Travel Ideas

When people travel, the biggest topics and highlights are often unique, funny or offbeat experiences that make great dinner party conversations. That’s the best thing about travel for most of us – experiencing something that’s unusual when compared to ones own culture.  So here are seven unique travel ideas from around the world – ranging from activities to eating and other just plain crazy stuff – and all of which will have your friends fascinated.

Unique travel idea 1: Visit the shoe fence

The Shoe Fence, Waihola
You’ll find the shoe fence on New Zealand’s South Island, on the drive south from Dunedin towards Invercargill, near a place called Waihola. The fence has been steadily collecting shoes over the years, with many travellers adding their worn out pairs. And having accumulated so many pairs over the years, the Shoe Fence is now an enormous collection that would easily put Imelda Marcos’ stash to shame. It’s not uncommon to find bizarre fence collections like this all over New Zealand – there’s even a bra fence in a town called Middlemarch!

Unique travel idea 2: Drink coffee made from cat poo

Kopi Luwak from Bali is the world’s most expensive coffee – with prices often reaching the $500 per kilogram mark. But the main reason Kopi Luwak is famous isn’t its price, it’s because it’s made of cat poo (well, the Civet isn’t actually a cat – but they’re referred to by locals as ‘cats’ or ‘weasels’). The coffee beans are eaten and digested by the Asian Palm Civet, then they’re extracted from the Civet poo, washed thoroughly, lightly roasted – and made into coffee, or Kopi Luwak (Kopi = coffee, Luwak = the Civet). There are theories as to why the coffee tastes so good; the strongest argument being that the digestive tract of the Civet removes some of the bitter coffee taste, but leaves the beans intact.

Unique travel idea 3: Paint the town red

La Tomatina, Buñol
La Tomatina has got to rank as one of the world’s most bizarre and downright infantile fiestas on earth. This world-famous summer spectacular sees thirty thousand or so participants try to dispose of the entire EU tomato mountain by way of a massive hour-long food fight. It’s an event especially appealing to repressed northern Europeans, Americans and Japanese, who swarm to the otherwise unremarkable Spanish town of Buñol each year on the last Wednesday of August, accompanied by legions of TV crews and photographers to document the carnage. Hurling 130,000 kilos of over-ripe tomatoes at each other until the streets are ankle-deep in a sea of squelching fruit is a strangely liberating experience. At the very least, it’s the one fiesta where you can truly say that you’ve painted the town red.

Unique travel idea 4: Have dinner with the devil

Tasmanian Devil
Forget the spinning, raspberry-blowing Looney Tunes stereotype – the Tasmanian devil is a famously elusive character. So if you want to get up close and personal with one on your trip to Tasmania, you’re going to need the skills of Geoff King. You’ll be taken in a small group to King’s remote fishing hut, where he’ll tempt out the devil with road kill staked to the ground. When one appears – and it usually doesn’t take long – you’ll be in the front row for a show few experience, as the Tasmanian devil guzzles down the fresh carcass in front of your eyes. You’ll literally be at dinner with the devil.

Unique travel idea 5: Cockroach racing

Cockroach Racing is a popular event that takes place every year in Brisbane on Australia Day – the 26th January. The alleged story of how these races started is that two old punters sat in the Story Bridge Hotel bar arguing over which Brisbane suburb had the biggest and fastest cockroaches – so they decided to race them. Nowadays, a jar of cockroaches is placed in the middle of the racing arena and the first cockroach to reach the outer edge of the circle wins. While it may seem silly to race cockroaches, it’s all for a good cause – proceeds from the day go to charity.

Unique travel idea 6: Tuck into a Spam supper

Filipino favourite Spam
Spam Jam is a restaurant in Manila, the Philippines, which specialises in Spam recipes. The restaurant, which you’ll find in the Makati City area of Manila, has delights on offer like the Spam burger, Spam and eggs, Spam spaghetti and Spam Caesar Salad. But whilst the menu might sound like something from a Monty Python sketch, Spam is actually part of the staple diet in the Philippines because it’s a relatively inexpensive, readily available and doesn’t spoil quickly.

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Things to do in Australia

Meenakshi Shankar

Tired of the same old tourist spots like the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House? Wanderers Offbeat Australia is the guide to the weird and wonderful attractions that most tourists miss. Explore the odd places that make Australia truly offbeat.

From saffron to ocher, the earth paints herself in Australia. Some slip into the outback and forget about everything else, some savor the culture of the Aboriginals, some drink in the beauty of the land…and some simply launch themselves into the sky with parachutes attached to their backs.

Fancy a walk? You could either head out from the foot of Tasmania’s most famous peak, Cradle Mountain, and finishing at Australia’s deepest lake, St Clair. It’s called the Overland Track and it will take you a good week to walk it. The constant views of tall and marvelously shaped dolerite peaks (including Tasmania’s highest, Mount Ossa), beautiful waterfalls, rain forest, scrub land, swamps, bush, alpine plains and rivers. And we haven’t even mentioned the variety of fascinating flora and fauna.

Or hike to the top of Mount Amos where you drink in the glorious beauty of the picturesque Tasman Peninsula to Port Arthur.

Find out how you can connect with the world’s oldest living culture. Discover it the same way Aboriginal Australians have passed it down for at least 50,000 years – through art, dance, myths, music and the land itself. See Aboriginal art and contemporary dance in the cities. Or head to the outback and listen to Dreamtime myths of creation by the campfire. Bushwalk and snorkel, share bush-tucker or learn to craft spears and catch fish in the traditional way.
Let Aboriginal Australians help you understand this ancient land and its spirituality and wonder.

Try your luck noodling opal – in Coober Pedy – With more than 90 percent of the world’s opal mined from 70 different fields around northern SA’s Coober Pedy, you’re bound to find something, aren’t you? In between your mining excursions, you might want to take a look at the remarkable desert country near Coober Pedy – aptly named Moon Plain. It looks much like the lunar surface, dotted with mine shafts and mullock heaps from eight decades of digging.

Experience the sheer beauty of Kings Canyon :  The breathtaking sandstone chasm plunging 270m is one of Australia’s most dramatically beautiful places – a slash of deep green in a red landscape. – Hugely rewarding, though, with delights all the way round, including the Garden of Eden valley and the Lost City’s weathered rocks.

Visit little penguins on Phillip Island – Every day at dusk, Summerland Beach on Phillip Island comes alive with thousands of little penguins. Watch them waddle home in riotous packs and pairs after their long day foraging for food in icy Bass Strait. The rugged ocean beaches, sheltered bays, blowholes and caves are also home to koalas, abundant bird life and a large colony of fur seals.

In Kalabari, connect with the adventurer in you – Go abe sailing, Sand-boarding or simply explore Nature’s Window and Z-Bend Gorge which is an exhilarating 150 metre descent into the heart of the gorge.

Exhilarate in the spectacle of the Great Barrier Reef – Unforgettable is the word most people use to describe the Great Barrier Reef – a spectacle so vast it can be seen from space.

Swim with the whales –  Meet the world’s biggest fish – the whale shark – in the clear, turquoise waters of Western Australia’s huge fringing reef. These gentle underwater giants feed on the bright coral reef between April and June. You can also dive, swim or snorkel with dolphins, graceful manta rays and hundreds of species of tropical fish. On Ningaloo, this rainbow of marine life is just metres from the shore.

Drink in the beauty of the landscapeSoak up the beauty on the stunning Freycinet Peninsula. The most famous is Wineglass Bay, a perfect curve of white sand and turquoise sea against pink and grey granite peaks. Take in the magical view after an easy climb from Coles Bay or challenging trek from the top of Mount Amos. Or connect to this coastal paradise by going sea kayaking, swimming and scuba diving.

And, you cannot miss a trip to Christmas Island to watch the march of the red crabs. A perfect illustration on how Mother Nature can astound even the hardened cynic.