Travel Experience

Put your time off to good use and learn a new skill while you’re on holidays.  

Words: Charmaine Yabsley 

Roaming rights 

If you love the great outdoors but lack orienteering skills, then this 2.5 day navigation workshop at Mount Barney Lodge in the Scenic Rim, just 90 minutes from Brisbane and the Gold Coast, will give you the confidence you need to explore the wild. Or if this isn’t long enough, they also offer a seven-day wilderness first aid course. Got kids? Bring them along to learn how to light a fire using natural materials, track in the bush, master knot tying at Knot School and how to identify water bugs. The 12-hectare Mount Barney Lodge offers creek frontage, campfires, and spectacular mountain views, plus a year-round program of guided adventures with qualified nature guides.  

Small group exploring Lower Portal Walk
Shape your fun 

There is nothing better than a bespoke surfboard, shaped specifically for your needs and surfing style. The team at S*Lab, a creative hub for Surfboard Warehouse’s designers, now offers a hands-on surfboard design and shaping tour, developed by world surfing legends Rabbit Bartholomew, Beau Young, Rachel Tilley, and Andrew McKinnon. Using innovative 3D software, visitors can create their dream board under the tutelage of expert board shapers and then take home your own personally crafted board or head straight for the surf. W:  

Get digging 

If your child (or you) love everything to do with the Jurassic Era, then this dinosaur polishing workshop is ideal. Many people are amazed to discover that some 95 million years ago dinosaurs roamed Outback Queensland in huge numbers. The Australian Age of Dinosaurs in Winton is home to the largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils in the world and the only place in the southern hemisphere where the public can help prepare dinosaurs. The friendly and professional team will teach you the art and skill of dusting off a fossil or bone or you can get your hands dirty in a dinosaur dig, where you’ll dust down the femur from an enormous dinosaur – one grain at a time.   

Learn a lost trade 

Named after the legendary Cobb + Co stagecoach company that revolutionised coach travel in Australia, the Toowoomba Cobb + Co Museum is home to the National Carriage Collection where you can rediscover skills from yesteryear. Participants can learn from skilled master craftsman in skills such as blacksmithing, silver smithing, millinery, or leatherwork.  

Ride like a star 

Learn some horse play from the man who taught Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. The Cowboy Up Trail Riding, in Toowoomba, is run by experienced husband and wife team Peter and Gillian Gould whose client list includes the equine stars of Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Australia’. Even if you haven’t hit the trail for years, you’ll find it easy to rediscover your canter under their kind tutelage. Giddy up!  

Giddy up 

Once you’ve rediscovered your inner horse whisperer, why not set out on a longer horse riding experience, from beach trail to overnight rides to week-long horseback expeditions. Taught by triple Olympian Alex Watson, you’ll be learning from the best.   

Group riding their horses along Myall Beach in Cape Tribulation
Make home brew 

Learn how to blend your own rum at Australia’s most loved rum brand, Bundaberg Rum. For nearly 130 years, the art of blending Bundaberg Rum has been solely a pursuit for their Master Distillers. Until recently. Sign up for the ‘Blend Your Own Rum Experience’, and learn, firsthand, the art of blending the world famous rum in a 60-minute expert-led blending session. You’ll learn the art of tasting rum straight from the barrel, by sampling five distinctly different blends, to help you then create your own blend. You’ll finish the session by pouring the blend yourself, direct from the barrel. Then you’ll mix it, cap it, label it and leave with two of your very own personalised bottles.  

Return to the land 

Join a handful of curious venturers and travel back in time to a tiny island where butter-flat waters and a 60,000 year-old culture gives new meaning to ‘airtime’. By day, embrace the equatorial sun and take a longboat to the Magic Masig Mile, just under the belly of New Guinea. Here gusty trade winds bounce high over a whip-thin sandbank allowing you to kite surf the mirror flat surfaces on the other side. At night, power down into the ancient culture of the Torres Strait people. Learn how to hunt and cook crayfish, giant prawns, and mackerel over a pit over, while listening to the soulful choir and mythical tales from mariners who have learned to read the wind and navigate by the stars.  

Shoot for the stars  

The landscape and wildlife of North Queensland are certainly photo-worthy; ensure your memories are caught perfectly on camera by enrolling in a photography course. Cockatours set off in an 18-seater, all-terrain (and all-airconditioned) vehicle called ‘Zeus’. Loaded with camping gear, you’ll have everything you need to experience Cape Tribulation. Best of all, the programs also contribute to mentorship programs, designed to benefit Indigenous guides. Tours are led by the impressive Brian ‘Rossy’ Ross, a passionate photographer, fisherman, snake relocator, Wet Tropics tour guide and an ecologist who has been working in Cape York to help the Indigenous rangers manage feral animals.  Oh, and he’s an OA recipient too. 

Twitch a bit  

Based in Cooktown, local and ornithological expert David Mead runs a specialised birdwatching tours ranging from half a day Cooktown tour, chasing rare species like the Lovely Fairy Wren during an extended 12-day camping and accommodation tour. One of the most popular tours is the three-day circuit tour traveling through contrasting landscapes such as Battlecamp Range, Lakefield National Park and the Musgrave Telephone Station looking for the endangered Golden Shouldered Parrot.  

Set sail 

The Whitsundays might be the home of luxury island resorts, but it’s also headquarters to luxury floating hotel. If you’ve dreamed of island-hopping in the Greek Isles, sailing along Croatia’s famed Dalmatian Coast or boarding a traditional gulet in Turkey, set a course instead for The Whitsundays to learn the ropes. On this course you’ll learn to sail or choose a commercial crew course for future work and travel opportunities.  

Get cooking 

Whip out your chopsticks and head to North Queensland for a tropical cooking school guaranteed to sharpen your chef skills. Set in the lush pristine surroundings of Oak Beach in Port Douglas, Oaks Kitchen and Garden is an outdoor Southeast Asian cooking school led by esteemed Australian sous chef Benjamin Wallace (of Australia’s premium Thai restaurant Longrain fame). Breathe in the balmy Queensland air as you cook in the outdoor kitchen with produce from the working garden on the hillside, maintained by gardener (and Benjamin’s wife), Rachael Boon.   

Experiencing a cooking class at Oaks Kitchen and Garden
Spice up your life 

Explore the intricacies of Thai cuisine at this modern cooking school, purpose-built for Thai cuisine. Each participant will learn how to make a selection of delectable dishes over the four-hour class. While Spicers Tamarind is known for its Asian twist, the cooking classes also explore other cuisines such as French and Italian on specific dates.  


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