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Lifestyle : NSW Tourism Awards 2011
1HERSA1 0011 ...please enjoy! ~ ~ ~ P travel nsw tourism awards THE SUN-HERALD SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2011 11 It's quite possible to have an amazing day and still be back in time for dinner. just in time and we sprawl under the trees on a picnic blanket, hoeing in to gourmet sandwiches and orange juice, fortifying ourselves for the trip back across the harbour. Earlier, we had gathered at the boat ramp at Little Manly Beach to be met by Melina, Ian and a trailer full of kayaks and mountain bikes. This particular Life's an Adventure tour is dubbed the Manly Tri Adventure and involves a mountain-bike ride, followed by the kayak and, finally, a bush walk. Each leg is five kilometres long, making it easily within reach of all but the most unfit. The day kicks off with a gentle bike ride around North Head, stopping occasionally to check out the magnificent harbour vistas and chortle at the fact all the buildings on the horizon are full of office workers staring at screens. We have the area all to ourselves and it's hard not to feel like a student who has bunked off school. Kayaks follow the bikes and then we jump into our cars for a quick trip to the start of the bushwalk, which turns out to be a section of the Manly to The Spit walk. It's a well- loved and well-known route for very good reason -- sometimes, just metres from the road among the littoral heath, it's possible to feel a thousand kilometres from the city. The walk is enlivened by informed commentary from Melina and Ian about the flora and fauna we encounter. Melina and I trade botanical names for native species; or rather, I get them laughably wrong and she gently corrects me (it turns out she was an ecologist in a former life, which seems to me a bit too much like high achieving). After an enjoyable 90-minute tramp, The Spit comes into view and another of the Life's an Adventure crew is on hand to pick us up in a Troop Carrier and ferry us back to our cars. It's been a hugely enjoyable, low-key day, made all the more pleasant by the fact we did it right under the nose of an unsuspecting city that was hard at work. In fact, it was a true ''backyard adventure''. My mate Paul would be impressed. Life's an Adventure runs a range of activities in and around Sydney. See lifesanadventure.com.au. The Manly Tri Adventure costs $199 ($179 on Mondays). Other finalists in the adventure category included Broken Hill- based Tri State Safaris (see box) and Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures, which offers activities from quad biking and abseiling to horse riding and fishing in 1200 hectares of wilderness in the central coast hinterland. Adventure Underground leads tours through the Jenolan Caves. TreeTop Adventure Park on the central coast offers more than 100 challenges in the trees of Ourimbah State Forest. Yuraygir Coastal Walk on the north coast is a four-day, 65-kilometre walk along the spectacular coastline between Angourie and Red Rock. In the Illawarra region, We Love the Gong organises skydiving, climbing, hang-gliding and more. Bring your 4WD and a sense of adventure There are some places that you should never take a bus, or even the family car. Corner Country in outback NSW, the place where three states --- NSW, Queensland and South Australia --- meet is one of them. Sure, you can get to Broken Hill, Silverton and even --- if the weather has been dry and the road is in reasonable condition --- Tibooburra, in a conventional car. But if you really want to explore the best part of this rugged and remote area, you need a four- wheel-drive. And a sense of adventure. Tri State Safaris, based in Broken Hill, is ideal for those who want to explore the outback but don't have the right wheels; and for those who prefer small groups to big busloads of tourists. They have a range of 4WD trips to Corner Country's best spots, including places like the Mutawintji Historic Site in Mutawintji National Park, 130 kilometres north-west of Broken Hill. It's one of the country's best Aboriginal rock art sites, dating back more than 8000 years. The only way you can see the engravings and hand stencils is with a guide and Tri State Safaris is one of the few tour companies that now has access to the site, including exclusive access to some rock art galleries. They also have permission to explore private stations, so you really do get to travel off the beaten track. Other tours head out to the World-Heritage-listed Mungo National Park, where the world's oldest cremated human remains, somewhere between 45,000 and 60,000 years old (the experts are still quibbling) were found buried in the sand; Menindee Lakes; the subterranean opal mining town of White Cliffs; Tibooburra; and Cameron Corner. If you do have a 4WD, you can always join a tag-along tour, so you still get to see the areas that are off limits to DIY travellers. But whichever way you go, you will definitely still need a sense of adventure. (08) 8088 2389, tristate.com.au. Lee Atkinson special report
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