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
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
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.
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
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
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…
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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
Outfit: @wildearthaustralia ft. The North Face | Backpack: STM Sydney
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!
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
Whistler Train Wreck
Walk on a frozen lake
Visit an outdoor spa
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
Open DEC – MARCH
Wake up call: 6:00am
Investment: $19.95 per adult (Additional to WB pass)
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.
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.
GREEN LAKE FROZEN:
Best time to visit: Sunset
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.
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!
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.
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
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
Pictured: Portia Large & best friend Sjana Elise Earp post Sydney Skydive
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…
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 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.
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!
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…
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.
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.