Whales, wine and a whole lot for families to discover

As the boat’s captain declared he had spotted our first whale, we intently stared across the water to try and see what he was. It was evident none of us had.

“Come on! It’s that dark whaley-looking whale over there,” he quipped.

Suddenly, there were gasps as we saw the dark back appear above the waterline, followed by the graceful flow of the tail as she disappeared under the water again.

It was the start of our evening whale watching tour off the beautiful Western Australian town of Dunsborough. We were to see a number of cruising female humpbacks and their young calves, as well as the playful antics of a young calf alongside its mum and a breaching display by another adult.

It was not the best trip of the season (putting it in the context of 2013 being one of the best seasons in years), but it was still an exciting sight for those of us on board.

For the uninitiated, whale-watching, which stretches roughly from June – December, is an unexpected delight of this region, better known for its food and wine.

Land-based whale-watching at Sugarloaf Rock.

Indeed, when I visited there was great promotion for the upcoming Gourmet Escape, which this year featured the UK’s very own Rick Stein and Heston Blumenthal.

Big names for a small town – when it comes to food and wine, the world knows Margaret River bats above its weight. But, as I discovered, it is only part of the story.

Do not for a minute think this South-West region is just for couples, intent of eating, drinking, relaxing and romancing.  With its array of scenery and activities, just a short drive from Perth (about 3 hours), this is a great place for families to visit and explore.

  1. The whales

Humpback and southern right whales are the most common species seen in this area, although the rare giant blue whale is also a visitor. The best way to get up and personal is to go on an organised whale watching tour. Ours provided life jackets for young children – a nice touch that certainly made the parents on our trip feel more secure.

Seeing a whale up close & personal is an amazing experience.

Seeing a whale up close & personal is an amazing experience.

Boat tours leave from Dunsborough and Busselton and there are also a number of land-based viewing areas you can try your luck at for no cost at all.

  1. The Busselton jetty.

At 1.8km in length, you won’t miss the Busselton Jetty – the longest timber-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. Built in 1865 and servicing mainly the agriculture and timber industries until it ceased functioning as an official port in 1973, the jetty is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region.

Enjoy a family tour of the Busselton jetty.

Enjoy a family tour of the Busselton jetty.

Children love riding the train to the end of the jetty, where you can descend 8 metres to the ocean floor to view the sub-tropical corals and fish that call the jetty structure home. There are more than 300 marine species living below the jetty.

A family pass to the underwater observatory includes a return train journey, 40 minute guided tour and jetty day pass.

  1. Food, wine & beer

Of course, you cannot visit this area without trying some of the local food and wine, not to mention a locally crafted beer. Your hardest decision will be choosing where to stop.

With families in mind, the Geographe Bay Tourism Association has compiled a pamphlet that details the wineries and breweries with child friendly features – a perfect accompaniment to your day’s tastings. Pick one up at the local tourist information office.

Lovely scenery and great food for all the family at The Deck Marina Bar & Restaurant.

Lovely scenery and great food for all the family at The Deck Marina Bar & Restaurant.

3 Oceans, Cheeky Monkey Brewery, Wills Domain, Eagle Bay Brewery and Woody Nook are just a few that will keep your children occupied. Many places offer meals too.

Other places that will put a smile on your child’s face include Simmo’s Ice Cream, Miller’s Ice Creamery, The Margaret River Chocolate Factory and Old Cheddar Cheese Company

  1. Bunbury dolphins

I have loved dolphins since I was a child, rushing home from school in time to watch Flipper. But your children can see them for real at Dolphin Discovery Centre in Bunbury.

Here dolphins come into the shallows in-front of the centre, with early morning the most common time.  You can also learn more about these beautiful creatures in the centre, which includes a 360 degree ‘Digital Dolphinarium’ where you can experience a dolphin’s world.

The centre also runs a dolphin eco cruise to allow you to see local bottlenose dolphins in Koombana Bay. A ‘swim with the dolphins’ tour is also offered.

6.        Cape Naturaliste

The Cape Naturalist lighthouse marks the start of the Cape to Cape Track (to Cape Leeuwin, further south).

Your children will love exploring the lighthouse and hearing about shipwrecks, life as a lighthouse keeper, not to mention the resident ghosts.

Purchase a family ticket for a fully guided tour or buy a combined ticket to visit the nearby Ngilgi Caves.

  1. Caves

A visit to the underworld will be a feature of any family holiday in this area.

Located underneath the limestone ridge that is part of Cape Naturaliste, the Ngilgi Cave is a short drive from Yallingup. Rich in Aboriginal legend (and named after a good spirit, Ngilgi), the cave has beautiful stalactite, stalagmite, helicitite and shawl formations.

Your children will love exploring the many caves found in the Margaret River region.

Your children will love exploring the many caves found in the Margaret River region.

Further south, closer to Augusta, you will find an underground wonderland, with four caves to explore. They include Jewel Cave, home to one of the world’s longest straw stalactites; Lake Cave, with its stunning white formations and reflections; Mammoth Cave, which has 3 show-caves you explore at your own pace.

Between June to December, the more adventurous can visit Moondyne Cave. Not being partial to dark, small spaces, I went on this guided tour with some trepidation.  The first to open up to tourism (with historic graffiti to prove it), it was closed to the public for many years, only re-opening in 2012.

There are only basic walkways and hand-holds and no lighting – you carry your own light on your helmet. But this makes for a unique, ‘soft adventure’ experience – with only one small tunnel that requires you to get on your hands and knees and crawl through. See package prices.

7.        The beaches

The beauty of this area, particularly for families, is the diversity of experiences you can have in such a small area. And the beaches are no exception.

From the tranquil calm waters of Busselton and Dunsborough, through to the pure beauty of Bunker Bay, and the surf breaks of Yallingup and Prevelly (where Margaret River meets the sea), you will find a beach perfect for you and your children.

Bunker Bay is one of the gorgeous beaches in the area, many of them toddler friendly.

Bunker Bay is one of the gorgeous beaches in the area, many of them toddler friendly.

Between Busselton and Dunsborough, you will find a number of family friendly accommodation options right on the water, including Siesta Park and Cape View Apartments.

Whether it is water-based or land-based (bike paths and scenic walking trails) activities you are after, you will soon realise the beaches here are pretty damn perfect.

8.  Farm stays

This region also has a growing reputation for farm experiences and farm stays.

For a day trip, visit Country Life Farm or Wonky Windmill Farm and Eco Park to see & feed farm animals, as well as some Australian natives, including kangaroos and emus.

There are also a number of farm accommodation options for those who would like to linger longer with the animals.

9. Kids fun

If food and nature still does not cut it, don’t despair. There are plenty of fun places to visit with your children.

Xscape at the Cape is a fun park just outside Dunsborough. With 10 trampolines, mini golf just some of the activities on offer – and a brand new water play park due to open this Australian summer – this is just the place to wear out your children.

For those who want to ‘lose’ their children for a short amount of time – or do what we do and set up mum vs dad teams and get competitive – choose from the timber maze at Yallingup or the beautiful hedge maze at Amaze’n Margaret River.

10. Surfing and paddle boarding

Older children might want to try their hand at surfing or paddle boarding.

There are plenty of options to get you out on the water, including hiring a kayak to explore the bays and inland river systems or even hire a small power boat – who knows you might be able to catch your own dinner.

The Yallingup Surf School offers a one hour ‘micro-grom’ session for under 10s .The Margaret River Surf School also offers group and private lessons, as well as stand up paddle boarding. Stand up paddle boarding lessons are offered through Stand Up Paddle Surfing.

Stay: Visit Family Friendly Accommodation for some great accommodation options, including Siesta Park Holiday Resort and Forte Cape View.

 

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Leave your excess baby baggage at home and hire it on holiday.

I am about to tell you a true story. Some of your might be able to relate to it.

My husband is Tasmanian, which means we have done a fair bit of travelling across Bass Strait. One Christmas, to save money, hubby had gone across with our car on the ship & I was flying with the two children.

I can’t recall their ages, but Miss 8 was in a baby car restraint. This had not been sent across with the car as I needed it back in Melbourne. Anyway, I proceeded to check-in and made the flight to Hobart – only to realise on arrival that the baby-seat was still strapped into the car in Victoria.

It is not a good feeling as you kick yourself for being so stupid, then stress about all the accidents you are going to be involved in during the short drive from the airport to where you are staying.

Luckily for new mums these days, travelling is made so much easier by the variety of baby equipment hire available, much of it targeting the travel market.

Forget spending the first day of your holiday at op shops trying to find a baby-seat (I can attest to the fact this is not fun). Arrange to have what you need waiting for you at the other end.

Hire for Baby has franchises around Australia and can help with the hire of a range of baby equipment, including car seats, cots, prams, highchairs and even some play equipment. They even have roll-away beds, perfect for older children.

As a special pre-Christmas offer, anyone who books and pays for their holiday equipment before 30 November, goes into the draw to win $100 cashback on their hire.

With the summer holidays approaching, it is great incentive to get booked now.

Break your journey and experience family fun in Dubai

It’s that time of year again when Australian travellers are spoilt for choice with a wide range of 2014 earlybird airfares now on offer to Europe. But for families, choosing the right airline to travel such a long distance is almost as important as the holiday itself.

As any parent knows, flying with children can present some challenges, especially when travelling for almost 24 hours straight. So why not break the journey?

Dubai offers the perfect stopover for you and the kids to pause and recharge before continuing your journey. Emirates offers flights to Dubai and beyond daily from five Australian cities, with flights touching down at the Emirates hub, a purpose-built facility created to transform your travel experience with faster boarding and great facilities on both sides of your journey.

emirates

Dubai is an ideal family destination. Think endless sunshine, azure water, fine beaches, super-sized shopping malls and out of this world attractions and you’ll get an idea of what the city is all about. It’s one of those destinations your kids will not be able to get enough of.

Family-friendly accommodation in Dubai

dubai

As you’d expect, there are numerous five star resorts and hotels in Dubai – but there are still plenty that won’t break the budget.

If your stay in Dubai is long enough to need somewhere to rest your head, but short enough to make you wonder whether it’s worth finding a hotel, then you should try the Dubai International Hotel. Located at the airport, you can be off your plane and checked in before you know it. The contemporary, clean and comfortable hotel is a great place to lay your head for a nap between flights and it’s completely hassle free. You can also hop on a quick city tour to check out the main sights before you need to board your next flight.

If, however, you have a few more days to spare, it’s worth finding a place to stay that is central, so you can make the most of the city attractions. You may find the flexibility of a serviced apartment suits your needs the best as they offer great value for money. You get more space than a hotel room and you can cater for yourselves from the local supermarket if you’re on a budget, or eat out at different places if you fancy experiencing what Dubai has to offer.

Pearl Marine Hotel Apartments are located about thirty minutes from the airport and offers great views of the waterfront. Close to plenty of restaurants and shops, it’s an ideal spot to choose as your base. With options of studio apartments through to three bedrooms it can cater for larger families without the costs of purchasing multiple hotel rooms. It has a pool and WiFi, so you still get the sort of facilities you’d expect from a hotel, just with more freedom.

The Ascot Hotel Apartment is another apartment option. Located in central Dubai close to the main attractions, the serviced accommodation is both affordable and convenient. There’s a café on site and you can order room service, which is great if you want to relax after a long journey.

If you’d prefer to stay in a hotel, the Premier Inn Dubai Silicon Oasis is a trusted brand that offers affordable accommodation. It offers a free shuttle to the beach and shopping malls, and has a rooftop pool so you can kick back and relax between theme park visits.

Family fun in Dubai

Dubai could easily entertain your family for a fortnight – there’s so much to see and do, no matter how old your children.

You can learn about the country’s history, tradition and nature on a cultural tour or a desert adventure (where older kids will love sand-boarding).

sandboarding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are also many man-made attractions to experience:

Aquadventure – this enormous water park has 42 fun-filled rides. Brave the near vertical slides that catapult you into shark-infested lagoons, experience your first uphill water rollercoaster, ride the 1m high rapids on the tidal river that runs through the park, chill out on the beach or play in the splash park with your little ones.

aquadventure

Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo – this 10-million litre tank is the largest suspended aquarium in the world and home to thousands of aquatic animals. There’s a 48m walk-through tunnel providing amazing views under the tank. Visitors can take a glass-bottomed boat ride or try a cage snorkelling experience. For the adventurous members of your family, there’s even a shark dive.

SEGA Republic – this giant indoor theme park contains 14 adrenaline-fuelled rides and over 170 of the latest amusement, video and arcade games including motion simulators, classic games and competitive tests of skill. This place will have the kids entertained for hours.

Ski Dubai – an indoor ski slope is probably not what you expected to find in the desert city, but Ski Dubai has created perfect conditions to hit the slopes. Whether you want to take lessons or brush up your skills, a day here will be a hit with the whole family. Throw snowballs, try your hand at snowboarding and indulge in big mugs of hot chocolate. When you’ve finished, take off the woolly hats and thick coats and step out into the beautiful sunshine.

skidubai

Wild Wadi Water Park – located next to the stunning Burj Al Arab, Wild Wadi offers 30 rides and attractions for all ages. With huge pools, wave machines, sun decks, slides, rides and surf simulators, you certainly won’t get bored.

Find about these places and more and start planning your Emirates flights and Dubai stop-over now.

Spotlight on our nation’s capital

As the dust settles on our most recent Federal election (no political comment offered or requested), Canberra is currently shining in all it’s glory for the annual spring Floriade. This year, the colourful event is celebrating the capital’s 100th birthday. It is just one of many reasons to take your family to discover our nation’s capital.

I think of CanCanberra is awash with colour during Floriade.berra as an educational experience for families – but one that is both interesting and fun. And in a bonus for those on a budget, there are a number of places that offer free entry. The only problem you will have is that with so many places to visit, you will have to work out which activities appeal more.

 

WHAT TO DO

National Museum of Australia: As well as learning about Australian history, including our rich indigenous heritage, there are hands on experiences for younger visitors. There are guided tours (fee) but general admission is free, making it a great place to visit for those on a budget.

Australian War Memorial: Learn about our military involvement in conflicts throughout the ages. The Discovery Zone, which is the memorial’s educational space for school groups, is also open to the public from 12.30-1.30pm on weekdays and on weekends and school holidays. Admission is free and free guided tours are also available.

Visit the Australian War Memorial.

Parliament House: Visit the home of Australian democracy. Free guided tours are available and when Parliament is sitting, more politically enthusiastic families can sit in on question time.

CSIRO Discovery Centre: The CSIRO Discovery Centre offers an interactive journey through CSIRO and Australian science history. Science is presented in an entertaining way to demystify it, and educate people of all ages about the world of research and innovation. Only $20 for family of up to 5.

Questacon: The National Science and Technology Centre makes science fun. See the spectactular science show, In addition to exhibitions, including awesome earth and mini Q, especially for pre-schoolers. special events run throughout the year. And if visiting before 11 November, check out the exhibition, Do sea monsters really exist?

The whole family will love visiting Questacon

Australian Institute of Sport: Go behind the scenes at Australia’s premier elite sporting precinct. You might catch some of Australia’s top athletes in training, and because every tour is guided by an elite athlete, you’ll get to ask plenty of questions.

National Dinosaur Museum: The National Dinosaur Museum was started in 1993 and has grown from a small collection to the largest permanent display of dinosaur and other prehistoric fossil material in Australia. With 23 complete skeletons, and over 300 displays of individual fossils, the museum continues to grow.

National Zoo and Aquarium: If your children love animals, check out the National Zoo and Aquarium. The zoo offers a number of animal encounters (fee and bookings required) as well as a ‘Zoocation’ school holiday program. The aquarium is being renovated and will have major construction works throughout September (2013)

Cockington Green Gardens: A fascinating display of miniature buildings set within beautifully landscaped gardens. Cockington Green Gardens first opened in 1979. The park is constantly growing, with work currently underway on Canberra House, the first building constructed in the Australian Houses Project.

The Great Outdoors: Canberra is not just about being indoors. In addition to Lake Burley Griffin and its surrounding parklands, you can also visit the Australian National Botanic Gardens, see aboriginal rock at in the Namadgi National Park, spot rare rock wallabies at Tidbinbilla Sanctuary and visit the national arboretum  with its nature themed pod playground.

The Pod Playground at the National Arboretum.

LOCAL EVENTS:

September/October: Floriade

October: Canberra Nara Candle Festival

March: Canberra Balloon Spectacular

Where to stay: See Family Friendly Accommodation

More information: Visit CanberraEvents ACT

Upgrade for Gold Coast’s Paradise Resort

When Melbourne mum, Sharon, stayed at Paradise Resort in October last year, in her review for Family Friendly Accommodation, she said she loved the resort, but commented that her room could do with an update.

Well, the resort owners knew this as well and plans were already underway. And this month, a $2 million refurbishment of 100 rooms has been unveiled.

According to Paradise Resort, a high demand for accommodating larger families, combined with the chance to further the holiday experience at the Resort, was behind the upgrade.

Resort General Manager, David Brook, said the refurbishment was only stage one of the Resort’s upgrade.

“The 100 rooms are made up of 78 Superior Resort Rooms, 9 Superior Junior Bunkhouse Rooms and 12 Superior Family Rooms, and 1 Family Spa Suite” said Mr Brook.

The refurbished family suite at Paradise Resort

The refurbished family suite at Paradise Resort

“Our Family Rooms and King Bunkhouses traditionally sleep five people, so for families of six or more, the only option has been to purchase two resort rooms.  We have now added bunk beds to our Superior Family Rooms allowing the room to sleep up to six people.”

Resort owner Robert Zagame, who has a background in design with his own fashion label Robb & Lulu, was instrumental in making sure the rooms are modern and vibrant, but family-friendly and practical.

“We have a firm ‘kids first‘ philosophy at the Resort, catering for babies and toddlers right through to 12 year olds. By focusing our attention on keeping kids happy and entertained, we ensure that our parents’ stay is that much more enjoyable,” Mr Brook said.

In addition to design enhancements the stage one refurbishment includes the installation of microwaves to all of the Superior Resort Rooms for added convenience and all rooms will be fitted with HDMI and USB ports for direct plug in access.

“All rooms have received a total refit including all furnishings and a total bathroom fit out and guests can upgrade to one of these newly renovated rooms for only $30 more than their original version,” he said, adding that the remaining rooms were planned to be renovated next year.

Learn more about staying at Paradise Resort. And if you stay in one of the newly refurbished rooms, why not write a review to let others know about them.

Thunderegg fossicking – unearth a mystery

What little boy does not dream of exploring and discovering treasure? And what little girl will not be transfixed by colourful gems?

If you are travelling to the Gold Coast, let your inner Indiana Jones shine through at Thunderbird Park. With so much to do, you should also consider staying a night or two at Cedar Creek Lodges.

The following information has been provided by Thunderbird Park:

Thunderbird Park on Tamborine Mountain is a wildlife and geological rich oasis, stretching over 112 hectares. Translucent rock pools, inspiring landscapes, towering rainforests and star studded skies add to the magic.

This family friendly property includes the Adventure Parc, high ropes course, a Laser Skirmish jungle village and horse trail riding tracks, but thunderegg fossicking is one of the most popular activities.

Fossicking for gemstone-filled thundereggs

Fossicking for gemstone-filled thundereggs

Thunderbird Park has the largest deposit of thundereggs in the world. The mineral rich seam running through Mount Tamborine was discovered in 1967.  Thundereggs are easy to find and your family can fossick for this treasure in the 300 by 50 metre open cut mine.

You can also meet local rock expert and Thunderegg Mine manager Pete Ellis (AKA Rockodile Dundee) and find out more about these fascinating formations that have been hidden just below the ground since dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Pete says the formation of thundereggs is something of a mystery.

Find treasure-filled thundereggs, formed millions of years agoIt seems volcanic upheavals that took place millions of years ago caused bubbles to form in silica-rich material,” he says.

“Hot gases and steam was trapped in nodules, it expanded and some mineral structures joined together in the cavities. As the earth cooled, the material shank to produce the characteristic star-shaped cavity.

“Silica minerals entered the cavity and solidified to become chalcedony (a microcrystalline type of quartz). Crystals were deposited on the cavity walls. The repetition of these processes produced the interesting patterns and colours that give thundereggs universal appeal.”

Thundereggs - colours can be intense or subtle.

The Thunderegg Mine is open every day except Christmas Day and Good Friday from 9.30 to 2.30pm. The admission price includes a mining permit, a pick and a bucket to put the treasures in.

Thundereggs can be cut and polished for a small fee. Jewellery and artefacts made from thundereggs are on display and for sale in the Rock Shop. See Thunderbird Park for more information and bookings.

Horror holiday accommodation

I was listening to the radio recently and the talkback topic was ‘horror holidays.’

Luckily, I love researching my holiday accommodation to the enth degree, so most times the places we stay are wonderful. But occasionally it can all go pear shape.

When it comes to horror holiday accommodation, Venice 2011 is at the top of my worst accommodation list.

I was really looking forward to staying in this apartment, located just metres from St Mark’s Square.

The main bedroom of our Venice apartment

The main bedroom of our Venice apartment

As you can see from the photo, the apartment looks beautiful. And it was. But looks can be deceiving and from the outset, we had nothing but trouble.It started when the booking agency rep was 45 minutes late for our greeting. OK, I could live with that, but our meeting point was a vaporetto stop and it had been stressed that we had to be on time.

Also, no-one contacted us to say she was running late, which then made us question whether we were at the right vaporetto stop.

The other main issue was the hole in the shower floor. We noticed it, but as nothing had been said, presumed it had been sealed underneath. However, we soon discovered this was not so.

Not long after the heavy glass shower screen fell onto my 60-something year old mum (making the original hole even bigger), we heard banging on the front door. It was the tenants from downstairs who told us water was pouring through the ceiling.

Obviously, this was a pretty stressful start to our stay in Venice. The people who answered the number we were given for emergencies did not want to know about it. We then reported the problems to the agency’s head office in Rome.

Although no-one ever rang us back, the next day, we arrived back from sightseeing to find the shower taped off with a sign saying not to use it (great when we booked a two bathroom apartment for 6 people), and two days later, found workmen letting themselves into the apartment.

Is this a "beautiful view on a private typical Venetian courtyard"? But it does show how close we were to St Mark's Square.

Is this a “beautiful view on a private typical Venetian courtyard”? But it does show how close we were to St Mark’s Square.

As for the other issues that we continued to discover throughout the stay:

  • the second shower also had a faulty door, which kept threatening to fall off. The tradesmen told us they were also replacing it
  • we could not use the main bedroom air conditioner, as water poured through the ceiling after it was turned off
  • although self-contained with a kitchenette, there was no plug for the sink and no tea towels provided. There were also no powerpoints, which meant we had to use the kettle in the bathroom and the toaster on the living room floor
  • a large number of light bulbs were blown. We had noticed this on arrival and were told some replacements would be left at the apartment. This did not occur, leaving more than half the lights unusable. The TV remote battery was also flat
  • only one set of keys was provided, although we had told the agency there were two families staying together
  • the apartment was described as having a “beautiful view on a private typical Venetian courtyard”. This is not true. The windows open onto one of the busiest thoroughfares from St Mark’s square.

Not wanting to end this story on a negative note, we did stay in some wonderful accommodation on our European holiday, including Villa Rosa, near Lucca and Coltur Suites in Sorrento.

Do you have any holiday accommodation horror stories? I would love to hear them.

Fire, wind and rain – keeping safe these summer holidays

As I sit here, curtains drawn to keep the house cool as Melbourne heads for a hot top of 37 degrees, I thought it was time to update one of my first blogs about what to do if you are holidaying during severe weather conditions.

With authorities in many Australian states warning of a pending high risk bushfire season, it is not just people living in these areas who need to be aware of what to do, but also those planning to holiday there.

ash wednesday

The cross at Mount Macedon – a powerful symbol of survival after the devastating 1983 Ash Wednesday fires.

Having been a child living on the fringe of an area decimated in Victoria’s 1983 Ash Wednesday fires, then losing a family friend in the 2009 Black Saturday fires, it is an      issue I am extremely conscious – even paranoid about.

The day of the 2009 fires, we were going to visit my parents but changed our mind because of the horrendous weather conditions. If we had gone, we would have been driving along the very same highway that the fires engulfed. Too close for comfort.

So, if you are holidaying in a high risk area – or plan to travel into a high risk area on a declared extreme fire danger rating or higher, what should you do?

Preparing for bushfires

Luckily, there are resources out there that you can look up before you go. A great place to start is to familiarise yourself with the websites of the various state-based fire authoritie, including Victoria, New South Wales, South AustraliaQueenslandTasmania.

Victoria’s Country Fire Authority website has a travellers’ checklist you can print out. Importantly, their advice is to never travel into a high risk bushfire area declared Code Red – and if you are staying in such an area, leave the day before.

Know the danger rating of the area you are travelling through.

Know the danger rating of the area you are travelling through.

Other things to consider:
• Do you know the names of the fire weather districts you are travelling through? This will important to know if any warnings are issued.
• Check the latest fire danger ratings for the areas you are travelling to and through.
• Find out about bushfire safety plans for the area you are staying in.

The CFA also has a FireReady smart phone app which will provide you with the latest fire safety information.

You can also download a Tourism Victoria brochure – Staying in high risk bushfire areas. Safety tips for visitors.

South Australia has seen many devastating bushfires, and already just last month, a major bushfire threatened Tulka, a township just 12km from Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula.

The November 2012 Tulka bushfire

The November 2012 Tulka bushfire

The Country Fire Service has information for travellers which includes the names of fire districts, as well as radio frequencies to tune into for up-to-date advice.

Staying safe during floods and cyclones

As any Australian will know, bushfires are not the only natural disaster that we face. The summer-autumn period can also produce cyclones and flooding.

The power of Cyclone Yasi is evident on the satellite imagery

The power of February 2011’s Cyclone Yasi is evident on the satellite imagery

Queensland experienced devastating floods in January 2011. If travelling in Queensland during the wet season, you should learn about how to avoid floodwaters and what to do if caught.

As Australia’s largest state, Western Australia has a range of weather conditions and can experience the threat of bushfires, floods and cyclones.

You can find safety information on the Fire and Emergency Services Authority website
The Bureau of Meteorology also has some goods tips on surviving a cyclone, with links to other state-based websites.

I know there is a lot of information here, but pick what is relevant to you based on where you are travelling to. Print it out and keep it with your other travel documents.

And most importantly, have a safe holiday with your family this summer.