Fish & Frolic in Coffs Harbour

ID-100141014 By criminalatt sea bass
Free image courtesy of criminalatt/

In Australia, the No.1 recreational activity is fishing, with more people choosing to participate in this pastime than engaging in any other hobby or spot. And due to its popularity, many families choose to holiday at places around the country that provide optimum conditions for fishing. Often better known for its tourist attractions (like the Big Banana) and great beaches, Coffs Harbour is actually one of the best places to fish in Australia. Enthusiasts can catch a variety of fish species all in the local area — something not found in most fishing havens. Apart from offering world-class fishing spots, the Coffs Coast is also the perfect place to enjoy swimming, snorkelling, diving, sightseeing, shopping, kayaking and more. If you’re ready to visit this holiday hot spot, then book a hotel in Coffs Harbour and read on for three of the best areas for fishing and frolicking.

Solitary Islands Marine Park

In New South Wales, the Solitary Islands Marine Park is the largest marine protected area in the state. Extending around 75 kilometres along the Coffs Coast, this group of islands is popular with fishing enthusiasts who love to get offshore for deep-sea fishing. While the area has zones where fishing is not allowed, in the regions where you can dangle a line you’re likely to catch an array of species such as snapper, pearl perch, Spanish mackerel, jewfish, amberjack, kingfish and more. Visitors to the Solitary Islands Marine Park can also enjoy scuba diving and snorkelling in the waters, and are sure to be impressed by the area’s 550 species of fish, 90 varieties of coral and 600 types of molluscs. The region is home to various turtle species, and hosts humpback whales during the autumn and winter months. While in the area, you may also be interested in visiting Southern Cross University’s National Marine Science Centre that is adjacent to the Marine Park. The centre is suitable for all ages and is home to the Solitary Islands Aquarium, and has guided tours and visual displays.


A small community in the Coffs Coast region, Repton is approximately a 20-minute drive away from Coffs Harbour. It’s popular with both locals and tourists who enjoy freshwater fishing. The region boasts clean rivers and lakes, and is ideal for anglers who want to try their hand at fly fishing, salmon or trout fishing. The two most popular fishing spots nearby Repton are the Repton Rail Bridge and Repton Hole. They both provide deeper-water fishing where tourists are likely to catch mangrove jack, school jewfish, flathead, mulloway, trevally, perch and stud bream. While visiting Repton, travellers can also enjoy boating, swimming, relaxing picnics along the river, canoeing and horse riding. Repton is adjacent to Bongil Bongil National Park, so hikers and bird-watching enthusiasts are well-catered to. If food and wine are more your scene, then head to nearby Raleigh Vineyard and Winery to sample local cheeses and wines; if you prefer to get the adrenaline pumping, then don’t miss a visit to the Raleigh Raceway.

Boambee Beach

Boambee Beach, near the village of Sawtell, is popular with locals and tourists alike. It’s regularly visited by fishermen, four-wheel-drive enthusiasts, joggers and Jet-Ski owners. The Beach provides anglers with both beach and river fishing, and the standard catch includes blackfish, flathead, whiting, mulloway and brim. At the southern end of Boambee Beach, you’ll find Boambee Creek Reserve. Although it’s a popular spot for families with young children (due to the shallow water and picnic and playground facilities), there is also a pedestrian bridge located under the rail bridge which provides fishing enthusiasts with access to the southern end of Boambee Beach. When not spending time catching fish in the area, tourists can enjoy amazing views from the Boambee Lookout and perhaps even spot migrating whales from June to November. There are also plenty of walking trails to explore, lots of shops, cafes and galleries to enjoy in nearby Sawtell, and many safe cycling tracks in the region.

About the Author: Fiona Charles is a travel writer and mother who enjoys exploring Australia’s best fishing spots with her husband and kids.


You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for content updates. Also, sign up for our email list for weekly updates and check us out on Google+ as well.

Watkins Glen International: Why NASCAR fans have the most fun

Impossibly fast.

With a revolving mixture of amusement and awe, those two words became a chorus in my head, going off like clockwork as each lap unraveled and 43 of the world’s best NASCAR drivers roared past the finish line and screamed into turn 1.

I was leaning against the railing of Zippo’s viewer-friendly suite in Watkins Glen, New York, for the annual NASCAR event that consistently draws tens of thousands of gung-ho fans. Aside from checking out Zippo’s current endeavors (which are stellar) and cataloguing the races themselves, an additional chunk of my focus at the Glen was to find out exactly what it is about NASCAR that has propelled it to remain an absolute juggernaut in the world of spectator sports.

Is the hype justified? Do the legions of diehard fans, movies and media coverage actually represent a sport deserving of such a pedestal? Many would scoff and issue a flippant dismissal, rebutting that NASCAR is simply a redneck obsession that has nonsensically acquired its popularity.

Having avoided any groundless perspectives, I was an unbiased sponge before my arrival; ready to soak in the scene and hammer out some concrete conclusions. To make a long story short: the naysayers have it wrong – very wrong.

“The Glen”

Watkins Glen International is by all means in the country, which for us meant a rolling and scenic cruise from the Buffalo Airport.

Fate had bestowed our driver with two notable characteristics: an encyclopedia-deep knowledge of upstate New York, including the Glen, and a superhuman ability to maintain unbelievably casual conversation despite vigorously tailgating any car that deviated below the assigned speed.

Given our empty stomachs and the familiar anticipation that any traveler feels before arrival, I wholeheartedly appreciated his quirks.

You begin to sense the immensity of the Glen even before you enter the gates. Signs that designate parking and directions slowly start to pepper the side of the road, tirelessly providing a first wave of guidance and defense to the most assured calamity that was already coalescing.

Gate 2, our drop-off point, was bustling with the quintessential festival entrance proceedings, complete with walkie-talkie clad workers, stop-and-go traffic and lots of chatter. Above us, in the distance, mammoth grandstands loomed.

After bidding farewell to our driver, our Zippo rep, Hunter, arrived moments later and we transitioned ourselves into his Jeep for the final voyage to camp, or as I like to call it, Ground Zero.

It didn’t take long to realize Hunter was friendly, down to earth and adept – a great ambassador for what was to be a hearty weekend.

Upon entering camp, which was at non-event dates a sprawling grassy area, crisscrossed by dirt roads and encompassed completely by the road course, I realized several things almost immediately. For one, my North Face and loafers, indiscernible at SFO, were now about as out of place and impractical as Hannah Anderson’s pajamas bottoms amidst the Montana forest. Too soon?

Also, I had widely underestimated the degree of revelry and madness, which reared its head wildly as we slowly rolled towards our spot. I found myself rubbernecking, hastily trying to take it all in.

Read the rest of this entry »


Tip Your Glass: Where to Find the Best Canadian Wines

Taking a wine-themed trip to Italy or the Napa Valley is on every oenophile’s bucket list. And, while less famous internationally, visiting Canadian vineyards is a fun and educational trip on its own. So, book a cheap flight (then you’ll have more money to spend on wine) and a hotel in one of the sites mentioned below to explore the best in Canadian wine.

Okanagan Valley

Encompassing Kelowna, B.C., the Okanagan Valley has been producing wine since the 1850s. It’s one of British Columbia’s two big wine regions (the other being Similkameen) and is notable for the variety of grapes grown there today. Along with Canada’s famous ice wine (a sweet variety produced from grapes frozen while still on the vine), in Okanagan wine lovers can find everything from merlot to tempranillo and chardonnay to gewürztraminer. An easy drive from Kelowna, the Okanagan Valley has many wine tours starting from the city.

Similkameen Valley

South of Okanagan, the Similkameen Valley was one of the first parts of British Columbia to be farmed by European settlers. It was the site of the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush in the late 1800s, but now most visitors are interested in its liquid gold — wine, that is! It stretches from the town of Princeton along the Similkameen River and over the American border. Take tours starting from Keremos; this valley and Okanagan make up 90 percent of British Columbia’s wine production.

The Niagara Peninsula

Another well-reviewed wine region in Canada is in Ontario on the Niagara Peninsula. Featuring a variety of vineyards operated by vintners big and small, this wine region also has many accommodation options, often on the winery properties themselves. Although a common misconception some travelers have is that Canada is too far north for many grape varieties, the Niagara Peninsula is actually at the same latitude as many famous and well-regarded wine regions in France, such as Bordeaux.

Prince Edward County

Although it’s one of the most southerly parts of Canada, Prince Edward County in Ontario was one of the last places to take off as a wine destination. It became a Designated Viticultural Area in 1997 and now boasts about 30 wineries. The region’s cuisine also gets rave reviews, so wine enthusiasts who are also gourmands will be especially happy visiting here. It’s an easy drive from Toronto and Ottawa — and has plenty of accommodation options.

Vancouver Island

If your travels take you to the West, spend a day or two exploring Vancouver Island’s wineries. Although some of the wines made there are simply casked and not grown, the local pinot noir and pinot gris get good reviews as do their sparkling wines. Most of the wineries are based on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, near Victoria, so that’s a good starting point.

Fraser Valley

Back in British Columbia, the Fraser Valley offers some interesting wines for the travelling connoisseur. An easy drive from Vancouver, the 15 Fraser Valley wineries host tastings, farm tours and dining events. Accommodation is available, but some visitors prefer to stay in Vancouver. Fraser Valley’s most popular wines are Blattner reds and whites, and pinot noir.

Pelee Island and Creston Valley

Two more Canadian wine areas deserving of mention are Pelee Island and Creston Valley. Lake Erie’s Pelee Island in Ontario is the southernmost inhabited area in Canada. This small island, accessible by ferry from both the U.S. and Canadian shorelines, has roughly over a hundred permanent residents and a well-reviewed winery. The winery offers tours, tastings and pairings. Creston Valley in British Columbia, on the other hand, has three wineries and aspires to have more soon. While in the area, visitors can also go trout and salmon-fishing, or enjoy other water sports on the Kootenay River in warm months.

About the Author: Robert Johnstan worked in restaurants in Toronto for many years before deciding to go back to school and open a consulting business for startups in the food industry.


The Wonderful Wine Regions of South Australia


Consisting of over 200 cellar doors and featuring many of the best drops in Aus, the South Australian wine trail is a must-do for every wine lover. Best of all, everything is in driving distance from Adelaide, meaning that arranging airport transfers, organizing transport and booking suitable Adelaide accommodation is exceptionally easy. The following is a guide to five of the best areas on the South Australian wine trail, with tips on which cellar doors and wineries you must visit.


The Barossa Valley is where Aussie wines were born and is home to some of the oldest vines in the country (160 years!). Located approximately 70kms from the heart of Adelaide, it’s a beautiful area, full of history and architecture from the original German settlers. Best known for its big, bold shiraz, Barossa is home to some of the most famous names in the Aussie wine industry, including Wolf Blass, Jacobs Creek, Yalumba and of course, Penfolds. The nearby Eden Valley is also part of the Barossa region and is a quaint spot known for its award-winning riesling production. Not only is the Barossa known for its top drops, it’s also a haven for foodies. It is home to a range of wonderful restaurants and some amazing cheese companies. Check out the Barossa Valley Cheese Company for a complete food and wine experience.

McLaren Vale

McLaren Vale is a red wine lover’s paradise. With over 70 cellar doors, it is best known for its deep, dark shiraz, flavoursome cabernet sauvignon and prizewinning grenache. Some of the must-sees include Chapel Hill Winery, Geoff Merrill Wines, Rosemount Estate and Zimmerman Wines. The boutique Chalk Hill is also a must-visit with a proud history of wine-making dating back six generations. If you have a more organic preference, check out the Battle of Bosworth and Spring Seed Wines. Finish your trip with a follow-up beer at the Vale Ale Brewery.


Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon is a staple of the Australian wine industry. The biggest wine area on the Limestone Coast, its terra rossa soil is credited for the region’s success. Although it sits 375kms from Adelaide, it’s worth the jaunt. Out of its 24 cellar doors, some of the best include Bowen Estate, Brand’s Laira Coonawarra, Wynns Coonawarra Estate and Redman Wines. Another highlight is the Coonawarra Wine Gallery, where you can various range of local wines and treat yourself to cheese platters and coffee.

Clare Valley

Located approximately 120kms from Adelaide, Clare Valley is home to some of the best in Aussie riesling. Another of Australia’s oldest wine regions, it’s full of attractions and activities including restaurants, art galleries and events, making it a hot-spot for tourists. The area is generally made up of boutique producers. Some of the best names on the riesling trail are some of the most renowned producers in all of Australia, including Jim Barry Wines, Tim Adams Wines, Edredge Wines, Taylors Wines and Annies Lane.

Adelaide Hills

Sitting 20 minutes from Adelaide, the gorgeous scenic views offered by Adelaide Hills makes for a lovely afternoon excursion in the crisp midwinter weather. Being a cool climate region, Adelaide Hills produces chardonnay, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc and riesling. The region’s style is elegant and premium, which has led to its national and international success. With over 40 cellar doors, Adelaide Hills offers something for everyone, regardless of palate and preference. K1 by Geoff Hardy is a must-see, as are Bird in Hand, Leabrook Estate and Mt Lofty Ranges Vineyard. Adelaide Hills is also known for its fabulous food, wine and music events. Look online before you go to see if anything coincides with your trip.

Photo credit: badjonni / Foter / CC BY-SA

About the Author: Dale McKenzie is a passionate wine drinker, wine writer and occasional wine judge. His dream is to retire on a seven-acre vineyard block in the Margaret River.


Popular casinos to visit in Las Vegas

If you’re taking a holiday in the city of Las Vegas, it is pretty likely that you will be visiting some of the casinos that are found around the city, especially along the Strip. The city offers well over one hundred casinos which can make selecting a few rather difficult. While these casinos all have their own flavor, certain ones are simply more popular than others.

The Bellagio is one of the more opulent casinos found in the city. It is well attended due to its casino game offerings including its poker rooms. These rooms have been the site of various poker tours. Measuring a total of 7000 square feet, the room is complete with 40 poker tables as well as two areas with high limits. Among these is the famous Bobby’s Room which was named for the 1978 World Series of Poker Champion, Bobby Baldwin. The casino also features a fountain show with the fountain being synchronize with a music and light program. Gamblers at the Bellagio should take a short time out to experience this one of a kind show.

Located within close proximity to the Bellagio is the Venetian. Visitors here can expect to find a theme from the Italian city of Venice. Complete with canals and gondolas, many may even for a brief time feel like that are actually in Venice. Like the Bellagio, poker has quite a presence here at the Venetian. The poker room found here is one of the largest in the city with 59 poker tables making it easy to cash in to a game while visiting the Venetian. Expect to find various versions of poker just like those available at . This includes the popular community card poker games of Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha Poker which are enjoyed by many at online casinos. Some tables do offer high limits but lower limit tables are present as well.


Related Posts