock occurred.

Around the back of the rock, every person in our group, including at one point a couple of cyclists who were passing through, were intently listening to every animated word. I was completely blown away not only by Jo’s knowledge, but the heartfelt way she delivered these stories, giving them every respect deserved.

We walked the path down into a little oasis of sand and water, tucked in amongst the sandstone rock forming Uluru. This peaceful area was heavy with spiritual presence from generations of the local community. A cave close by, had sheltered these generations in the past, and the drawings were still there from thousands of years ago.More photos on the facebook page and some on instagram. Simply amazing to see these still clearly showing on the rock face.The Cave wasn’t fully enclosed and one can only begin to imagine how difficult it would be living in these tough conditions, given our softer lifestyle now.

Our last stop was the Cultural Centre. You need to stop and wander through here, give yourself some time to do so and really soak it all in. Start from around the back and stroll through the tunnel which is cleverly put together, depicting community life over the years. There’s no photography allowed in here, so unfortunately I can not show how amazing this place is. But perhaps thats best left for you to find out yourselves.

Thank you to the Anangu people for allowing us access to this world heritage area. Your generosity in doing so is greatly appreciated. Remembering the words of Bob Randall, one of the traditional owners who has now passed, “We don’t own the land, the land owns us”.

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Uluru – Day Three ends with A Night at Field of Light

Day three at Uluru had begun with the Helicopter Tour. We then filled in the day by browsing the town centre shops for souvenirs, walking around the resort and taking in some of the awesome free activities. One of which was the incredible Mani Mani Theatre. You cannot take photos or video in the theatre, however we were completely blown away with the sheer brilliance of the story telling and interpretive dance. If you don’t stop in to see this you really are missing an incredible experience.

Our more relaxed, somewhat less strenuous day, was going to end with A Night at the Field of Light. This experience combines the popular Sounds of Silence dinner with British artist Bruce Monroe’s 50 000 light display, making for a totally unique and simply awesome evening.

Collected from our hotel, the AAT Kings coach took us to a secluded sand dune area, not far from the resort, tucked away behind the camel farm. After disembarking from the coach,you head up the sand dune to be met with trays of bubbly and smiling welcoming staff. Ok, you have my attention now, this is looking pretty good!!Glass in hand, mingle with your fellow tour participants, as the sun beings to drop down below the horizon for the night. Your backdrop is Uluru, which changes colour as often as the light reflections do.Raise a toast to the rock as you witness an almost silent sunset. The only noise out here, are the soft murmur of voices, a light clinking of glasses, punctuated only with the clicking of cameras and burst of laughter. Quietness envelopes you, very different from city life where noise is a constant reminder of life moving on.Trays of canapés are offered to all. Smoked kangaroo, crocodile, poached prawns, rosella and caramelised sweet potato are on offer to tempt your tastebuds. As the sun begins to disappear on the horizon, participants move location, with a short walk down to the area set up for your 5 star dinner.

A brilliant red carpet moves beneath your feet. Your ceiling this evening will be an incredible array of night stars. Gas heaters dotted throughout the white linen covered tables, will help to keep you warm. That group of strangers you are being seated with, will be your interesting companions for the evening.

Darkness falls as tables are filled and relaxed diners greet their fellow table companions. Staff check with each diner to ensure their choice of drink is catered for throughout the evening. Warming tomato and thyme soup is then served to the tables. Enjoy your entree, its a nice way to warm the insides as the temperature drops.

Each table is soon asked to head to the buffet, where you help yourself to a wide selection of food. On the menu tonight you have kangaroo, lamb, barramundi, chicken, vegetables and salad. Menu items are clearly named so pick your choice, head back to the table and savour those bush tucker flavours mixed with your choices. The beautiful sounds of the didgeridoo provide a soothing background to the laughter and chatter.

Finish your dinner with a variety of delicious sweets. By now you are full, cannot eat another thing. The flowing alcohol has relaxed everyone with friendships forged and stories shared.Beneath your sand dune, the field of lights below has sprung into life, with colours becoming more prominent through the evening.

After dinner, as all the man made light is extinguished, the incredible canopy of stars above your head comes to life. An onsite astronomer runs you through the constellations and planets twinkling peacefully above. As the laser points out specific areas, you are completely in awe of canopy of diamonds. With no man made light to interrupt, the sky above is absolutely exquisite. Never will you see something as brilliant as this from a brightly lit city.Tonights interesting astronomy lesson draws to close, patrons have utilised the best long drops you will ever see in your life, and before you know it, the time arrives to wander through the field of lights.

Glasses are left behind, staff begin to clear the tables as you all take your cameras to immerse yourself in this incredible display.The brainchild of British artist Bruce Monroe, this immersive coloured light experience covers 49000 square meters. 40 people took six weeks to plant the different coloured solar powered stems. Wander through the snaking paths. There’s a long or a short route. I chose the short route, only to give myself more time to stop and take photos.

You really cannot describe the feeling as you wander through the baubles of light. It is immersive, it is soul restoring.

As patrons emerge from the other side of the field, your waiting coaches display their resort destinations. Choose the coach you need and before long, you are safely back at your accommodation.

Another perfect end to a perfect day. It’s an early start tomorrow, with a Desert Awakenings tour starting the day, before a wander through Kata Tjuta.

Sleep easy, dreaming of sparkling stars and lights. Tomorrow is the last full day at this amazing outback destination.Remember to check all the other Dine Live Travel Platforms, including instagram, facebook, Pinterest and twitter. Photos, or coffee table albums are available upon request. Perhaps you may prefer to utilise our new itinerary service. Sweet dreams!

Uluru – Ayers Rock Helicopters Tour

After the massive day traversing Kings Canyon, we slept well, enjoyed a nice breakfast at Geckkos in the the town centre, and were then collected from our hotel for the Helicopter tour.Now, when you book this tour they do ask for approximate weights of each passenger. However, on the day you are also asked to stand on the scales prior to boarding the bus, holding everything you are taking on the flight. So be warned, make that weight as accurate as possible! The weights are then calculated by the pickup driver to work out where you will sit in chopper to ensure even weight distribution. Yes and its right about now, all that tasty outback damper and tucker you’ve been enjoying, comes back to haunt to you!

A quick trip out to the back of the airport, coupled with a safety brief and you are waiting in the van for the helicopter to return from its previous flight.

As the helicopter returns, hovers low to the ground, before landing for the previous passengers to disembark, the trepidation is building. Did I mention I’m somewhat terrified of heights and helicopters too? Yes Ive been in them before but, still a somewhat nervous passenger.

Our friendly driver takes photos for the previous group, refuels the helicopter and calls us over for our ride. Those blades aren’t stopping anytime soon, whirling happily waiting to lift the chopper of the ground again.

Five passengers per ride, 4 in the back and one in the front with the pilot, and its pretty cramped. Theres really not a lot of room to move, however before too long I’m happy to be in one of the middle seats, its a pretty awesome view straight in front and not as confronting as being next to a window. Shaking hands made it hard to connect the seatbelt but staff are more than willing to assist. Add the headphones to your attire, have the camera at the ready, and it was time for take off.

We had chosen the 30 minute flight which took us out by Uluru itself as well as Kata Tjuta. As we hadn’t been to either as yet, (those tours were tomorrow), this tour was a very interesting and great way to get the lay of the land.

All the time during the flight, our very relaxed pilot, explained the land formations for us as well as general history. Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara people are the traditional landowners and guardians,who have inhabited this area for 10 000 years. The Anangu people belong to the oldest culture known to man dating back 60,000 years. They believe that this landscape was created when time began during the travels of great ancestral beings, and their culture has always existed in Central Australia. Uluru and Kata Tjuta are used for traditional ceremonies and rites of passage and are said to both provide physical evidence of these ancient events. Their cultural awareness of the land around them is incredibly fascinating. Uluru is the aboriginal name which has been generally adopted since the government handover on 26 October 1985. Prior to this Uluru was knows as Ayers Rock.

After leaving the airport, we headed across the resort to towards Uluru itself. As we drew closer, you could see what an incredibly imposing sight this monolith was the air. Our pilot ensured everyone could see each angle, by manoeuvring the whirly bird around and changing side views so we all had the opportunity to take photos.

At every angle the view changed, showing the many varying parts of this incredible multi million year old monolith.

We would learn there are areas of the rock which are very sacred, all which are to be respected. Although at this time you could still climb this rock, on 26 October 2019, no one will be permitted to climb anymore and this inland iceberg will be permanently closed to climbers.The faint grey trail you can see heading up Uluru on the first outcrop in the middle of this photo, is the chain railing which was installed by Peter Severin of Curtin Springs Station so people could climb the rock. Peter was asked to install this at knee height which he did, to his knees, but unfortunately, no one allowed for the fact Peter is not that tall, hence the chain is quite low to the ground!

Leaving the rock behind for now we headed towards Kata Tjuta, or Mt Olga as the tallest peak is known. A mass of different large, domed rock formations or Bernhardt shapes and structures, Kata Tjuta also makes an imposing presence on the flat landscape. The pastel canvas rolls across the vast area before meeting the random formation collection.Red sand dominates from up here, with long, mainly straight roads heading into the distance. This one below us is closed to the public and accessible only by the local community men as it leads to a very sacred area where the boys are taken for their initiation into manhood. The area is so sacred, females of the local community will not look, or shield the view with their hands if they are travelling past at anytime.As we fly alongside Kata Tjuta, the randomness of these formations becomes very apparent.There is one point behind the mass, where you can see the three in a row. Away in the very background, right on the horizon you can just make out Mt Connor, in the middle is Uluru and right in front of us, Kata Tjuta. They actually all line up in a straight line which is somewhat fascinating in itself.

Here too, the colours change with the light. From bright oranges to moody greeny greys, the colours you see are quite intriguing.

After being wowed by this mass of rock peaks, we begin our return to the airport. Our pilot points out the way to Darwin and Perth, and showing us the salt lakes in the distance. This area was many years ago an inland sea. Before long, the coral reef which still remains, is just below us, stretching for kilometres across the landscape.

From up here the reefs are actually very obvious, quite incredible to think this entire area was fully covered by seawater. Hence the salt lakes which contain the salt left behind after the water evaporated.Oh theres the airport, relief! The ride has been very smooth, not really any bumps and sudden drops, luckily!Our driver is waiting, with the next group safely encased inside the van, as we commence that really long, slow hover just above the ground, before finally chopper gently meets tarmac and we are back on firm land again.

Our turn now for the photos in front of chopper, time to reel off a few more shots then its back to hotel, for a welcome wine to celebrate our survival! In all seriousness though, staff were nothing less than efficient, helpful and friendly. Thank you Ayers Rock Helicopters, we really enjoyed our memory creating experience!More photos from Dine Live Travel on Instagram, facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. Feel free to comment or contact dinelivetravel@yahoo.com.au if we can assist you in any way. Hope you enjoyed your ride!

Kings Canyon Rim Walk Tour – Part Two, It’s a big day!

With full bellies and all on the tour now wide awake, we left Kings Creek Station at about 8:15am. By 9am we would be climbing the iconic Kings Canyon, following the Rim Walk trail.Located around halfway between Alice Springs and Uluru, you are now truely in the heart of Australia’s Red Centre. Made up of layers of sandstone intercepted with hard shale, rising 270 metres above sea level, with areas plummeting down to the surprisingly lush Garden of Eden. This 400 million year old natural wonder, is a place of great significance to the original land owners, the Karrke local indigenous community. The Karrke people welcome you to respectfully climb, touch and explore, always keeping in mind the history and natural environment. Their only request being, do not swim in or touch the waters. Always be sure to respect the local communities wishes, these places are sacred to them and to allow tourists to visit something we might not otherwise get to see or experience is most generous.

Our bus dropped us in the car park next to the Canyon. It didn’t look too bad from the car park……! Here again though we were warned it was to be a strenuous walk for the next three or so hours, in particular the 500 steps up to the top. Some of the tour chose to stay on the bus and do the easier walk at the base of the Canyon, but the rest, we chose to complete the challenge.

Mitch gave us all a safety brief at the bottom, warning of the dangers, making sure everyone understood as well as emphasising these were the last amenities for the next three hours, so use them! But, most importantly, explaining how the emergency stations worked, and drumming home for us all to remember to take note of where the last station was as we traversed this natural wonder. Ok this is getting real now.

Before commencing the ascent, Mitch mentioned how he’d only seen one snake on the steps before today. Oh great, only one, I’m pretty sure that one will also have a family up there. Now, not only are we balancing cameras, climbing what looks to be a very steep 500 stone steps, keeping up with the group and still checking the view, we also had to watch for slithering wildlife. Ok, lets do this.

Yes, there are people climbing those steps. Look very small doesn’t they. This perspective gives you some idea of how steep the steps are. For those considering doing this, I’ll give you some insight as to how I worked up to this. Eighteen months ago I would not have even attempted this as I was on the surgeons list for two hips surgeries. However, in that time, I had not only built up my fitness, I had worked through the pain & challenges involved with a year of physio, followed by six months of PT sessions, to the point I could now complete 1000 steps on gym stepper in 10 minutes. The only difference being, the stepper was even and symmetrical. What for me was the most challenging about going up? Not the steepness or the number of steps, it was various heights and natural rock formations which proved challenging. My length of stride was still shortened, but at least I had fitness on my side.

Stopping along the way to look down and see how far we climbed, as well as snap some shots, I was by now, one of the stragglers at the back, letting those with the long easier strides, bounce ahead. In fact this was to be case throughout the walk with myself and a very highly entertaining 68 year old lady named Helen, who was also a photographer, as we kept up a the rear all morning. Mostly because we saw so many incredible photo opportunities, and as any photographer knows, you just have to stop and capture those shots.

After making those final steps which were high ones, we gathered at the top, slowed the heart rates, took those once in a lifetime photo memories, then continued along the top of canyon. Everything I had read, everyone we had spoken to, said that once you get to the top its flat. Actually its not. In fact, traversing the top is still a matter of watching your stepping, with some easier rounded walking areas, but still plenty of steps and clambering.

Before too long we were at the infamous Priscilla’s Crack (top photo above), named so, after being used as a setting in the movie, Pricilla, Queen of the Desert. Once you climb through the crack, you come across what looks like a natural amphitheatre, complete with stone layered seating. Soon you reach the edge of the Canyon again. From here, you start to slowly drop down.

The downward spiral brings you to a well built set of man made steps leading down into the lush Garden of Eden below. Remember to respect the wishes of Karrka people and refrain from touching the water.

The landscape changes constantly up here. One moment you are surrounded by the centuries old sandstone and shale, the next you are peering out across massive plunging chasms, marvelling at the sheer height and size of this incredible canyon. Rocks balance is what looks to be precarious positions, but somehow they stay there.

The photo above is simply for size perspective, yes that is a person across the other side. The walk back up from the Garden puts you on the opposite side of the canyon to were you started. It was a stark reminder of the dangers around the area, to see park benches named in memory of those who have lost their lives plunging from the edge. This is sandstone, not solid rock, and it can decide to fall away at any time. The photo below shows one of the Canyon faces where a massive sandstone area, completely fell off and collapsed into the chasm below.No matter how tempting it is to stand on the edge for the perfect selfie, dont do it. A park bench in your memory will not be the same as having you around in everyone’s lives. They’re called a zoom lens for a reason, use it.

We continued on around the rim before beginning the descent down. Now, the descent is not a straight steep descent like you walked up originally. It is a lot more gradual, but, the steps again are differing heights, with no hand rails to cling to. I was certainly most grateful to the helpful tour guides and participants who offered their steadying arms on the more difficult areas.

The difference at every turn is just mind blowing. You really cannot describe how impressive this part of our earth is. To have completed this walk in around 3 hours is an achievement, and we were rewarded with a short 30km drive to the Kings Canyon Resort here we could purchase lunch and a chilled beverage to celebrate our achievement at The Thirsty Dingo Bar.After resting and replenishing ourselves, it was time to board the coach and head back to Uluru. This was an interesting drive, as the journey down had been in complete darkness, now, we could see the landscape rolling out ahead. Mitch & Tachie both gave us some history and local information as we continued on up the road.There were to be some interesting stops on the way. The first was Australia’s most remote bus stop. Here at 3:15pm every day, 3 buses meet to swap passengers who are heading in another direction. The stop is located on Angas Downs station. This station was overgrazed with around 14000 head of cattle more than it could sustain. Remembering what I said in the first article about 4 cattle per 250 acres, thats a lot of overgrazing on this 320 500 hectare, roughly 1 million acre station. Still a baby station by Australian standards. Because of the overgrazing, it was handed back to the indigenous people, the Anangu, who are trying to turn the station around. An issue like that out here though, takes years to correct.

As you pass through, the flat topped, horseshoe shaped, Mt Conner comes into sight. This is the one commonly know as Fooluru as many people mistake it for Uluru. This inselberg is 400 million years older than Uluru, coming in at a whopping 750 million years old. We stopped to climb the sand dune off the highway, and view the one million year old Lake Amadeus, which is a 180km long salt lake covering 1032 square kilometres. In 1872 this expanse prevented Ernest Giles from discovering Ayers Rock and Kata Tjuta as the weight of his horses was not supported by the dry glistening white lake bed. There is reportedly around 600 million tonnes of dried salt on this lake, after the inland sea water evaporated..Our last stop on this epic day trip, was Curtin Springs Station. It took 9 years to drive the 1400 head of cattle from South Australia to the more than million acres settled as Curtin Springs in 1943, by John Curtin. In 1956 Peter Severin, his wife Dawn took over the lease, and over the first year, they and their young son, only received six visitors. Proving just how remote this area is.

Over the years this has been built up to accomodate tourists with a restaurant, shop a controversial liquor licence and camping facilities. Mitch stopped to have a chat to Peter Severin while we admired his baby red kangaroo. Make sure you stop and have a chat to the emu Mongrel, the previous emu Bastard is now deceased so Mongrel now reigns as head emu. Bird aviaries abound too, theres plenty to see here!

We are now a mere 100kms from Ayers Rock Resort. During the final part of our homeward journey, Mitch takes the time to sit next to each of the tour participants and have a chat to find out what you thought of the day. Nice personal touch Mitch!

Our wearied bodies head back to our rooms for some rest and relaxation After we reached the resort by 5:30pm. Time to unwind and stretch the muscles before another adventure packed day begins. On the return home, Mitch did mention we would be lucky tonight as there were enough clouds around to make for an incredible sunset. He was right! And wine in hand, we drank in the pure beauty and quiet surrounding us. Perfect end to an incredible day. Thank you must go to Mitch & Tachie who were awesome. Also to our patient and friendly driver Ivor. Mitch & Tachie if you read this or, if you know them, I’d be more than happy to pass on copies of other photos of you guys, just leave a message below or contact me via message on Instagram, facebook or dinelivetravel@yahoo.com.au.

More photos are available on facebook, instagram and Pinterest.

Thank you for your interest in this series. That’s the biggest day out of the way! Next up will be the helicopter tour.

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