BUCKET-LIST BALLOONING

The hot air balloon is the first successful human-carrying flight technology. For this reason, hot air ballooning had always been on my bucket list. One morning in the desert, we piled into the basket and effortlessly ascended from the red earth. There was something so calming about the entire experience. The landing was seamless, we jumped out of the basket and held the sides to weigh down the balloon. Not even packing down the 2,800m3 setup could wipe the smile from my face. Prepare for dad jokes, champagne breakfast, fresh fruit, cheese and baked goods post flight! 1 hour Investment: Adults $390.00 | Children: $318.00

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ULURU ROCK

ROAM where the wild ones live.
THE NORTHERN TERRITORY – a place you have to see to believe… #letslivelarge

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PHOTOGRAPHY & WORDS BY PORTIA LARGE 

In preparation for this journey, I took my time in selecting comfortable clothing and footwear created to withstand outback conditions. Field tested and designed specifically for the outdoors, the diverse range of big brands at Wild Earth Australia caught my eye. If you’re backpacking, hiking, travelling or trail running, you’ll appreciate their staff knowledge and enthusiasm in sending you on your way in the best gear possible. www.wildearth.com.au

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Seriously comfortable waterproof, leather hiking boots by @wildearthaustralia


ALICE SPRINGS to ULURU (AYERS) ROCK

Our first glimpse of the Uluru Rock was revealed on the winding road to the Sounds of Silence outback dining experience. The icon appeared to change colour as the sunset, from red to pink to purple.

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Jacket: @wildearthaustralia – The North Face

Here you can enjoy bubbles and canapes on arrival, followed by a feast of kangaroo, chicken, barra, and baked potatoes. I had a light shiraz, admired the stars and enjoyed indigenous entertainment. Investment: $195.00 p.p

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OUTBACK CYCLING AROUND ULURU ROCK

Here you can reach out and touch the heart of Australia. @outback_cycling around the base really puts the size of this icon into perspective. That day blue skies were a bold contrast to the red mountain. Weathered by time, you could see where waterfalls form in the wet season. Bike hire from $45.00 p.p

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Wearing: @elementeden hoodie | @runstopshop tights | @stmbags backpack 

Despite rumours, Uluru Rock is in fact free to climb. Rangers do, however, out of respect for indigenous people and for safety reasons, close the World Heritage attraction at every opportunity – wind, weather, temperature. In the past 18 months, 36 climbers fell and we soon discovered why…

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School students climbed toward the summit as our tour guide shared stories of horror falls. The lack of fencing and 4-hour journey to the hospital was enough of a deterrent for me. I felt very comfortable cycling around the base!


FIELD OF LIGHT TOUR

Internationally acclaimed artist, Bruce Munro, thoughtfully placed over 50,000 solar charged lights at the foot of Uluru Rock to create ‘The Field Of Light’ interactive art installation. You can experience this attraction before March 2017 on camel back, at tea time or sunrise. We choose the latter and braved freezing temperatures for a view almost as impressive as the night sky. By sunrise, I managed to capture both the stars and display, using slow shutter mode. That morning I felt like a real photographer, laying in the tumbleweed and dirt to get the shot! I’d definitely recommend wearing plenty of layers for this one: thermals, a beanie, and gloves – the works! Sunrise tour from $89.00 p.p

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PRIVATE SUNSET CAMEL TOUR

It was great to see the rock from another angle and post camel ride you can enjoy complimentary drinks and nibbles in an upbeat environment.

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Wearing: @elementeden

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INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIA

PHOTOGRAPHY & WORDS BY PORTIA LARGE 

Traditional hunting methods are still alive among indigenous Australians. To this day the women of Kakadu hunt and forage for food locally. On my journey, I made friends with a young girl at Warradjan Aboriginal Culture Centre – she had never explored beyond Kakadu and was fascinated with city living. When I asked of her favourite foods, she said she loves snake eggs for breakfast and that they were much better than chicken eggs!

“Wanna snake egg – easy!” she exclaimed. “You gotta find a snake hole”. I asked what to do once I found one, to which she replied: “Put your hand down there and grab it”. Simple as that – bush delicacies are for the brave. I wouldn’t risk it – not for the best scrambled eggs of my life! In this part of the NT, locals enjoy buffalo, crocodile, turtle and snake meat.

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After learning the local hunter-gatherer lifestyle, I wanted to test my skills at Top Diji spear throwing. After several attempts to improve my technique, it was apparent I did not excel in javelin class and wouldn’t last long in the wild with only a spear – hello hangry!

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Perhaps I’d shine in a more creative outlet – dot painting. Thinking of myself as a bit of a free spirit, I chose to paint one – Mimi Spirits are fairy-like beings of Indigenous tribes. With extremely thin, elongated bodies these spirits are said to have taught Australian Aborigines to hunt, use fire and dance.

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DESERT PARK ALICE SPRINGS

With the help of a head torch, we spotted echidnas and bilbies within minutes at the @desertparkalicesprings Nocturnal Tour. The next day we returned to check out the birds of prey show. With a wingspan of almost 3m, I found the desert eagle most impressive. Aside from getting to know all of the awesome Aussie animals, you can sample indigneous bush tucker like passion fruit, beans and tomato raisins. Investment: $32.00 p.p

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KINGS CANYON

PHOTOGRAPHY & WORDS BY PORTIA LARGE 

Fuel up at buffet breaky, the 3.5-hour rim walk will test you with a 500 step vertical warm up! Increase difficulty by carrying a drone box, camera equipment, bulk water and food. Fear not, the view gets better at every bend and you’ll probably welcome the exercise if you’re road tripping. Along the way we stumbled upon the “Garden of Eden” (pictured below). This shady oasis is safe for swimming and a great picnic spot.

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Another world awaits you at the top… Kings Canyon, Australia’s Grand Canyon. Standing on the edge overlooking the canyon, I realised discomfort awakens consciousness. Without the hard times, we become complacent and take our blessings for granted. Life is a gift and I’m determined to travel as far as my legs will carry me, for as long as I am able. Investment: Adults $69.00 pp | Children $35.00 pp

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Outfit: @wildearthaustralia ft. The North Face | Backpack: STM Sydney 

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OVERNIGHT AT KINGS CANYON RESORT

@kingscanyonresort was easily my favourite accommodation in the Northern Territory! Here you’ll get mooned between 7 and 9pm… On this occasion I bailed on our Outback BBQ Grill – the bath was just too good! If you can manage to leave the tub view, fluffy slippers and robe, I heard this place has a great vibe. You can book the Deluxe Spa Room from $380.00 p.n which includes buffet breaky for two!

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VISIT NORTHERN TERRITORY, AUSTRALIA

THE JOURNEY

When called upon to help produce a tourism campaign for the Northern Territory, I had no idea what I was in for. We had two weeks to capture the best of OZ, travelling 1,990 kilometres between Uluru and Darwin. We were not disappointed! I hope the below inspires you to venture where the wild ones live @austoutbacknt – a place you have to see to believe… #letslivelarge

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In preparation for this journey, I took my time in selecting comfortable clothing and footwear created to withstand outback conditions. Field tested and designed specifically for the outdoors, the diverse range of big brands at Wild Earth Australia caught my eye. If you’re backpacking, hiking, travelling or trail running, you’ll appreciate their staff knowledge and enthusiasm in sending you on your way in the best gear possible. www.wildearth.com.au

P1060329

Seriously comfortable waterproof, leather hiking boots by @wildearthaustralia


DAY ONE:

ALICE SPRINGS to ULURU (AYERS) ROCK

Our first glimpse of the Uluru Rock was revealed on the winding road to the Sounds of Silence outback dining experience. The icon appeared to change colour as the sunset, from red to pink to purple.

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Jacket: @wildearthaustralia – The North Face

Here you can enjoy bubbles and canapes on arrival, followed by a feast of kangaroo, chicken, barra, and baked potatoes. I had a light shiraz, admired the stars and enjoyed indigenous entertainment. Investment: $195.00 p.p

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DAY TWO:

FIELD OF LIGHT TOUR

Internationally acclaimed artist, Bruce Munro, thoughtfully placed over 50,000 solar charged lights at the foot of Uluru Rock to create ‘The Field Of Light’ interactive art installation. You can experience this attraction before March 2017 on camel back, at tea time or sunrise. We choose the latter and braved freezing temperatures for a view almost as impressive as the night sky. By sunrise, I managed to capture both the stars and display, using slow shutter mode. That morning I felt like a real photographer, laying in the tumbleweed and dirt to get the shot! I’d definitely recommend wearing plenty of layers for this one: thermals, a beanie, and gloves – the works! Sunrise tour from $89.00 p.p

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PRIVATE SUNSET CAMEL TOUR

Content living on outback time, the upbeat @ulurucameltour team shared some camel facts before our ride:

  1. Camels are one of our major exports due to the abundant population.
  2. The entire animal is useful – aside from the hide, which is an odd shape due to the hump.
  3. The rump is tasty.
  4. Babies pop out the size of a ‘carton on legs’.

Investment: From $129 p.p

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Wearing: @elementeden

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Moving on… It was great to see the rock from another angle and post camel ride you can enjoy complimentary drinks and nibbles in an upbeat environment. While chatting to the staff I learnt, despite rumours, Uluru Rock is in fact free to climb. Rangers do, however, out of respect for indigenous people and for safety reasons, close the World Heritage attraction at every opportunity – wind, weather, temperature. In the past 18 months, 36 climbers fell and we discovered why the next day…

DINNER AT OUTBACK PIONEER

Outback Pioneer is a D.I.Y barbecue. Select your meat or fish: beef, kangaroo, emu, sausages or barra – and cook it yourself on the BBQ – how Aussie! If you’re after a long table, great vibes and live music, this is the place to be.


DAY THREE:

OUTBACK CYCLING AROUND AYERS ROCK

Here you can reach out and touch the heart of Australia. @outback_cycling around the base really puts the size of this icon into perspective. That day blue skies were a bold contrast to the red mountain. Weathered by time, you could see where waterfalls form in the wet season. Bike hire from $45.00 p.p

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Wearing: @elementeden hoodie | @runstopshop tights | @stmbags backpack 

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School student climbed toward the summit as our tour guide shared stories of horror falls. The lack of fencing and 4-hour journey to the hospital was enough of a deterrent for me. I felt very comfortable cycling around the base!


DRIVE TO KINGS CANYON

The picturesque scenery made the 3-hour journey to Kings Canyon fly by. Every time I looked up, I felt as though I’d missed something. We passed Fool-A-Roo Rock, often mistaken as Uluru (Ayers) Rock. Without WI-FI, I took the time to soak in the diverse geography, vegetation, and colour… a rare moment when your life is marketing and photography.

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Kings Canyon glowing in the distance – The great wall of Australia!

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OVERNIGHT AT KINGS CANYON RESORT

@kingscanyonresort was easily my favourite accommodation of the trip! Here you’ll get mooned between 7 and 9pm… On this occasion I bailed on our Outback BBQ Grill dinner reservations – the bath was just too good! If you can manage to leave the tub view, fluffy slippers and robe, I heard this place has a great vibe. You can book the Deluxe Spa Room from $380.00 p.n which includes buffet breaky for two!

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DAY FOUR

RIM WALK KINGS CANYON

Fuel up at buffet breaky, the 3.5-hour hike will test you with a 500 step vertical warm up! Increase difficulty by carrying a drone box, camera equipment, bulk water and food. Fear not, the view gets better at every bend and you’ll be glad for the exercise after hours in the car. Along the way we stumbled upon the “Garden of Eden” (pictured below). This shady oasis is safe for swimming and a great picnic spot.

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Another world awaits you at the top. Standing on the edge overlooking the canyon, I realised discomfort awakens consciousness. Without the hard times, we become complacent and take our blessings for granted. Life is a gift and I’m determined to travel as far as my legs will carry me, for as long as I am able. Investment: Adults $69.00 pp | Children $35.00 pp

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Outfit: @wildearthaustralia ft. The North Face | Backpack: STM Sydney 

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GLEN HELEN HOMESTEAD

On the red dirt road to Glen Helen, it felt like the road trip had officially begun. We bounced in our 4WD, had a near miss with a camel, and admired wild brumbies on the rugged ranges. It was like something out of Natural Geographic. Glen Helen was a simple stop, with a nice view. It was hot and I was looking forward to hot air ballooning in the morning.


BIG 4 MACDONNELL RANGE HOLIDAY PARK

Big 4 Alice Springs is the most awarded tourist park in the Northern Territory with sweeteners including – free pancakes on Sunday, star talks, and live music. Kids will LOVE the pools, slide, jumping pillows, basketball court, BMX track, adventure playgrounds, games room, peddle kart and push bike hire. You can choose from basic to luxury accommodation here. The only downer is rubbish wi-fi connection.


DAY FIVE

HOT AIR BALLOONING ALICE SPRINGS

The hot air balloon is the first successful human-carrying flight technology. For this reason, hot air ballooning had always been on my bucket list. Day five we piled into the basket and effortlessly ascended from the red earth. There was something so calming about the entire experience. The landing was seamless, we jumped out of the basket and held the sides to weigh down the balloon. Not even packing down the 2,800m3 setup could wipe the smile from my face. Prepare for dad jokes, champagne breakfast, fresh fruit, cheese and baked goods post flight! 1 hour Investment: Adults $390.00 | Children: $318.00

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EARTH SANCTUARY BUSH TUCKER TOUR

In Central Australia, Alice Springs, you’ll find the Falzon family – founders of The Earth Sanctuary. Brothers Dan, Ben, and Tommy, share a vision to be Australia’s leading provider of 100% carbon neutral education, tours, and events. If you care about future generations, visit to learn about sustainable technologies, wind and solar energy, water catchment, horticulture and waste management.

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As you drive onto the property you’ll notice unique eco-dome homes, which recently caught the attention of American TV producers.

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http://earth-sanctuary.com.au/


DAY SIX

DESERT PARK

With the help of a head torch, we spotted echidnas and bilbies within minutes at the @desertparkalicesprings Nocturnal Tour. The next day we returned to check out the birds of prey show. With a wingspan of almost 3m, I found the desert eagle most impressive. Aside from getting to know all of the awesome Aussie animals, you can sample bush tucker like passion fruit, beans and tomato raisins. Investment: $32.00 p.p

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OUTLANDERS STEAKHOUSE

Men and women (mostly men) travel far and wide with hopes of breaking the record for devouring the ‘Ringer’s Award’ (2KG rump steak). A ‘Ringer’ is an Australian Cowboy or Stockman. You can imagine these ‘Ringers’ rolling out swags under the stars, dreaming about some real tucker (food), a cold Beer (or three) and a bed mate to share the night with! Well, this is a challenge I didn’t even attempt. The current record is held by local and former butcher Alan Rowe. Think you’ve got what it takes?

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DAY SEVEN

ALICE SPRINGS TO TENNANT CREEK

We went to breakfast opposite the BIG 4 at the ‘Star of Alice’ cafe and I’m calling best breaky of my life! Poached eggs, spinach, cumin potato, coriander, and thyme seasoned salmon steaks to replace bacon and bread! Uhhh, I’d walk across the desert for this breakfast.

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After the best breakfast of my life, we hit the road and despite efforts, I didn’t manage to nap on the 4.5-hour journey to Tennant Creek.


DEVILS MARBLES 

Perhaps it was the midday lighting or the whirlwind stop but these rocks were somewhat underwhelming. I ran about trying to get a creative photo in a rush, emerging from the bush scratched and overheated. I’d recommend early morning or late afternoon viewings for the best photo opportunities.

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Outfit: @kitandace


BATTERY HILL MINING

Although Battery Hill Mining was full of history, it was in my opinion, boring and claustrophobic. Tennant Creek, in general, wasn’t for me, if you stop you’ll see why.


BLUESTONE MOTOR INN TENNANT CREEK

Can you believe it!? 21kms out of town our tyre came off the rim. This unwelcome detour left us with a few extra hours to explore Tennant Creek.


DAY EIGHT

TENNANT CREEK TO DALY WATERS 

After a snack at Elliot (another place to avoid), we finally arrived at historic Daly Waters Pub. Legend has it, a drinking game in the 80s between a coach driver and female passengers began a trend to leave a part of you at the pub. Now, it’s not just bras that line the walls. Leave your mark while you can. Sadly, this insanely Aussie pub is up for sale… From $75 per night.

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DAY NINE

DALY WATERS TO KATHERINE

Hallelujah! After more than a week in the desert, we found somewhere with water – the Katherine Thermal Pools (3 hours from Daly Waters). Beneath tall tropical palms a refreshing watering hole awaits. I’d recommend checking out others in the area also, this one was a bit too popular. Post swim, you can walk to Mataranka Homestead for a great feed.
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 MARKIE’S STOCKMANS CAMP TUCKER SUPPER

I don’t know about you, but a good glass of red and campfire stories is one of my favourite pass times. We checked into Knotts Crossing Resort, then made our way to do just that at Markie’s Stockman Camp Tucker Supper. Pots and pans sizzled. Markie introduced himself and native cooking secrets, as we got stuck into a slow cooked feast. Markie spent years overcoming gender and language barriers, to learn from indigenous women and share their techniques with the world. Investment: $75.00 p.p

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DAY TEN

KATHERINE to KNOTTS CROSSING

Known by the Jawoyn people as the “place of dreaming”, Nitmiluk National Park is home to Katherine Gorge. Deep in the gorge, you can admire the stunning sandstone surrounds you may recognise from past tourism campaigns. Investment: $87.00 p.p

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TOP DIJI

Well, let’s just say, I’d be going hungry if I were left in the bush with only a spear to hunt. After several attempts to improve my spear throwing technique, we made our way to a more relaxing activity – dot painting.

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Mimi Spirits are fairy-like beings of Indigenous tribes. With extremely thin, elongated bodies these spirits are said to have taught Australian Aborigines to hunt, use fire and dance.

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EDITH FALLS

On the way to Pine Creek Railway Resort, we found Edith Falls. If you’re keen to get some shade behind a curtain of water, there’s a hidden ledge beneath a waterfall 500m from shore. This fresh water dip left my entire body and hair looking radiant – just what you need after so much exposure to dry conditions.

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PINE CREEK TO KAKADU

Once again, the vegetation changed on our leg to Kakadu. Dense, tall greenery dwarfed our 4WD, nearly as tall, impressive termite mounts towered toward the sky. The winding road lead us to our flash tents at Cooinda Lodge Kakadu! It was time for some glam-ping (glamourous – camping). After a long day, this king bed nestled amongst the fairy lights was heaven! You can stay at the ultimate Kakadu base too from $160 p.n

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@wildearth boots | @americantourister luggage 


DAY ELEVEN

SUNRISE YELLOW WATER BILLABONG 

Love fishing? Book a 3-hour fishing charter and you’re likely to snag a barramundi or two! For just $20.00, the chefs at Yellow Water Resort will prepare and cook your catch for you. On this tour, we were overwhelmed by the abundance of birds and wildlife lining the banks. Our driver Adam summed this place up perfectly “Good for the soul”. Investment: $150 p.p

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Wearing: @wildearthaustralia | Backpack: STM Sydney


WARRADJAN ABORIGINAL CULTURAL CENTRE 

Enthusiastic traditional hunting methods are still alive among Kakadu locals, these women still hunt and forage for food. I made friends with one of the younger girls, who hadn’t ventured from Kakadu but was fascinated with city living. When I asked about her favourite foods, she said she loves snake eggs for breakfast and that they were much better than chicken eggs! Fancy a snake egg? Easy she said, you just have to find a snake hole. I asked what to do once I find one, and she replied, “Put your hand down and grab the snake”. Oh-my-gosh, she had to be taking the mickey… she knew I wouldn’t – not even for the best-scrambled eggs of my life. In this part of the NT, locals enjoy buffalo, crocodile, turtle and snake meat.

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MAGUK FALLS

On our afternoon off, we took the opportunity to find a swimming hole 20 minutes from the lodge. A bumpy trail lined with termite mounds led to a 2km sandy hike and eventually Maguk Falls.

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Don’t let the danger crocodiles and no swimming signs put you off… At the very top, it is safe to swim. DO NOT swim before the top.

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DAY TWELVE

KAKADU to DARWIN


PURPLE MANGO PARK

Territorians are different to city folk. See it for yourself at Purple Mango Park. Relax with a locally crafted beer on Gay Potter’s porch, as his wife thoughtfully prepares your wood fire pizza. These two have opened their backyard to the public and you can even stay the night in a powered camping site for $35.00 – talk about a “what’s mine is yours” mentality. Oh and obviously the mango smoothies are to die for!

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SPECTACULAR JUMPING CROCS

Well, the name pretty much sums it up. Watching the largest reptile known to man jump high enough to flip a boat is spectacular. CRIKEY is right… With more than 80,000 Saltwater Crocodiles, it’s easy to see why the Northern Territory is sometimes referred to as ‘Croc Country’. That being said, it turns out you won’t generally see these dinosaurs as they lurk beneath the surface or camouflaged by the banks. Formidable and opportunistic, these apex predators can reach 6 metres in length and over a whopping 1,000 kg in weight. If you do see one off tour it may be too late. One last interesting fact: saltwater crocodiles are more likely to be found in freshwater – so unless you’re certain it’s safe do not swim in the NT.

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DARWIN

Driving into Darwin was surprisingly overwhelming. For two weeks I hadn’t seen a fast food outlet, we roamed never-ending remote landscapes, with little signs of civilisation. I had grown to adore the open roads, the absence of convenience stores, television and power poles. That being said, after a long bath and some R&R at the Adina Vibe Hotel I remembered how easy it is to become complacent, lazy and reliant on a luxury lifestyle. Here you can have the works – room service, gym access and a swim in the wave pool.

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DAY THIRTEEN

MINDIL BEACH MARKETS

The tall palm trees and tropical breeze of Mindil Markets took me back to my childhood in Airlie Beach. Hundreds snapped the gorgeous sunset over the ocean.

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DAY FOURTEEN

ARAFURA CHARTERS 

After two weeks on the road I was itching to see the ocean again, so we booked a ½ day Arafura Bluewater Charter. Reef and game fishing enthusiasts queued at the Cullen Bay Ferry Terminal at 5:45am with hopes to hook jewfish, mackerel, tuna, trevally, golden snapper, coral trout, cod and cobia! There was something so special about returning to the salt and sea. As we motored offshore Darwin City skyline became faint in the distance. At our first stop, I caught a small stripy but it was my second catch, a big golden snapper which made me want to stay all day! Ladies, I think you’ll be surprised how much fun fishing is! Investment: $160.00 p.p

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CROCOSAURUS COVE

If you’re a health nut like me, Four Birds Darwin is the place to be. If I had to eat one thing for the rest of my life it would probably be their peanut butter energy balls!

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After a quick bite here, we walked to Crocasarus Cove. Combine Australia’s largest Saltwater Crocodiles and the world’s largest reptile display and you’ve got Crocosaurus Cove – the Sea World of reptiles. @crocosauruscove is probably as close as you’d want to get to crocodiles… You can even dive with them in the famous ‘Cage of Death’. Sounds inviting, doesn’t it? Entry Investment: $35 p.p

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Wearing: Hat @elementeden


1st of JULY FIREWORKS

I guess you could say our trip ended with a bang! The crew was so excited our departure would coincide with Territory Day. Proud Territorians spend $100s (sometimes $1,000s) on fireworks in preparation for the 1st of July, the only day you can get away with letting them off everywhere – and I mean everywhere. This was such an epic way to wrap up the trip of a lifetime.

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I AM SO PROUD TO CALL THIS INCREDIBLE COUNTRY HOME!  Thank you for joining me!

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#SeeAustralia #NTAustralia #dokakadu #nitmiluknt #TourismTopend #Australia 

#wildearth #elementaus #LKIclothing #UNIQLO #RunStopShop #KitandAce


VISIT WHISTLER, B.C

The Journey

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PHOTOGRAPHY & WORDS BY PORTIA LARGE 

As I cleared customs and queued in the narrow aisle of the plane, I knew that my small horizon was bound to broaden. On route to Canadian customs, I was beyond excited to experience snow for the first time in Whistler, British Columbia. #LetsLiveLarge

GOLD COAST > NEW ZEALAND > VANCOUVER

FLY AIR NEW ZEALAND

  • PEAK2PEAK
  • White Christmas
  • Snowmobile
  • Fresh Tracks
  • Cat Ski
  • Heli Ski
  • Northern Lights
  • Whistler Train Wreck
  • Walk on a frozen lake
  • Visit an outdoor spa
  • Ice Caves
  • Ice Skate
  • Bungee Jump
  • Local food and drink


TANDEM BIKE RIDING VANCOUVER:

We had a couple days to kill in Vancouver so Growing up in the tropical Whitsundays Australia, I felt severely unprepared for the cooler climate, despite loading my American Tourister to the brim with thick knits and thermals. When trying our hand at tandem bike riding around Stanley Park Vancouver, I got my first taste of the cooler climate. If sightseeing outdoors is your thing, you can see Vancouver Harbour starting at $6.67 for 3 hours (Tandem: $15.24).

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SOREL Boots available @adventuremegastore


SNOWBOARD SHOPPING:

With one month of snowboarding ahead, our next mission was selecting the perfect equipment. The best deal in town was found at ‘The Boardroom Vancouver’, where I found myself a board, boots and bindings for approximately $700.00 new (that’s less than half the RRP) – Sweeeet deal! If you like to burn money buy your gear in Whistler.

  • Awesome Beginner Board: Skate Banana
  • Rookie Error: Traditional Boot Lace, for learners like me, I’d recommend Dua Boa Lacing which saves time and effort every gondola ride.
  • http://boardroomshop.com/store/

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TRAVEL TO WHISTLER, BRITISH COLUMBIA:

Coach services from Vancouver Central to Whistler take around 2 hours. We went with Pacific Coaches and arrived in a winter wonderland.

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COLUMBIA Jacket available @adventuremegastore



WHILE IN WHISTLER

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GUINNESS BOOK OF RECORDS PEAK TO PEAK GONDOLA:

When you purchase a season pass at Whistler Blackcomb you have full access to Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains, and the gondola which connects the two. I’d recommend riding the Peak to Peak gondola at the beginning of your journey to get your bearings on the world’s longest unsupported lift, 1,427 ft high.

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SNOWMOBILE:

See Whistler’s back-country and the Rocky Mountains at speed with Snowmobile Blackcomb. All you’ll need is a driver’s licence to race around trails, alpine bowls and frozen lakes in small groups (feels like jet skiing on ice). I’d recommend bringing your own goggles and wearing ski / snowboarding apparel.

  • Wilderness Tour Experience Time: Two Hours
  • Investment: $149.00 single rider | $119.00 double rider
  • Other services: Cat ski, Dog sled, ATV, & Snowshoe
  • http://blackcombsnowmobile.com/

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FRESH TRACKS:

Set your alarm and glide through virgin powder like a knife slicing hot butter before the crowds. When booking your fresh tracks experience you’re in for buffet breaky and exclusive access to the best snow conditions.

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CAT SKI:

On a powder day (heavy soft snowfall) in January, our more experienced ski and snowboarders gave catskiing a crack! Unless you’ve a large group of proficient snowboarders you may want to give this experience a miss, at $500.00+ a pop! If you’re planning on joining strangers to push down the price, you might become frustrated with novice riders chewing up your slope time. In our opinion fresh tracks is just as good.


TRAIN WRECK:

If you follow the train tracks south of Function Junction you’ll find a train wreck in 1km. Beware of trains and wear warm clothes.

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GREEN LAKE FROZEN:

  • Best time to visit: Sunset

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ICE CAVE:

There’s a window of opportunity to find these beauties before the snow melts. Ice caves form naturally below 0 °C. You’ll soon find out if claustrophobia (extreme or irrational fear of confined places) applies to you.

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ICE SKATE:

For $5.00 you can skate Whistler Olympic Park. It is harder than it looks… We found a pro and his advice was to keep straight legs and tense your buttocks! Unfortunately, we barely graduated the beginners walking frame but it was fun nonetheless!

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BUNGEE JUMP:

With a New Year’s promise to dive into life and say yes more often, we found ourselves at Whistler Bungee. I’ve skydived twice and bungee jumping is, in my opinion, more thrilling. When your time comes to step off the bridge with nothing to hold onto, it’s all on you.

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@adventuremegastore


SCANDINAVE SPA:

Ancient cultures used spas for therapy and relaxation “Salus per aqua”… “health from water.” To test the theory, we finished our trip at Scandinave Spa. Floating half naked between spas, sauna and steam rooms we admired the stunning surrounds comfortably. S-Spa is a silent, phone and camera free haven fit for celebrities.

  • Bath access (hot springs, sauna, sun and steam rooms): $60.00 pp
  • Ultimate Deep Tissue Massage 90 minutes: $235.00 pp (includes bath access) – Our pick!
  • http://www.scandinave.com/

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(Image: Scandinave.2016)


FITNESS:

Swimming is probably the last thing you’d imagine on a ski trip, but after weeks of Poutine (google it) and Caesars (let me explain below…), you might feel like getting the heart rate up off the slopes. Stretch the muscles and relax in the pool or group fitness class.

  • Investment: $8.50 for pool access / $2.00 on Tuesdays!
  • https://www.whistler.ca/culture-recreation/recreation/meadow-park-sports-centre

 EAT & DRINK:

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  • Best Value: All ‘El Furniture’, feeds are $5.00 (surprisingly great portions)! This place is always packed and for good reason.
  • Filler Between Lunch & Dinner: ‘Crystal Lounge’, $3.00 chicken wings are a popular menu request.
  • Best Seafood: ‘La Bocca’ favourites include: Seared Salmon and Cioppino (Flavoursome seafood broth).
  • Best Vegan & Vegetarian: ‘Naked Sprout’ have the best flu shots (lifesaver), hummus wraps, chilli and coconut soups. Otherwise, you’ll find ‘Raven’s Nest’ tucked away at the base of Red Chair on Whistler Mountain, with only non-vegan menu items. Other options include: ‘The Green Moustache’ and ‘The Simple Spoon’.
  • Best Live Entertainment: At ‘Garibaldi Lift Co. Bar & Grill’, you can watch the WB Fire & Ice Show on Sunday’s.
  • Best New Years Spot: Cosy ‘Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub’ overlooks the foot of the mountain and has THE best fireplace for a big group.
  • Local Cocktail: The basic formula for a ‘Caesar’ is pretty straightforward: clamato, worcestershire, tabasco, spices, celery salt, pepper, vodka and most importantly some serious garnish. Typical toppings: celery, olives, pickled chilli, bacon/salmon jerky and if you are lucky, deep fried chicken. Clam juice is the most crucial element, adding a more robust flavour than its American cousin – the Bloody Mary. You won’t be disappointed!
  • Best Après: You’re bound to see a familiar face at ‘Longhorns’. Enjoy the vibe and bump into friends who ski in.

Thank you for visiting www.letslivelarge.com.au … next stop Samoa! 

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@adventuremegastore

SYDNEY SKY DIVE

PHOTOGRAPHY & WORDS BY PORTIA LARGE 

#GIVEADRENALIN

You’re not going to believe it… Last week I flew for the first time, or fell, but it felt like flying! Imagine an eagle floating effortlessly in an updraft, defying gravity as he circles the earth… That was me! But without the wings, far less graceful and with a fully grown man strapped to my back. FINALLY, I can tick “Skydiving” off my bucket list.

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It’s a strange feeling, freefalling with nothing but clouds between you and the earth. Without an escape button, safety blanket or anything to hold on to you feel pretty vulnerable. It was so surreal, watching people get sucked out of the (perfectly good) plane one by one. Finally it was my turn to shuffle toward the door and dive into life headfirst. I hoped for the best… AND The rest is history – you HAVE to try it for yourself!

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Christmas came early for me this year and thanks to Adrenalin.com.au you can give your loved ones the same rush!.. Adrenalin gift vouchers are not only impossible to guess when wrapped, they are undoubtedly better than another pair of underwear or a bath bomb – sorry mum! Choose from V8 Racing, Jet boating, Sydney Bridge Climbing, Hot Air Ballooning, Abseiling, Scuba Diving and Skydiving… #LetsLiveLarge visit www.adrenalin.com.au/ and #GiveAdrenalin!

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Pictured: Portia Large & best friend Sjana Elise Earp post Sydney Skydive

TREASURE ISLAND

If you’re in need of a holiday your next getaway may be closer than you think. Bathed in warm sunshine and cool breeze, the Ocean Road TV crew skimmed by the Gold Coast Broadwater and the million dollar mansions of Sovereign Island before reaching our filming destination at Couran Cove. Although we were just minutes from the hustle and bustle of the Gold Coast’s Surfers Paradise, we felt a million miles away in the peaceful seclusion of Stradbroke Island. Native wildlife, heritage listed rainforest, amazing surf breaks and Australian architecture are combined harmoniously to create the perfect getaway for a broad audience. Upon arrival we were met with many friendly staff of the island who seated us at a table overlooking the marina. An acai and muesli combo was my pick on the menu for breakfast that morning, aware the day was bound to be action packed. Energetic resort CEO John Muntz, offered to give us a full island tour once our food settled. As we explored we soon learnt that this place is eco friendly, with many sustainability measures put in place to minimize their environmental footprint – We are a fan! After a stroll through the rainforest we found stark contrast in the environment once we reached the beach on the East side of the island. Perfect A-frame waves rolled in, and I felt frustrated that I was without a board and “working” on such a day. In order to unwind further, we stopped by at the Day Spa before indulging in a 6 course Degustation lunch. Helicopter and speedboat rides were the afternoon highlights just when I thought our day couldn’t get better. You’ll have to see the footage for yourself to understand how special this place is…

Visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIu1lTiPHsg

MUST SEE BALI

With high hopes to see the best of Bali in a short time frame, my sister Bianca and I decided to hire a taxi driver for the day. Our drivers name was Gede (Pronounced G’day an easy to remember Aussie greeting), but we affectionately referred to our new friend as ‘Wildcat’ for his contagious positivity and Cheshire cat smile. Nothing was a problem for Wildcat. We believe we found a rare companion in our driver as he was a confident, knowledgeable speaker, fluent in English, Japanese and Indonesian. Wildcat’s services cost 600,000 rupiah (approximately $60AU), which covered the use of a 4WD (to fit my surfboard), fuel, our own personal photographer and tour guide. That day we traveled an impressive distance visiting many well-known attractions including sacred temples, Ubud (adored by many yogis), Gitgit Waterfall, Hot Springs, Mt. Agung, and Lavina Dolphin Hotel (I’ll tell you later why this last activity was not a highlight after all). If you’re time poor on your trip definitely consider a driver service for the day!

As a gift to our friend Wildcat – here is his number HP: 6281 338 705 424 – if you ever need an amazing driver to look after you.

GITGIT WATERFALL

Gitgit Waterfall is one of the famous tourist destinations in North Bali which is located in Gitgit countryside, in the Sukasada sub district about 70 Km from Denpasar Airport. Earlier that week I sighted the waterfall on a girlfriends Instagram and was determined to see it for myself. To my delight it was even better than expected. It cost 20,000 rupiah ($2.00AU) to view the natural attraction. You’ll be in awe at the sheer size of the falls and the incredible energy which vibrates through the lush valley.

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HOT SPRINGS

Banjar Hot Springs, locally referred to as ‘Air Panas Banjar’, are located approximately 5km southwest from the Lovina coast in North Bali. It was a hot, muggy July day in tropical Bali when we saw the Holy Hot Springs! Perhaps a bit too warm for the Holy Hot Springs, but regardless it was interesting to see this attraction. I’d recommend visiting this place in winter!

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MT. AGUNG

It was confronting to step out into the crisp air of Mt. Agung’s altitude. That same day  we had enjoyed the warm tropical weather elsewhere are were not dressed appropriately for the cooler climate – take a jumper! Next time I’d love to hike the mountain in the wee hours of the morning to catch a glimpse from the top at sunrise. One of my friends said she enjoyed the experience, but I was shocked to learn she watched as locals retrieved the body of a European tourist who had fallen into the center of the volcano 2 days prior. If that doesn’t get your heart racing, I’m not sure what will…

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Melka Excelsior Dolphin Hotel

Most girls would agree that at some point in their childhood they have dreamt of swimming with dolphins. Well on this day I was able to do just that… and at first I was beyond excited. When I heard that there was an opportunity to swim with dolphins I had envisaged wild dolphins lapping the shores freely at feeding time, but what I found was very disturbing. Melka Excelsior Hotel Resort is the first hotel in the world with dolphins in their pools for swimming and hopefully the last. At reception we were told the experience cost 150,000 rupiah (or $150.00AU) for 15 minutes in the water. We said that we wanted to see the dolphins before paying for the animal encounter as we were unsure of the experience conditions. Begrudgingly, staff escorted us through the resort to a tiny salt water swimming pool where one lonely, lifeless dolphin was trapped. The intelligent creature struggled to acknowledge our presence and genuinely looked distressed. The murky lime green water appeared unhygienic for swimming let alone to house such a stunning animal. I felt sick being there, and refuse to support such unhealthy animal captivity. Anyone who visits such a hotel is encouraging such sad exploitation.

ACTIVE ESCAPES

With trips booked out in minutes and countless repeat guests, Active Escapes fitness retreats continue to exceed expectations. Melbourne based founder, Zanna Conlan is spreading his vision of a network of exciting retreat locations across the world, and in doing so is firmly establishing Active Escapes as an industry leader. Last month, I boarded a plane to Bali to see for myself what Active Escapes had to offer and I have to say they more than lived up to the hype.

Bali is the original Active Escapes destination, and it is not hard to see why. With lush landscapes, world class surf breaks and rich culture, the famed ‘Island of the Gods’ is the perfect playground for the self-confessed fitness fanatic. Luxury villas and accommodating staff will make this resort become your home away from home, showcasing the very best hospitality beautiful Bali has to offer.

Whether you bring your own friends, or make new ones along the way, by the end of your stay you will find you have made bonds that last. Despite the many different walks of life Active Escape’s guest come from, you find yourself united and connected as you grow and reach your goals, in a truly unique experience of a lifetime.

Relaxation, new experiences and enjoyment are common holiday hopes; however I’ll let you in on a little secret, you don’t have to sit by the pool all day and gorge on naughty treats to get the most out of your break. Active Escapes allows you to fulfil all your holiday hopes and much more, and it is all about overindulging yourself on the actual good stuff. Swap cocktails for exercise endorphins, blurry benders for crystal clear scenery, and greasy guilt foods for delicious and nutritious meals. Active Escapes is sure to satisfy your senses and sends you away with the souvenir of your dreams, a rejuvenated and reinvigorated you.

All retreat activities are optional and guests are able choose their participation levels, trainers then tailor work out sessions to meet individual needs. Surfing, high ropes, blissful yoga sessions and the stair challenge were among the week’s highlights. Every morning I chose to explore local surf spots with coach Zanna.

Additional activities include horse riding, golf, cooking classes inspired by local cuisine, and Aquatonic Seawater pool experiences. In my opinion the key to a fantastic trip is balance. The beauty of Active Escapes is that the planning and preparation is taken care of, so all you have to focus on is your own mind, body and spirit.