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The hot Aussie travel trends


Wine, sport and five-star backpacking – these are just some of the travel trends Tourism Australia expects to see hit our nation in 2018. 

The peak tourism body has just released its list of the 10 hottest Aussie travel trends. The number one trend is wine and design – vineyards adding a splash of art or architecture. But sport, flashpacking and Canberra also made the list. 

Here’s the top ten. 

Number 1: Wine and Design

The d'Arenberg Cubeis part of an emerging trend combining wine and art.

Top of Tourism Australia’s 2018 trends list is Wine and Design experiences. Expect to see more vineyards with art installations or funky new architecturally-designed lodging. 

“A series of high-end conceptual art and design experiences is currently sweeping Australia’s vineyards, the most hotly anticipated of which is the avant-garde d’Arenberg Cube in South Australia’s McLaren Vale wine region,” Tourism Australia says in a press release. 

Set to open in 2018, the d’Arenberg winery cube will feature public and private tasting rooms, virtual fermenters, bars and a restaurant in a structure resembling a half-solved Rubik’s cube. The cube is crowned with 16 hydraulic umbrellas – 15 black and one red – which open in a playful, choreographed sequence of movement.

It’s not the only vineyard to bring design into the wine experience. A new $50 million sculpture park, cellar door and fine dining restaurant has also been planned at Point Leo Estate Vineyard on Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula. The sculpture park will feature 50 large scale contemporary works from sculptors such as Tony Cragg, Zodok Ben-David and Inge King. 

Number 2: Commonwealth Games

At number two, Tourism Australia lists the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.  The Games have been a catalyst for change in the southern Queensland city, with the council investing heavily in light rail, fibre networks for hotels and businesses and tourism facilities.  Entrepreneurs have been flocking to the coast this year and the restaurant and craft brewing scenes are booming. 

Big things are predicted for the Gold Coast this year.

The Games also coincided with Festival 2018, an arts and cultural festival that took place  in 20 different locations across the Gold Coast at the same time as the Commonwealth Games. That festival is part of the longer plan by the Gold Coast to attract more cultural events. In future the Gold Coast could become more known for Opera on the beach, art and music than it is for schoolies. 

Tourism numbers for the Gold Coast are already breaking records. Expect more to come. 

Number 3: Go West

Tourism Australia is predicting big things for Western Australia this year, particularly for Perth. Last month Qantas began its first direct flights to London from Perth and the city has several new hotel openings and developments slated for this year. 

Perth is also experiencing a cultural boom, street art is flourishing, the small bar scene has exploded and there is a “hotel room boom”, according to Tourism Australia. 

“Design-led luxury brand QT Hotels will open QT Perth mid-2018, The Westin will open an ambitious city hotel on April 27, the Hilton will open three DoubleTrees by 2019 and a Ritz Carlton will open in 2019 at the new Elizabeth Quay precinct,” Tourism Australia says. 

Number 4: Wildlife without walls

Zoos in 2018 are looking to ditch the cages, giving visitors and the animals a more wild experience. 

The $36 million Sydney Zoo, set to open in late 2018, will feature 30 new animal exhibits viewed from elevated boardwalks. 

A Tasmanian Devil at the UnZoo.

This trend towards more intimate, natural and wild zoo settings can also be seen at the Tasmanian Devil UnZoo, an hour’s drive from Hobart, where guests can experience Tasmanian devils, golden possums, kangaroos and eastern quolls in natural habitats with the barriers removed or concealed.

Other un-zoo experiences include Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, Monarto Zoo, near Adelaide and Weribee Open Range Zoo in Victoria. 

Number 5: The Reef’s Great Eight

Africa has the big five. But tourism Australia wants to claim that Australia has the “Great Eight” – a list of weird and wonderful marine creatures that tourists should tick off their list on an underwater safari. 

The great eight are: clownfish, giant clam, manta rays, Maori wrasse, potato cod, sharks, turtles and whales.

Tourism Australia recommends the Southern Great Barrier Reef region for the best chance of ticking off the eight. 

“Seeing clams and clownfish can be as easy as taking a day trip out to Green Island off Cairns. Port Douglas-based vessel Silversonic offers trips that may include swimming with dwarf minke whales. Lady Elliot Island, in the Southern Great Barrier Reef near Bundaberg, is known as the home of the manta ray,” Tourism Australia says. 

Tourism Australia expects more tourists to visit the Southern Great Barrier reef this year.

But if you can’t spot them all, you can also tick off the eight at the  brand new, multi-million dollar Cairns Aquarium that opened in September, 2017. The attraction includes a deep-reef exhibit, 10 eco-systems and 71 habitats.

Number 6: Superb mountain biking

If you haven’t heard of Derby Tasmania, you’re not a real mountain-biker. 

The series of trails call the Blue Derby really are a rider’s delight. More than 100km of biking tracks weave through eucalypt forests and bushland, past tree ferns, rivers and gorges. There’s a trail for everyone, from beginners through to pros. And it’s becoming seriously popular. 

Mountain bikers descend down Thredbo on a cool autumn day in the Snowy Mountains, New South Wales, Australia.

Thedbo in NSW’ snowy mountains also offers stunning mountain bike tracks (and the option of taking the chairlift up). Additionally, Canberra’s mountain biking mecca, Stromlo Forest Park this year unveiled another addition to their Vapour Trail Network – the black diamond G Lock run. The international mountain-biking community is also keeping an eye on Tropical North Queensland where a major MTB event is slated for 2018

In late 2018, The Gold Coast could also be on many mountain bike-rides lists with the revamping of their tracks for the Commonwealth Games. 

Number 7: Flashpacking

Backpacking is too hard. These days, everyone wants to be a flash-packer. This is one trend you can expect older teens to follow. 

Travellers are demanding more from their lodgings. Basic hostel-style lodgings are being re-imagined as slick, modern accommodation at accessible prices. 

In January 2018, Byron Bay YHA will unveil a multi-million-dollar extension that nearly doubles its capacity from 100 to 199 beds, and adds a new reception and communal area. All the new rooms will feature en-suite bathrooms. Guests can also enjoy a heated swimming pool, travel desk, BBQ, and surfboard and bike hire. 

Number 8: Canberra is now cool. Yes, really. 

Canberra, our nations capital, has always hosted loads of school excursions. But in 2018, it’s really become cool for families with children of all ages. In fact,  Lonely Planet just named Canberra as the world’s third-best city to visit in 2018. 

Canberra’s national arboretum is fabulous for families with incredible art works, workshops, bonsai and one of the country’s best playgrounds. 

Sunrise at the National arboretum.

This year Canberra’s National Gallery of Australia will exclusively host, Cartier: The Exhibition from 30 March 2018 to 22 July. The breathtaking collection of the world’s most exquisite jewels showcases more than 300 items including jewels on loan from royal families. Never before will so many incredible diamonds, emeralds and other precious stones, in exquisite settings such as royal tiaras, have come to Australia.

Number 9: Slick regional dining hubs

Great dining has spread outside of the cities with some regional areas fast becoming known as “haute dining hubs”. 

In 2017, two Australian restaurants made The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list: Melbourne’s Attica (No 32) and, at No 44, Brae in a town of less than 1000 residents called Birregurra, 130km (80 miles) from Melbourne. 

If you’re family is keen on food you could also check out Dunkeld, a similar-sized town 280km (175 miles) from Melbourne, Tasmania’s Derwent Valley or Kangaroo Island.

Perhaps this trend is one for a weekend away from the kids?

Number 10: Aboriginal Wellness treatments

Australia’s most luxurious desert resort, Longitude 131, reopened on 1 August, 2017 following a $6 million transformation that added a two-room spa to the remote lodge where Oprah Winfrey stayed on her 2010 Australian tour. 

Spa Kinara, with a design inspired by a traditional shelter known as a wiltja, offers treatments inspired by local Aboriginal Anangu culture. Native ingredients such as scented emu bush, Kakadu plum, quandong, desert lime, yellow clay and nutrient-rich desert salts are incorporated into the range of facial and body treatments.

Aboriginal wellness concepts and native ingredients are increasingly being integrated into Australian day spas: Southern Ocean Lodge on South Australia’s Kangaroo Island, uses bush ingredients such as eucalyptus, pepperberry and banksia flowers. In Tropical North Queensland, Daintree Eco Lodge’s spa incorporates indigenous traditions. Wawu Jirakul (which means ‘your spirit cleansed’) is a massage performed by a waterfall within the World Heritage-listed Daintree rainforest. 

At Sydney’s Shangri-la hotel, CHI, The Spa’s Australian Botanical Retreat treatment includes wattleseed and sandalwood exfoliation, a green clay body wrap and a massage with eucalyptus and honey myrtle-infused oil. 

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