5 Stunning Sites to See in Australia

Aboriginal Art

Arnhem Land
Arnhem Land

Kakadu and Arnhem Land are home to some of Australia‘s oldest occupied Aboriginal locations. Here, your eyes can soak up some earthy coloured, insect-like rock art, of patterned Emus and angular figures, painted with animal blood, clay and wood ash. Traditional art is associated with mythology relating to their dreamtime. Stories are told through images on rocks and represented through totems. Modern Aborigines often use synthetic paints on bark, taking inspiration from their ancestors’ subject matters and techniques.

The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef

Immerse yourself in a kaleidoscopic display of colour whilst you snorkel amongst the underwater gardens of soft and hard corals. You may come across stunning starfish, sponges and marine turtles which will make you feel at one with nature.

The world’s largest system of coral reefs, dotted with around nine-hundred islands, is home to many species of fish, such as the beautiful turquoise Parrot fish, the Clown fish and Mandarin fish, whose squiggly, stripes and dots are effective camouflage in their equally vibrant environment.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House

Like a ship with billowing sails, the Sydney Opera House sits along Sydney Harbour on Bennelong Point. Jorn Utzon, a relatively unknown Danish architect, was the winner of an International competition to design a national opera house based at Bennelong in 1957. The modern expressionist building houses a number of performance venues, including; The Concert Hall, Opera Theatre, Drama Theatre, Playhouse, Studio, Utzon Room and Forecourt. Located in the concert hall is the Grand Organ, the world’s largest mechanical action pipe organ, consisting of 10,500 pipes.

The Flinders Ranges National Park

The Flinders Ranges National Park
The Flinders Ranges National Park

The largest mountain range in Australia, The Flinders Ranges, stretches its vast, dusty red terrain across an area of 912 square kilometres. Eucalyptus trees and unusual rock formations dot the landscape, making it a fascinating geological area to explore. Some of the outcrops in this vicinity date back 560-million years, so there are many fossils, hidden like gems, waiting to be discovered.

Lord Howe Island

Lord Howe Island
Lord Howe Island

This idyllic island in the southwest Pacific Ocean is a crescent-shaped volcanic fragment of land. A limit of 400 people is allowed onto the island at any time, due to the small size of the island and the fact that there are only 400 licensed tourist beds. If you are amongst the privileged few, why not walk barefoot around this paradise and take a look at volcanic peaks, serene lagoons and refreshing forests? Ball’s Pyramid, a needle of rock 12 miles from Lord Howe Island, was discovered by Lieutenant Lidgbird Ball at the same time as the island, in 1788.

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Scuba Dive with Seahorses

Scuba Dive with Seahorses
Scuba Dive with Seahorses

Scuba divers have long been fascinated by these often extremely tiny critters. Seahorses are illusive photo subjects as they camouflage themselves by changing colour quickly to blend in with their surroundings. They also allow encrusting organisms to settle on them and they can grow long skin appendages to match their surroundings even better. During mating their skin will lighten and darken. Generally the easiest part of the seahorse to spot is the tail.

The seahorse is 1 of 4 families in the syngnathiform family order which also includes pipefish, flag tail pipefish and seadragons. They swim in an upright position with their tails down and their heads up. Their dorsal fin moves them forward and the pectoral fin controls steering and turning.

The pygmy seahorse is a recently discovered relative of the common sea horse and one of the divers most sought after finds. A lot of deco time and a magnifying glass will help in the search for these cryptic critters. They are roughly 15mm in length although some are smaller, and as their tail is always curled around a seafan, they appear even smaller.

Very little is known about their life cycle. They are thought to eat the same zooplankton as the seafans that they inhabit and they seem to prefer seafans to other family members, as there are normally few other inhabitants on a pygmy’s seafan.

Sea horse Fact Sheet

Family name: Hippocampinae
Order name: Syngnathidae
Common name: Seahorse
Scientific name: Hippocampus

Distinguishing Features

They are characterised by an elongated body encased in bony rings. Instead of scales that are found on most fish, seahorses have a thin layer of skin stretched over a series of bony plates. These plates show themselves as the bony rings along their body’s trunk. They have no pelvic fins but most have small pectoral fins and a single dorsal fin. They have a prehensile tail (able to grasp) and a tube-like mouth with no teeth, and small gill openings. Unlike (most) humans but similar to chameleons, seahorses can move their eyes independently of each other. They range in size from 10mm to 35cm, the largest species being the Pacific seahorse. Seahorses also have a coronet on the top of their head which is distinctive in all seahorses, in the same way that a thumb print is in humans.

Feeding habits

Seahorses eat small crustaceans which they catch by staying still and lying in wait. When prey comes near they snap them up. Their tube like mouth creates a vacuum that sucks prey in and they swallow their food whole. They can eat up to 3,000 brine shrimp per day.

Reproduction

Sea horses are unusual in a couple of ways. One is that they are monogamous and have long courtship periods when mating. Monogamy is unusual in all animals but especially in fish. There is some evidence to suggest that the longer a couple of seahorses stick together, the better they are at producing babies. Indeed, a male seahorse that is involved in an intimate relationship can be pregnant for as many as 7 months of the year. Once the male has given birth, he often becomes pregnant again right away.

Another unusual aspect of the sea horse is that it’s the male of the species that becomes pregnant and carries the eggs in a pouch on his belly, after the eggs have been deposited there by the female. The eggs are fertilised in the pouch and incubated until they hatch. Incubation lasts between 10 days and 4 weeks, depending on the species and water temperature.

At hatching, the male gives birth to fully developed but tiny versions of its species. The natural lifespan of seahorses is not known, but believed to be from 1 year for small species to 5 years for a larger species.

It is common in the fish world for the males to take care of the eggs by guarding them or fanning them to keep them clean and provide enough oxygen. But seahorses take parental care to an extreme unknown elsewhere in the animal kingdom. A capillary system provides nutrients to the young.

Want to Know Where to Scuba Dive with Seahorses?

The Barbigants pygmy seahorse (hippocampus barbiganti) can be found all over Indonesia in various colours and at all depths. They can be found in the muricella sea fans in Papua New Guinea, Philippines and Malaysia. These sea fans have bulbous red polyps as do the pygmy seahorses. This, along with their small size, is what makes them so difficult to spot.

Denise Hackett recently discovered a new pygmy seahorse species in Indonesia. It’s named after her, hippocampus Denise, but it’s often called the ‘plucked chicken pygmy seahorse’ due to its unusual appearance with a lack of the typical bumps (tubercles). Hippocampus Denise is normally found in light yellow gorgonians which, like the pygmy, are less bulbous with smaller polyps.

The weedy pygmy seahorse is an even newer discovery. First recorded in the Banda Sea in 2000, they are now regularly seen at Wakatobi and the Lembeh Strait. The Raja Ampat area is another good place to find them. This species is the smallest and most cryptic. They seem to move around more than other species making them even harder to pin point.

How to Spend 1 Day in Lima

Because Lima has the largest airport in Peru and is the capital of the country, most visitors find themselves there at some point or another, whether by air or overland from other destinations within Peru and South America. Whether you stop by the huge city before or after your trips to Machu Picchu, it is worth spending some time in the lively center where more than 8 million Peruvians call home. Here is an example of a great day to be had in Lima.

Parque Kennedy Park
Parque Kennedy Park

9 a.m. – Wake up slowly and slowly stroll out of your hotel or place of accommodation. Mornings are slow in Peru, and most stores and restaurants open at 9 or 10 a.m., sometimes later or not at all on the weekends and Sundays. Buy a stuffed meat and vegetable empanada pastry at the local bakery or bodega, and a glass of fresh juice. Take it to Parque Kennedy in the Miraflores district, then engage in some people watching as you enjoy your breakfast.

Miraflores Clifftop Garden
Miraflores Clifftop Garden

10 a.m. – When you are done eating, make way to Miraflores’ clifftop stretch of urban parks that hovers over the Pacific Ocean. This is a great way enjoyed by young and old alike, and it stretches from the San Isidro area down to Chorrillos. If you have the time and money, try paragliding off the cliffs with a trained professional for 15 minutes.

Cevicherias
Cevicherias

12 p.m. – Stop into one of many of Lima’s cevicherias which serve the national dish of fresh seafood cooked in a marinade of lime juice and other spices. It is usually paired with red onions slices, sweet potato, and corn kernels. Wash it all down wish some chicha morada, the deep purple corn juice drink perfect for a sunny afternoon. This experience should not be missed on any trips to Peru. Then, start heading to the historical city center.

The Plaza de Armas
The Plaza de Armas

1:30 p.m. – Spend the afternoon wandering the historical city center. The Plaza de Armas is a vibrant place to admire Lima’s colonial Spanish architecture and heritage. On the other hand, the Plaza San Martin is almost entirely white, making it a fascinating contrast to the Plaza de Armas. Take in the energy of the city and its local population.

Barranco
Barranco

10 p.m. – Peruvians like to start their nights late. Grab a drink in one of the downtown bars, or patron one of the more contemporary and hip discotecas in Miraflores or the bohemian Barranco neighborhood. Dance until the sun comes up, just as the locals do!

HolidayIQ Indonesia, A Place Where I Can Learn Indonesia Better

For traveler, like me, collecting as many information as possible about the destination I’m about to visit is important. It can really help me enjoy my visit and sometimes even save from bad things. The internet has given enough spaces for travelers to help other by sharing their travel experiences and guides.

Right now I’m planning my 3rd visit to Indonesia, this time I will be visiting Yogyakarta. A cultural city, a place where the second Royal Wedding was held few months ago. A historical territory with active volcano and hundreds years old temple. And I have found the right places to learn about Yogyakarta, and other destinations in Indonesia.

HolidayIQ Indonesia
HolidayIQ Indonesia

HolidayIQ, was originally started in India. Now this traveler community has also launched their Indonesian site. Fun! Here I can found lots of information on Indonesian destinations, hotels, things to do and even weather. The awesome part of this site is actually their reviews, my Yogyakarta Hotel booking was based on the reviews I found on this site. So if you’re planning to travel to Indonesia, you might want to check HolidayIQ Indonesia for your references.

ps. the site is in Indonesian, you might need Google Translate 😀

Unforgetable Disneyland

Disneyland
Disneyland

“The thing will get more beautiful year after year. And it will get better as I find out what the public likes; I can’t do that with a picture it’s finished and unchangeable before I find out whether the public likes it or not.” – Walt Disney on Disneyland.

Walt Disney found different reasons to build his seventeen million dollar Magic Kingdom in Anaheim in 1955. The idea had originally stemmed from his dissatisfaction with Los Angeles amusement parks in the late 1930s. While his two young daughters would ride the merry-go-round Walt would look at the tawdry surroundings and wonder why the place couldn’t be better. Also he was receiving letters from people who wished to take tours of the Disney Studio- what would they see, guys bent over drawing boards? Walt had flirted with the idea of a small park across the street from the studio, and then put it aside bowing to opposition from the city of Burbank, plus financial setbacks largely due to the initial failures of Pinocchio, Fantasia and Bambi. On a personal note in 1948 Walt built his own personal miniature railroad in his backyard. The one-eighth scale Carolwood Pacific was a fun hobby that allowed Walt to escape business pressures, but his wife Lillian wasn’t thrilled with her grown husband spending long days riding on a choo choo train through her begonias. Disneyland would eventually provide him with a bigger train to ride in without the spousal disapproval. But perhaps most important to Walt, Disneyland gave him a unique opportunity for a never-ending project.

For a perfectionist like Walt Disney filmmaking was often a frustrating experience. Even when one Walt’s pictures did well he sometimes lamented that they could have been better if he hadn’t faced a deadline or had a chance for a do over. After the short cartoon The Three Little Pigs (1933) became an enormous hit Walt had been pressured by bankers and distributers into making sequels, which had not been nearly as successful. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) had made eight million dollars at a time when movies cost 25 cents for adults and a dime for kids, yet Walt fretted about a scene where the prince seemed to shimmy and years later complained about not being able to improve on it. Other features that Walt personally loved such as So Dear to My Heart (1946) and Pollyanna (1960) did not do well at the box office. Walt had taken a shot at an ongoing task with Fantasia in 1940, the multi-segmented classical music cartoon could have theoretically, if Disney had his way, played forever with new sequences replacing others every few months. But Fantasia bombed at the box office in it’s first release and plunged Walt into debt. As Walt’s enthusiasm for pictures diminished, the idea of Disneyland took on a greater allure. Continue reading “Unforgetable Disneyland”

Adventuring in Downtown Chicago

Downtown Chicago
Downtown Chicago

Chicago, Illinois is without a doubt, one of the most popular and exciting vacation spots in all of North America. Forbes magazine states that Chicago’s Navy Pier is the tenth most visited tourist attraction in the United States of America, making it more popular than both Hawaii’s famous Waikiki Beach and the Grand Canyon in Arizona! Overall, over 45 million people visit the Windy City per year.

While rides, entertainment, exhibits and the overall family fun atmosphere of the Navy Pier are a top pull, there are plenty of other options to keep you busy during your stay to Chicago.

Rising 1,454 feet over the downtown area, the Willis Tower just may be Chicago’s most noticeable sight and a popular tourist destination in its own right. Previously called the Sears Tower, it stands 110 stories tall – making it the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Tourists to the Willis Tower can take a short elevator ride up to the 103rd floor sky deck. The famous skyscraper is positioned near the famous Chicago River in the heart of the “Loop” area and is within close proximity to several of the many Chicago hotels downtown. The views of sunsets from the top of the Willis Tower are incredible, so be sure to take advantage of this speedy elevator ride. (It closes at 8 p.m during the winter, and 10 p.m. in the summer). Continue reading “Adventuring in Downtown Chicago”

What? You Haven’t Been to Gdansk?

If you’ve never been to Poland, or Eastern Europe, then perhaps Gdansk is the ideal place to start.

Here’s why you need to book your flights to Gdansk.

1. Gdansk is a maritime city with lots to see and do, all year round. No matter what your interests are, you’re bound to be able to find plenty to see and do.

2. The history of this city goes back over 1000 years. There are lots of reminders of the past around the city, and it has previously been under German rule. Why not find out more about the history of the city whilst you’re here?

3. If Gdansk sounds familiar to you, it might be because it’s the home town of Lech Walesa, the leader of the Solidarity trade union formed in 1980. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, and was the RPime Minister of Poland from 1990 to 1995.

4. Gdansk also combines Sopot and Gdynia, and is known as a tricity. The metropolis has a Population of 750 000, making it a large city.

5. Sopot is a popular seaside resort with beaches, and means that booking flights to Gdansk is a good idea if you can’t decide between a week on the beach or a city break. You’ll get the best of both worlds when you visit Sopot.

6. Gdynia is a working port, and so there are lots of things to see and do here too. Why not see how and why the boats play such as huge part in the everyday lives of the residents.

7. The Old Town part of Gdansk is a tasteful mixture of old and new, and is helping Gdansk to move from its maritime history towards the petrochemicals, telecommunications and electronics that are essential in todays modern life.

8. Gdansk might be the ideal place if you need an Eastern Europe branch of your business. It’s an academic city, and so has plenty of of research facilities as well as labour and experience.

9. There is plenty of accommodation available here, and no matter whether you’re looking for a luxury hotel, or a family hotel, you’ll find the perfect place to stay, and enjoy your time here.

10. Thanks to low cost flights to Gdansk, it’s easy to get here, and within a few short hours, you could be experiencing this city for yourself. Whether you’re coming for the sun, or just to get away from it all, you’re bound to have a great time.

Now you know more about what goes on here, and why you need to visit, perhaps now is the time to book your flights to Gdansk and see it for yourself.