Australian State Parks: Free entry on Australia Day

australian state parksIt’s not Hamilton Island, and you’re not getting paid to stay there, but at least they’re not charging you.

National parks throughout NSW will waive entry fees on January 26 to celebrate Australia Day. Premier Nathan Rees said Australia Day was a perfect time to appreciate the nation’s natural beauty.

“Our native bush is an important symbol of what it means to be Australian,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

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How to get around luggage allowances

One of the toughest problems with flying these days are the limits airlines are now putting on their passengers and the amount of luggage one can bring with them on the plane. Often just one piece of checked luggage is allowed for domestic flights (unless you’re flying in Business class), and two for international. Kind of makes you want to go out and buy the largest size suitcase allowed, and fill it to the brim. In case you’re wondering, it varies from destination to destination, but to and from the US, it’s generally 32kg (70lbs) with the total dimensions of the 2 pieces not exceed 270cm (106in).

While there’s generally not a way around the limitations that airlines put on you, as a traveller, we’ve got a few tips that might help you maximise the space you have.

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Island Caretaker wanted!

As the rest of us get up at 6am to start our slow and arduous journey to the office today, one lucky individual will have what will end being the best job in the world.

Queensland, Australia tourism is hurting. Despite having some of the most amazingly beautiful terrain and tourist destinations in the world, the world’s financial crisis is really hitting the area hard. With hotel bookings down sharply, Queensland’s tourism board is taking it upon themselves to fix the problem:

They’re giving job seekers the chance to get paid $150,000 (AU$) to live six months rent free on the Great Barrier Reef. (Good luck getting onto the site. Apparently this sounds appealing to the entire world.)

The successful candidate will be asked to keep a blog and photo diary in exchange for six months rent-free on Hamilton Island as part of a $150,000 salary package that includes return airfares and travel insurance.

Australians and overseas applicants must be willing to “swim, snorkel, make friends with locals and generally enjoy the tropical Queensland climate and lifestyle”. Sounds really hard, doesn’t it? Tough life. They’re pretty much asking the successfull applicant to do what many of us are doing already: blog, photograph, and enjoy the world around us.

Pretty tough, huh?

Travel America. With kids!

I credit a lot of my “worldlyness” (is that a word?) to traveling with my family every summer as a kid. There is so much to see throughout the United States. But what do kids really want to see?

So many kids these days would rather sit in front of the TV and play Playstation or watch a movie. Fortunately for them, portable DVD players/TV’s are readily available, and at a very reasonable price too! Hooking these up in the car for a summer family roadtrip (something I look back on now and cherish) is now very easy, and will keep the kids entertained for hours in the car, between the destinations you’re headed for.

Young Stefan & ErickI can recall one summer in particular growing up where, after spending a few weeks with my Uncle on Vancouver Island (at the K.O.A. Kampground on the Malahat), my parents and brother and I drove 1/2 way across Canada, through Banff National Park, and down through the Grand Tetons, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, Bryce and Zion in Utah, and the Grand Canyon in Arizona before making it back to San Diego. If you’re looking to stay within the National Parks, here’s a great site that has information historic and easy accommodation in or nearby many of the National Parks in America.

Like virtually every other kid out there, my brother and I had a bit of extra energy to burn off. Ok, so maybe that’s an understatement, but especially after spending hours in the car between destinations, we were already ready to explore and undertake hikes at a moments notice. These hikes, and getting of the beaten path, were really the best ways to see the National Parks of America, and the very best way for our parents to keep us on the edge of exhaustion (which, I’m sure, made the trip a bit more bearable for them)

Really, it’s not that hard to travel with kids. They’re very simple creatures! (Of course, I say this now, after tormenting my parents for YEARS!) While I’m sure it varies from kid to kid, the hikes, the reward trips to our favourite fast food joints, and the occasional gift for being well behaved kept us pretty much inline (oh, and for boys, the ability to stomp, break, poke, and to all in all explore along the way helps too) for the trip.

It took us a few weeks to cover all this ground, but was well worth it. As kids, my brother and I learned a lot. So did our parents. But that was more about my brother and I. Now, at 30 years of age, I look forward to doing this with my kids. Whenever that may be.

The Sydney Opera House at Night

sydney opera house at night

Who’s to say you need a good camera to take nice photos. On a beautifully warm night in The Rocks, I took this shot with a point and shoot camera (Canon A520) while bracing myself against wooden pier.