Tag Archives: Relaxation

365 Places: Merimbula

Day 178: Merimbula, New South Wales

Merimbula is just one of the many beautiful little towns that dot the south coast of New South Wales. The town is situated on the Merimbula lake and named after the Aboriginal word for ‘two lakes’. Merimbula is primarily a tourist town, renowned for its fresh rock oysters and annual Jazz Festival, which is held on the June Queens’ Birthday Long weekend. We stayed there one weekend a few years ago and it is a place I would love to visit again because of its beautiful beaches.

Image credit: http://www.penguinmews.com.au/
Image credit: http://www.penguinmews.com.au/

Merimbula is close to Bournda National Park, South East Forest National Park and the northern end of Ben Boyd National Parks. For walkers, check out the coastal walk which runs through Bournda National Park from Tathra to Tura Beach just north of Merimbula taking in coastal scenery. Southern Right Whales (less frequent) and Humpback Whales are big feature in the areas.

Images Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merimbula
Images Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merimbula

There are lots of fun things you can do in Merimbula including horse riding and roller coaster rides. I would love to check out Magic Mountain, Merimbula’s own theme park as it has a roller coaster and one of the best toboggan slopes in New South Wales.

365 Places: Ode to a Cappuccino, Charlie’s 1978

Day 177: Charlie’s Italian Restaurant, Darwin 1978

This post is about my love of coffee, in particular a cappuccino, from where it all began – celebrating my 12th birthday at an Italian restaurant in Darwin – Charlie’s.

Now I may have shared with you my penchant for a good coffee, particularly a cappuccino, but I am by no means a purist. I understand that an authentic cappuccino does not have chocolate on the top, and if this is the case, it is not the cappuccino I love.

What I love, is a strong coffee, topped with foaming frothy milk and drowning with chocolate powder. Around the outside of the rim is a crust of coffee, making the foam a taste sensation of bitter and sweet. It is the coffee of my childhood, of Italian cafes in Darwin and Brisbane in the 1970s and the 1980s. Moreover, it was not the coffee we had at home, which was flavourless in comparison (though my Dad still swears by International Roast).

Bit Strip - about reusable cups
Bit Strip – about reusable cups

My moment of truth happened when I was 12 at Charlie’s: my parents asked me after dinner if I would like a coffee and that is what I ordered – a cappuccino. It was nothing short of a sublime sensory experience – its aroma and flavour sang and I loved mixing the frothy milk into the rich dark coffee. From that first meeting, I know I had found something very special and delicious.

Charlie’s also had a reputation for his Cordon Bleu and Spaghetti, but my mum excels with these dishes – but a cappuccino was a new experience and one that I have loved now for over 30 years. Ironically I drink black coffee at home but I still love a cappuccino when I buy coffee – it just seems special.

Who else loves this kind of cappuccino? Would love your coffee stories 🙂

Thoughts on The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel: Linda Carroli


We are very pleased to welcome a new contributor to Geokult Travel – Linda Carroli. Since the mid 1990s, Linda and I have been good friends and have collaborated on many art and media projects. Linda is an Australian based writer and urban practitioner, who also has consulting experience across a broad range of fields – art, community development and heritage. She is internationally recognised for her writing and contribution to the arts, winning many awards. We hope you enjoy Linda’s thought-provoking writing and commentary on travel.
Tracey Benson

Book Cover: The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel
Book Cover: The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel

The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel by Linda Carroli

This is the first blog post of many I hope to share on Tracey and Marty’s Geokult Travel blog. In my posts, I will explore more unusual and unexpected aspects of travel, tourism and travel writing. This first post is a musing on The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel by Rachael Antony and Joël Henry (The Laboratory of Experimental Tourism). While the book is now nearly a decade old, having been first published in 2005, it continues to enthral and enhance a travel itinerary. In a sense the book offers ‘gamified’ travel in a way that makes for a sense of difference and play – experiencing differently or playfully. ‘Gamification’ means the application of game dynamics and processes to non-game contexts.

‘Experimental Travel’, also known as experimental tourism, is acknowledged by the authors as difficult to define. They describe it as a “playful way of travelling, where the journey’s methodology is clear but the destination may be unknown”. They suggest that the only requisite for such an approach to travel is an adventurous spirit. Discovery and exploration are multiplied by playing some of the games or following some of the simple instructions. The instructional nature of experimental is particularly interesting: the acceptance of constraints, such as directions, help redefine experiences.

The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel provides a catalogue of 40 experiments for you to try as well as details the results of experiments undertaken through the Laboratory of Experimental of Tourism.

The book includes methods drawn from the Situationists such as dérivé, as well as Dada and Surrealist style games. Psychogeography, mythogeography and flânerie are also in the mix. Imagine throwing a dice or coin to make decisions about your tourist experience and to define your travel itinerary. Have you ever considered spending 24 hours in an airport or journeying from airport to airport? Airports have been described by anthropologist Marc Augé as a ‘non-place’, an institutional environment designed to expedite transit and passenger conveyance, though strangely reminiscent of a shopping mall.

The Lonely Planet Guide is but one resource for experimental tourists, and will not placate everyone’s sense of adventure. Road Junky, for example, describes it as ‘sanitised’ and has compiled a list of 101 experimental travel ideas available online, with many of them prompting intercultural and interfaith excursions (not to mention national security concerns!), such as visiting every Muslim country in the world. Initiatives in Countertourism are attentive to the heritage tourism experience and encourage:

innovative consuming, intervention and even ‘infiltration’ to transform the way that the heritage industry and its sites are visited, looked at, experienced, conserved, managed and changed.

Technologies, such as GPS and GIS, and social media can also enhance the experience. Perhaps there’s another guide to be written about experimental travel using social media e.g. You arrive in a place and tweet asking for advice on a good place to eat, go to the first recommendation. You can continue to co-design your travel. Many of the experiments are open-ended urban incursions, they are ambulatory and constrained. If you have doubts, try it locally first. Try backpacking in your home city, or taking a line for a walk in your neighbourhood. Part of the challenge lies in figuring out how willing you are to relinquish some of the decision-making by following simple instructions and venturing into the unknown or unplanned. While some aspects of the journey are pre-figured, the route and the destination are not.

[NOTE: You are always responsible for your own safety when using experimental travel guides or practicing experimental travel. The author and publisher of this blog disclaims any responsibility for and liability for loss or injury in the event of experimental travel.]


Linda Carroli is a Brisbane-based writer and urban practitioner. Her consulting work has included studies on visitor experience, tourism infrastructure, cultural and heritage tourism, and destination management.

365 Places: Tulip Top Gardens

Day 90: Tulip Top Gardens, Old Federal Highway, Sutton NSW

Today we went to Tulip Top Gardens to see the beautiful display of spring flowers. The gardens are not as big or as busy as Floriade, which makes it a relaxing time in the gardens. As part of the entry fee we got a sausage sizzle and some Dutch Pancakes – yum!! Apparently it was a ‘special’ day as the pancakes are not always available. As you walk through the gardens, piped music makes for a lovely ambience and a feeling of being lost in time, to another, more genteel time and place.

Spring in the Capital region is a stunning time of year, when the Wattles are in bloom alongside the Apple, Peach, Cherry and Plum trees. To make this colourful display even more brilliant are the many Daffodils, Jonquils,Tulips, Pansy and Sweet Peas.

365 Places: The National Arboretum

Day 81: The National Arboretum

Yesterday we went to the National Arboretum which was a great way to spend a bit of time on a Saturday afternoon.

The Visitor’s Centre is a beautiful building, with some stunning design features which I hope I have captured below. The use of local timbers and stone has been used to great effect and it is a lovely building to enjoy both from the inside and the outside.

National Arboretum © Tracey Benson 2014
National Arboretum © Tracey Benson 2014

What is the Arboretum?
An arboretum (pronounced ar-bo-re-tum) is a collection of living trees, cultivated for conservation, scientific, research and educational purposes.

The National Arboretum Canberra first opened in February 2013, and has attracted many visitors from Canberra, Australia and around the world. The Arboretum website says that:

It is already contributing to the protection of tree species and tree diversity world-wide, as well as generating new research and understanding about how trees grow, survive and adapt.

The aim of the Canberra Arboretum is to become one of the great arboreta in the world; a place of outstanding natural beauty, community amenity and scientific value.

The  Arboretum  is home to 94 forests of rare, endangered and symbolic trees from Australia and around the world. More than 48,000 trees grow on the 250 hectare (618 acres or 2.5 million square metres) site, with species from over 100 countries. Map of the Arboretum (PDF). You can also take a number of walks around the Arboretum. At the Village Centre you can get a free map of the self-guided walking trails or downloaded the guide here (PDF).

Here are some pictures:

Maybe next weekend we might do a walk through the Cork forest.

365 Places: Manik Organik

Day 57: Manik Organik, Sanur, Bali, Indonesia

Today I write about a favourite haunt close to Paneeda View, Manik Organik.

Manik Organik is a great spot, offering delicious whole foods from the cafe, natural skin care, alternative health therapies, arts, dance and cooking classes and our favourite form of tropical torture – yoga.

There were three types of yoga classes on offer while we were here – Bali style, Hatha and Ashtanga Vinyasa Flow. We did the Bali and Hatha classes and enjoyed both, for different reasons. The Bali style was quite different to other classes we have done in the past and the first class was very challenging. The second class was a bit easier, finding that our bodies were willing to stretch a bit more. Mangku was also a wonderful teacher and we promised him next year that we will be better. He is also a traditional Balinese Hindu priest and healer – here is some information from The Power of Now Oasis Yoga website.

Jero Mangku comes from a long line of traditional balinese hindu priests, his life is truly an offering. He began teaching yoga over 5 years ago, and is certified by the School of Sacred Arts here in Bali. He always brings strong elements of Joy, Peace, and Harmony as well as Effort and Discipline into his yoga classes. Drawing from a deep knowledge of spirituality, body work and a life of practice, his classes are very popular with locals, expats, and tourists alike.

Here is Mangku in some pretty amazing poses.

Image Credit: http://manikorganikbali.com
Image Credit: http://manikorganikbali.com
Image Credit: http://manikorganikbali.com
Image Credit: http://manikorganikbali.com
Image Credit: http://manikorganikbali.com/
Image Credit: http://manikorganikbali.com/

What we found was really nice way to spend a morning was to go to yoga class and then tuck in some yummy breakfast from the cafe. Here is a picture of the fruit and muesli plate – delicious!

© Tracey Benson 2014
© Tracey Benson 2014

Given we are already planning our trip for next year, it looks like some more yoga will be in store – the challenge will be making sure we keep going once we get back to the cold of Canberra.

Some Holiday Reading

Bali for me is an opportunity to recharge the batteries, to take the opportunity to relax and do nothing  – unlike other travel where we are pretty active with planned activities, discovering new places and learning about new environments. As mentioned in my earlier post 365 Places: Bali, I have been coming to Bali since 1981 so in many ways it is like a second home, or more accurately, a second holiday home.

When we are on holidays in Bali, I love to catch up with reading, especially reading for pleasure as I read a lot in my working life – for research and information. Here are some of the books I am reading these holidays:

The Gentle Subversive: Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, and the Rise of the Environmental Movement (New Narratives in American History) by Mark Hamilton Lytle

A Place in the World by Cinda Crabbe MacKinnon

How to Travel Full Time by Colin Wright

These books I read from other times we were here, but I am reading them again as they are all about Bali and it’s culture:

Love and Death in Bali by Vicki Baum

Bali: Sekala & Niskala by Fred B. Eiseman

Yep – reading by the pool, my idea of spending time on holidays 🙂

365 Places: Alam Jiwa

Day 55: Alam Jiwa, Nyuh Kuning, Bali, Indonesia

Today, I am posting again about Alam Jiwa, the beautiful place I wrote about yesterday in 365 Places: Nyuh Kuning and Garry wrote about inThe Soul of Nature.

This is a truly amazing place, surrounded by little ponds, fountains and waterfalls, where the water from which all comes off the rice fields nearby. Here are some images of this very special place.

365 Places: Nyuh Kuning

Day 54: Alam Jiwa, Nyuh Kuning, Bali, Indonesia

Today I write this post from the the very beautiful village of Nyuh Kuning, where we are staying as guests of my uncle, Garry Benson, who also writes for Geokult Travel. His most recent post is also about this lovely little village, whose name means Yellow Coconuts. The village is located close to Ubud, in the heart of Bali.

Alam Jiwa © Tracey Benson 2104
Alam Jiwa © Tracey Benson 2104

Our rooms are amazing, with views of the rice paddies, little shrines everywhere and an indoor/outdoor bathroom (something I am obsessed with in Bali). The only challenge is the very slow wifi – I have been trying to upload images since last night and they are still loading.Only one image uploaded while we were there – this beautiful lotus from the garden pictured above.

When we return to Sanur, I will write another post with some images from this beautiful, peaceful place.

One thing worth mentioning in passing is that Ubud and the surrounding villages are very conscious of the environment and are focused on being sustainable – you can check out this great website Ubud: Now and Then for more information.

365 Places: Sanur Beachfront

Day 52: Sanur Beachfront, Bali, Indonesia

Today was our first day back in beautiful Bali and we spent a very relaxing day walking along the beach, getting a massage, swimming and eating some yummy Indonesian food.

While we were walking I photographed some of the interesting stone carvings, doorways and views of the beach. There are also a few pics of our gorgeous room at the Paneeda View Beach Hotel. Hope you enjoy 🙂