The Old Melbourne Crime and Justice Experience wins the heritage and cultural tourism at Australian Awards

Step back in time and walk the road to the gallows in a 19th century prison, be arrested in a modern-day Police Station or put yourself on trial in court.

Home to our oldest prison, historic Magistrates’ Court and former Police City Watch House, Russell Street has been at the heart of crime, law and order in Melbourne since the 1840s.

Most of Australia’s infamous characters, including iconic bushranger, Ned Kelly and notorious gangster Squizzy Taylor have spent time within the walls of this amazing precinct.

The National Trust of Victoria’s Old Melbourne Gaol Crime & Justice Experience won the Heritage and Cultural Tourism Award at the Australian Tourism awards announced in Feb 2010.

This iconic landmark is the site where 135 people, including infamous bushranger Ned Kelly, were hanged. The prison was also a focus during some of Australia’s most significant historical moments, including the Gold Rush and World War II.

The bushrangers, murderers, baby farmers and gangsters kept here lived alongside petty offenders, including lunatics, vagrants and bankrupts. Experience what life behind bars was like for some of our most notorious villains – learn about their life and crimes, their trials and treatment. Step into the shoes of a hangman…

377, Russell Street (between La Trobe and Victoria Sts) Melbourne 3000

General Enquiries: (03) 8663 7228

Group Bookings: (03) 8663 7223

Old Melbourne Gaol Crime & Justice Experience Website

$1.7 million commitment for Launceston tramways heritage tourism hub proposal

Boost for Unique Local Tourism Opportunity

Kim Booth MP

The Tasmanian Greens today (Saturday, 13th February 2010) released their $1.7 million support package, Putting the Launceston Trams back on Track for the Launceston Tram Inveresk Heritage Tourism Hub proposal, which has been developed by the Launceston Tramway Museum Society.

Greens Member for Bass, Kim Booth MP, who was joined by Greens Leader Nick McKim MP to launch the commitment at Festivale in Launceston, said that the historic tram project was an exciting opportunity to create a unique northern Tasmanian heritage tourism attraction that would also boost other local businesses.

“Putting our local Launceston heritage trams back on track at the original Inveresk tramshed is a great and exciting opportunity,” Mr Booth said.

“The Greens are ready to deliver the necessary funds to get Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the Heritage Tourism Hub proposal up and running, which is the main assistance being requested by the Management Committee.”

The Greens’ $1.7 million support package for Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the Heritage Transport Hub includes:

  • $1,220,000 for Stage 1Launceston’s proposed new Heritage Transport Hub, and Museum extension at Inveresk
  • $200,000 for overhead power to be provided to the Inveresk tram track
  • $280,000 over four years to employ a Project Manager

“This nationally significant collection will value-add to the historic Inveresk site and will assist it to develop into an iconic large scale heritage attraction. Tourism sites that offer such a unique and genuine experience on this scale become the engine drivers of local economies, and that is the potential of this proposal.

“This is a positive plan for local tourism, local jobs and local businesses.”

“This diligent group of people had the vision and the tenacity to undertake such a labor of love collecting and restoring Launceston’s historical municipal trams.  Their vision could now provide a genuine and enduring asset for Launceston and the broader northern region with the project having an identified capacity to attract between 10,000 and 30,000 visitors each year.”

“The Greens are ready to get behind this exciting tourism and heritage proposal and deliver for the broader community,” Mr Booth said.

Mr Booth paid tribute to the years of hard work undertaken by the Launceston Tramway Museum Society and its Management Committee to build up their heritage tramway collection and develop such a comprehensive business case for the proposed Heritage Transport Hub.

Bundaberg Hatches Best Ever Turtle Season

Central Queensland’s Mon Repos beach has hatched the best turtle laying season in 30 years and it’s not too late to experience this natural wonder.

Around 400 endangered Loggerhead turtles have visited the coastline this season to nest at the largest rookery in the South Pacific Ocean.

Every year from November to March, Mon Repos near Bundaberg usually welcomes back around 200 to 300 nesting turtles and their hatchlings but this season has seen a dramatic increase in turtle numbers due to the ongoing conservation efforts of Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangers.

To manage impacts on threatened loggerhead turtles, turtle exclusion devices are now installed in fishing trawlers plus the establishment of marine parks and go slow zones for boats all help ensure the Mon Repos turtle experience remains one of the best nature experiences in Australia.

Loggerhead turtles generally don’t breed until the age of 30 but management practices since 1968 are helping these endangered species live a longer life so they can keep laying until they are around 60 years.

With some turtles coming from as far as The Gulf of Carpentaria and New Caledonia, Mon Repos has the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the eastern Australian mainland and the largest Loggerhead turtle rockery in the South Pacific Ocean.

Access to Mon Repos beach is restricted from 6pm during the turtle season so the best way to see these endangered animals up close in on a nightly guided tour from the Mon Repos Visitors Centre.

Spots are still available on February and March weekend and weeknight tours so there’s still plenty of time to visit Bundaberg and watch these tiny hatchlings embark on life’s journey, heading for the surf and survival. Otherwise book early for next season which is shaping up to be even bigger.

Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village Warrnambool

Flagstaff Hill overlooks Lady Bay at Warrnambool Victoria. The grounds has two small lighthouses which still guide ships into the bay. The upper lighthouse is open for inspection and contains a small but beautiful Chance Bros. lens.

Flagstaff Hill is an interactive Maritime Village and Museum that takes visitors on a rich journey of discovery through an early Australian coastal fishing port.

Built around the State Heritage listed Lady Bay Lighthouse precinct, overlooking Lady Bay Warrnambool, Flagstaff Hill holds the richest collection of Shipwreck artefacts in Australia.

Scattered throughout the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village are a range of trades that supported the rich maritime heritage of the late 1800’s.

Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village provides visitors and researchers with a variety of different ways to source information relating to the history of Warrnambool, the Great Ocean Road, and of course relating to the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Villlage and the maritime history of the rugged Shipwreck Coast.

Comfort Inn Central Court Warrnambool offers a variety of accommodation options whether for a single individual or a large family. In the heart of the city, only 50 metres from the main cafe and shopping strip. Licensed restaurant onsite with quality service in a friendly country atmosphere. Heated swimming pool and garden area on first floor. The property is only a short drive to the historic Shipwreck Coast.

Annual Scottish Highland Gathering: Brigadoon

Australia’s premier Scottish Gathering – Brigadoon – will again weave its magic on April 17 2010, at Bundanoon in the Southern Highlands of NSW.

Be prepared to have your blood stirred and spine tingled as the mist rolls back to the skirl of bagpipes and the village becomes Brigadoon for the day.

This year, Highlander, one of the finest Scottish Celtic Rock Bands in the world, is bringing its unique sound to the gathering. This five piece group has a unique sound which has been wowing audiences of all ages with their electrifying high-energy music.

The powerful sound of the bagpipes, matched with dynamic sound of the fiddle, and electric and acoustic guitars, compliment the powerhouse bass grooves, pulsating percussion, and vocal harmonies.

Highlander, while keeping traditional music in its repertoire, has also added its own flavour to  the reels, jigs, and songs of Scotland. However, they are most outstanding when they perform their original compositions which are rich in melody and message.

Highlander has appeared at events such as Scotland in Concert (Jakarta Indonesia),  Tamworth Country Music Festival, The Australian Celtic Festival, Kilmore Celtic Festival, Toukley Gathering of the Clans, Nelson Bay Clans on the Coast,  and many clubs, hotels, private and corporate functions. They always provide a show that is dynamic and entertaining.

It is impossible not to be caught up in the energy Highlander brings to every show. They are an act guaranteed to have audiences dancing in the oval aisles!!

The Scottish Gatering at Brigadoon highlights include:
Scottish Country Dancing
Street Parade
25 Pipe Bands performing later in the arena throughout the day
Traditional (and not so traditional) Highlands Games – caber toss, throwing the haggis, shot put, water toss, egg toss, Fergie stones
Display of medieval duelling and combat
‘Bonnie Bairns’ Highland Dress Competition
and much more

Australia’s red centre

Encompassing the World Heritage-listed red rock monolith of Uluru and the mysterious shapes of Kata Tjuta and Uluru, the traditional custodians of this land, the Anangu, believe this Central Australian landscape was created at the beginning of time by their ancestors. The Anangu have been protecting these sacred lands for thousands of generations since.

Not only is the Red Centre steeped in human history; it contains distinctive desert fauna and many rare species of mammals, birds, and reptiles – a distinction that has earned it a place on Australia’s list of National Landscapes.

The pioneering town of Alice Springs is a great base from which to explore the Red Centre.  The town was originally called Stuart, however, the locals called it Alice Springs in honour of the wife of Charles Todd who supervised the building of Australia’s first overland telegraph line from Adelaide to Darwin.

The history of ‘The Alice’, as it is affectionately known, is populated by a colourful cast of characters that include gold-diggers, outback pioneers and Afghan cameleers.

Wander through Alice Springs and visit the numerous Indigenous art galleries – excellent places to pick up an authentic piece of unique Aboriginal art. Alice Springs is a good base from which to take to the skies on a sunrise hot-air balloon ride or scenic flight. For a taste of a romantic bygone era, join the 1500 kilometre train journey from Alice Springs to Darwin aboard The Ghan.

To the east and west of Alice Springs are the MacDonnell Ranges. This jagged and rocky spine stretches for hundreds of kilometres, harbouring gorges and permanent rock pools carved by prehistoric rivers. The traditional owners of this area, the Arrernte people, believe giant caterpillars called the Yeperenye became the MacDonnell Ranges – entering this world through one of the dramatic gaps in the escarpment.

The Larapinta Trail walking track extends more than 220 kilometres along the West MacDonnell Ranges, crossing steep ranges and deep chasms. Its changing perspectives are a humbling reminder of being a mere dot in space and time.

A 445km drive ‘down the track’ from Alice Springs on the Stuart Highway brings visitors to  Uluru – the largest monolith in the world. Almost 10km around and 600 million years old, this sandstone wonder is truly a magnificent sight.

The Anangu do not climb Uluru because of its great spiritual significance and they ask that others respect their law and culture by not climbing it.

A better way to experience Uluru is to see it at sunrise or sunset. The colours shift constantly, from pink to blood red to mauve. Each time you turn around there’s a different hue.

Other activities at Uluru include star-gazing and Harley-Davidson motorcycle tours. You can learn about Tjukurpa, the traditional law guiding the Anangu people, at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre or you can follow in the footsteps of the ancestral beings and learn about sacred sites and bush tucker from an Aboriginal guide.

A nearby rock formation, Kata Tjuta (‘many heads’) offers an equally magic experience. This maze of 500 million year-old massive sandstone domes makes a very special early morning or late afternoon excursion.

Park rangers offer guided walks through the Valley of the Winds and Olga Gorge. Like Uluru, the towering sentinels of Kata Tjuta move through their own spectacular colour spectrum and show a different aspect from every angle.

At the Ayers Rock Resort, visitors can enjoy the Sounds of Silence experience. This unique outdoor dining experience takes place under a canopy of stars, with your very own storyteller who shares the tales from the night sky above.

A few hundred kilometres north-east of Uluru is the Watarrka National Park, best known as the home of Kings Canyon. The pale orange walls of the sandstone canyon were shaped thousands of years ago.

You can do the one-hour Creek Walk or the four-hour Canyon Walk at Kings Canyon. Waterholes such as the lush Garden of Eden, deep in the gorge, are perfect for a swim to escape the heat of the day. If you’re feeling adventurous, try your hand at becoming a jackaroo or jillaroo at Kings Creek Station, a 1,800 square kilometre cattle station near the park.

Both the World Heritage-listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta and Watarrka National Parks have a remarkable geological history. Five hundred million years ago, the entire area was covered by an inland sea. Over many centuries, a spectacular environment of inland lakes and tropical woodlands evolved. Cycad ferns dating back to the time of the dinosaurs thrive here, and its rock holes and gorges provide refuge for more than 600 species of plants and native animals. The Red Centre Way is a magnificent outback drive that links the national parks and many of the heartlands natural wonders.

To the east and west of Alice Springs are the MacDonnell Ranges. This jagged and rocky spine stretches for hundreds of kilometres, harbouring gorges and permanent rock pools carved by prehistoric rivers. The traditional owners of this area, the Arrernte people, believe giant caterpillars called the Yeperenye became the MacDonnell Ranges – entering this world through one of the dramatic gaps in the escarpment.

The Larapinta Trail walking track extends more than 220 kilometres along the West MacDonnell Ranges, crossing steep ranges and deep chasms. Its changing perspectives are a humbling reminder of being a mere dot in space and time.

From the early 1900s, fortune-seekers searched the Central Australia desert for rubies and gold, but treasures of a different kind exist in this ancient natural landscape: you just have to know where to look.

Alice Spring Accommodation

Up close and personal with Australian wildlife

Nature was inspired when it created Australia. There are animals you’ll see nowhere else and plants that will amaze you. Australia is one of the most diverse countries on the planet, home to more than one million species of plants and animals, many of which are found nowhere else in the world.

Among the most well known of these are the koala, the wombat, the kangaroo, the laughing kookaburra, and the egg-laying platypus – a creature so odd-looking that sceptical European scientists thought it was several different animals sewn together.

Some of Australia’s unique animals and birds are easy to spot, even in the major capital cities. It’s not unusual to see a possum climbing up a city lamp post in the evening, or giant fruit bats taking off from their roosts in city parks. Pelicans, sacred ibis, colourful parrots, and cockatoos look right at home too.    

Within easy distance of every city are several national parks and wildlife reserves. This isn’t surprising when you consider that Australia boasts 516 national parks, 145 marine parks, 2,700 designated conservation areas, and 33 Indigenous Protected Areas. There are also 15 natural World Heritage Sites, ranging from the Great Barrier Reef to the Tasmanian Wilderness.

One of the most iconic Australian animals is the kangaroo. There are 63 species of kangaroo in Australia including different kinds of wallabies, tree-kangaroos, wallaroos, pademelons and the quokka – a cat-size marsupial that lives on some of the smaller islands off the coast of Western Australia.

While some of these animals are rare or elusive, others are quite common. It’s not unusual to see lots of powerful red kangaroos bounding besides your car as you travel through Australia’s Outback. You can often easily see big grey kangaroos in native grassland beside the road too.

In some places such as Booderee National Park, south of Sydney – they wander right up to you. While at Pebbly Beach, between Ulladulla and Batemans Bay on the New South Wales south coast, kangaroos graze on the grass edging the pristine beach and casually hop among the picnic rugs. 

One of the best places in Australia to see a large range of animals and birds up close is Kangaroo Island, in South Australia. While kangaroos may have given the island its name, in the space of one day, you can easily spot koalas, wallabies, goannas, echidnas, brush-tailed possums, and platypus. You can quickly tick off dozens of the 270 species of bird found here, including perhaps the rare glossy black cockatoo.

Other Kangaroo Island highlights include watching fairy penguins waddling home after a day out at sea, taking a swim with the Island’s resident pods of dolphins, and walking beside hundreds of rare Australian sealions as they laze on the sand.

While Kangaroo Island is the perfect spot for observing koalas in the wild, you might want to spare a thought for those that end up needing a caring hand. The Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie is the world’s first hospital dedicated solely to the care and preservation of koalas.

Then there’s Phillip Island in Victoria, home to the Koala Conservation Centre. This was set up for research and breeding purposes, and you can get quite close to these cuddly creatures. Phillip Island is also world famous for its Penguin Parade.

Another great place to spot koalas in the wild is beside the Great Ocean Road, one of the most spectacular scenic drives in Australia. You can also see koalas in their natural habitat around Port Stephens, north of Sydney too.

Beautiful Port Stephens is also home to resident pods of dolphins, and several companies operate dolphin-watching tours and whale-watching tours.
The most prolific whales in our waters are the southern right whale and the humpback whale. These pass along the western, southern and eastern coastlines during their annual migration. Some of the most popular whale watching spots include Hervey Bay in Queensland, Warrnambool in south-western Victoria, Victor Harbour in South Australia, and Byron Bay, Eden, and Narooma in New South Wales.

From June to November you can see plenty of humpback whales migrating northwards along the Western Australian coastline to shelter in Camden Sound on the Kimberley coast. They also congregate off Broome, where the females give birth. In September you could head to Dunsborough to see blue whales and their calves in the calm waters of Geographe Bay.

Between early April and early July each year marine adventurers can try snorkelling with the world’s largest fish – the whale shark. Ningaloo Reef, on Western Australia’s Coral Coast, is one of only a few places in the world where this is possible.

Wild dolphins are common right along the Australian coast, and there are plenty of opportunities to swim with them at Port Phillip Bay in Victoria, Baird Bay on the South Australian coast, Port Stephens and Huskisson in New South Wales and at Rockingham near Perth.

One of the most famous dolphin habitats is Monkey Mia on the shores of World Heritage-listed Shark Bay, in Western Australia. The wild bottlenose dolphins around here have been swimming around the ankles of tourists every day for the past forty years.

If crocodiles are more your scene then head up to the Northern Territory to search for saltwater crocodiles in Kakadu National Park. Kakadu’s many habitats, which include lily-spotted wetlands and vast plains, support more than 280 species of birds, or about one-third of Australia’s bird species.

The most iconic of all Australia’s wildlife sanctuaries though is the Great Barrier Reef. Go snorkelling or diving in the tropical, clear waters and you’ll find yourself immersed in an environment shimmering of dazzling fish, colourful corals and sponges, dugongs, and green turtles.

Meanwhile, to get close to endangered Tasmanian Devils, make your way to Devils @ Cradle. At this sanctuary and breeding centre at Cradle Mountain, in north-west Tasmania, you can get up close to plenty of these noisy marsupial carnivores.

Australian National Aviation Museum

Located at Moorabbin Airport near Melbourne Victoria. The Australian National Aviation Museum contains the finest collection of Australian made and designed aircraft, as well as the broadest collection, with representative types covering the development of airtravel and military aviation in Australia, along with display engines from the flying machines of 1910 to the modern jet fighters.

Representative aircraft from the RAAF and RAN, WW2 through to the jet age, pre-war, post war and jet-turbine airliners from Ansett-ANA, TAA and others, Australian made by CAC, DAP, HDH, and Victa, vintage and classic civilian aircraft from the 1920’s “Moth” through to a London to Sydney air-racer, and cropduster.

The Museum provides for disabled visitors via ramp access, with disabled toilets available onsite.

Museum open times:
Wed – Friday 12-4pm
Sat – Sun (& public holidays 10am-5pm)
Ph:  (61 3)  9580 7752