Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Blue Waters Kayaking offering rentals at Lake Sonoma’s Yorty Creek

Folks who want to paddle or float away from it all can now rent a kayak, canoe, standup paddleboard, or inner tube from Blue Waters Kayaking on weekends at Lake Sonoma’s Yorty Creek Recreation Area in northern Sonoma County.

Lake Sonoma offers more than 50 miles of coastline and 40 miles of trails. The Yorty Creek Recreation Area public launch site (car-top boats only) provides a slightly quieter feeling than other parts of this large lake, because it is in a no-wake zone.

From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, Blue Waters Kayaking rents single and double kayaks, canoes, stand up paddleboards, and inner tubes right next to Yorty Creek’s boat launch. Private tours from Yorty Creek are available on any day of the week with advance reservations.

Blue Waters also offers Lake Sonoma Full Moon Camping Tours. Their lakeside campsite is easily reached by a scenic paddle, and is equipped with camp chairs, a camp stove, grill, firewood for one fire, and fresh water. It’s also staffed by one of Blue waters’ capable and friendly kayak guides. The Full Moon tour includes a guided night paddle from camp.

Blue Waters Kayaking
At Yorty Creek Recreation Area (Lake Sonoma)
2651 Hot Springs Road
Cloverdale CA 95425
415-669-2600
www.bluewaterskayaking.com/lakesonoma

MT STIRLING HUB TO BE POWERED BY MICRO-HYDRO SYSTEM

Mount Stirling TBJ Hub Opening
The Telephone Box Junction hub located on Mt Stirling in Victoria's high country will be powered by a newly completed hydro system after receiving a $210,000 grant from the Victorian Government. 

The hub was officially opened by Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Victoria Danielle Green this week, joined by representatives of local businesses and Mt Buller Mt Stirling Resort Management Board members.

The original hydro system, built by Mt Stirling business operators in the late 1990’s was destroyed in fires that swept through the resort in the summer of 2006-2007. Mt Buller Mt Stirling Resort Management embarked on a journey to plan and fund the replacement of the diesel generator that had since been powering facilities at Telephone Box Junction. 

Extensive research was conducted to find the best, most cost-effective and sustainable solution. The micro-hydroelectricity system, working on water pressure generated from a turbine and nearby stream and weir was identified as the most appropriate option to power the hub with minimal impact on the surrounding environment. 

Ms Green is passionate about Victoria's Alpine areas and said of the Telephone Box Junction hub investment, "Visitors and locals alike are set to benefit from this innovative development that supports the growing Alpine tourism industry while also protecting the environment”.

The funding for the project not only went towards the hydro system but also to providing better facilities for visitors to Mt Stirling.  This included an all-weather access track from King Saddle to the Machinery Shed, a new public toilet at the Machinery Shed, new shelters, and a community information board at Howqua Gap.

Environmental Services Manager for Mt Buller Mt Stirling Resort Management, Lou Perrin, said of the project "We are so excited to have the hydro system up and running. I've worked closely on the project from beginning to end and it has been worth every challenge. The improvements to the amenity and facilities will provide long-term benefits to the mountain and visitors alike.

"Funding from the Victorian Government has allowed us to create a truly environmentally sustainable hub here at Mt Stirling".

The hub was jointly funded from the Victorian Government’s $500 million dollar Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund and Mt Buller Mt Stirling Resort Management.

New Zealand’s 7th year participating at AFNC 2017 hailed a success

A team of 6 partners from New Zealand met with over 500 delegates at the 12th Associations Forum National Conference last week at Sydney ICC.

Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) Australia Manager Sharon Auld said delegates at the conference kept coming back to the 100% Pure New Zealand stand over the two days. “With true Kiwi Manaakitanga (hospitality), we had a constant flow of Antipodes New Zealand Artesian water available to refresh delegates throughout the conference, as well as a special Cloudy Bay wine event on day two.” Sharon said Delegates also had the opportunity to help colour in a large scale Maori design in traditional Maori colours red, black and white, which increased engagement on the stand.

The NZ team were on hand to explain the support available to Associations for their business events, regardless of how big or small. Of particular interest was the marketing support which can be applied for through Tourism New Zealand’s Conference Assistance Programme.

The team ran a prize draw and the lucky prize winner, Sue McGrath of Australian Veterinary Association won a case of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc delivered to her door.

The New Zealand representatives at the 12th AFNC in Sydney on 17 and 18 July were :
  • Auckland Museum - Tamaki Paenga Hira
  • Christchurch & Canterbury Convention Bureau
  • Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ)
  • Destination Rotorua Business Events
  • Hobbiton™ Movie Set
  • The Langham Auckland
  • Skyline Queenstown
  • Tourism New Zealand

SYDNEY AIRPORT WELCOMES NEW MANTRA HOTEL

SYDNEY AIRPORT MANTRA HOTEL
The new Mantra Hotel at Sydney Airport was officially opened last week by the NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Adam Marshall.

The new development features 136 modern studio rooms and caters to business travellers looking for conveniently located accommodation close to the airport and terminals.

Minister Marshall congratulated the Mantra Group on the hotel opening.

“With record numbers flying into Sydney, new hotel openings such as the Mantra Hotel provide visitors to NSW with greater choices in accommodation location, style and price point. New hotels in key precincts play a critical role in promoting a vibrant visitor economy while meeting the needs of growing visitor numbers to Sydney, attracting first-time and returning domestic and international travellers."

Visit MantraHotels.com for bookings and further information.

Opening the 46th Meeting of ASEAN National Tourism Organisations

46th Meeting of ASEAN National Tourism Organisations
On 24 July 2017, the 46th Meeting of ASEAN National Tourism Organisations was officially launched in Flamingo Dai Lai Resort, Vinh Phuc Province, Viet Nam in the context of celebrating the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN (8 August 1967-2017).

The meeting had the participation of more than 100 delegates from ASEAN National Tourism Organisations (NTOs), ASEAN Secretariat, ASEAN Tourism Association and media agencies.

On his opening speech, Chairman of Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), Mr. Nguyen Van Tuan stressed that ASEAN region is endowed with great potentials for tourism development and has achieved encouraging achievements in recent years. In 2016, the region recorded more than 113 million visitor arrivals, increasing by 7% compared to 2015. In particular, Viet Nam received over 10 million international arrivals in 2016, seeing an increase of 26% over the previous year. In the 6 first months of 2017, there were 6.2 million international arrivals to Viet Nam, reaching a remarkable rise of 30%.

However, ASEAN tourism has been facing with difficulties and challenges related to global climate change, policy barriers to tourism development. Therefore, in order to maintain the tourism growth, attract more arrivals, ASEAN NTOs should strengthen closer cooperation in tourism promotion, upgrading tourism service quality, tourism infrastructure investment as well as diversifying tourism products, Chairman Nguyen Van Tuan said. Also, ASEAN NTOs should closely collaborate with relevant agencies to resolve difficulties, facilitate visitors, further strengthen cooperation with dialogue partners including Japan, China, South Korea, Russia, India and other countries, international organisations to take advantages of their technical assistance and investment for rapid and sustainable development of ASEAN tourism.

As scheduled, the meetings of ASEAN and China, Japan, and ROK (ASEAN+3) NTOs; ASEAN-China NTOs; and ASEAN-India Tourism Working Group will take place on 26 July after the 46th Meeting of ASEAN National Tourism Organisations.

The meetings concentrate to issues set out in ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan (ATSP) 2016-2025 such as ASEAN Tourism Marketing Strategy 2017-2020; establishment of the Regional Secretariat for the implementation of MRA-TP; ASEAN tourism products; ASEAN Joint Declaration on cruise tourism; community and private sector participation.

*Thanh Tam

OUTDOOR EVENT DECK FEATURES AT THE SYDNEY INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW

Unique features of the new International Convention Centre, which opened to much fanfare only recently, are allowing Sydney International Boat Show organisers to really show off this world class venue.

One such feature is the Event Deck, which adjoins the Upper Level Exhibition Halls. The ICC boasts both upper and lower exhibition floors that will be fully utilised by the Boat Show.

The Event Deck is becoming a talking point for many, with the occupants of the city sky line having a bird’s eye view of activities. On arrival, the immediate impact will come from three oversized pools adorning the area.

Visitors can watch, learn and for those willing to brave the weather, try a kayak or stand up paddleboard (SUP). A host of demonstrations will run non-stop during the daylight hours of the show. Watch a SeaBob in action, learn all about SUP Yoga and fitness or you can even paddle to music. For those with young ones, have them try out a kids’ mini-bumper boat.

The Event Deck will include a huge display of sports racing boats for those with speed in their blood. Those looking for a more relaxed outlook should check out the Prawn & Oyster Bar or have a refreshing drink in the Garden Deck. Kids won’t miss out either, with a fun ice-cream parlour.

Toss in a little music from Bondi Beach Radio and there will be fun to be had by all.

Halls will open from 10am to 8pm, while the Marina will open from 10am up until 7pm. Tickets can be purchased online now, and if you buy online you will be entered into a draw to win a Hobie 10’5 Eclipse valued at $2,890. Visitors wanting more information or to buy tickets should visit the website www.sydneyboatshow.com.au

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

ART YOU CAN'T MISS AT SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Did you know San Francisco International Airport is the country's only airport with a museum program accredited by the American Association of Museums?

Next time you’re at SFO, plan a little extra time to relax and enjoy the world class art exhibits; let your imagination take flight. You don’t have to be traveling to enjoy the art. There are plenty of exhibits pre-security to enjoy, making SFO a great rainy day outing. Although it’s fun to take the free AirTrain from terminal to terminal, you'll see the most if you just stroll.

SFO Artwork is Open to the Public and Free of Charge

Although not a museum in the traditional sense, SFO’s permanent Public Art Collection includes more than 100 paintings, sculptures, mosaics and site-specific works in a diversity of styles and media by artists of local, national and international acclaim. In addition to six light artworks featured in Illuminate SF by artists Ned Kahn, Eric Staller, Vito Acconci, James Carpenter, Keith Sonnier and Merge Conceptual Design, SFO exhibits works by top Bay Area artistic talents like Wayne Thiebaud, James Torlakson, Roy De Forest, Hassel Smith and Lee Mullican, all of whom can be found in the collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, as well as works by international art stars like Arnaldo Pomodoro and Seiji Kunishima. All works in the Civic Art Collection sited at SFO are provided by the San Francisco Arts Commission, through the City’s percent-for-art program.

Six Must-See Light Art Works Featured in Illuminate SF

Hours and availability depend on airport and airline operations. Artwork located beyond security checkpoints can be seen by ticketed passengers in these boarding areas. View the SFO art collection online and download the multi-page PDF with art map to learn more about the artworks, and the artist who made them.

1. Wind Portal by Ned Kahn – 200,000 mirrored stainless steel disks responds to air currents, creating an ever-changing mosaic of light, sculpted by the wind. You’ll find it between the BART Station and AirTrain near the International Terminal escalator.

2. Four Sculptural Light Reflectors by James Carpenter – Inspired by the construction of the Wright brothers’ first airplane, the suspended sculpture's design diffuses direct sunlight from the skylights, which reflects light up onto the opaque surface of the roof. Pre-Security in the International Terminal, Main Hall, Level 3.

3. Light Beams for the Sky of a Transfer Corridor by Vito Acconci – Sculptural beams of light from recessed lighting in the ceiling above transverse the length of the corridor. Pre-Security in International Terminal, A-G, Level 2.

4. Sky by Merge Conceptual Design – Each mirrored sphere's exterior reflects and distorts its surroundings, as subtle shifts in light and color create an optical effect inside each sphere. Post-Security in Terminal 3, Boarding Area E, Level 2. (Restricted Access).

5. Spirogyrate by Eric Staller – An immersive, interactive installation composed of graphic spiral patterns and light respond to people’s movement through space. Post-Security in Terminal 3, Boarding Area E, Level 2. (Restricted Access).

6. Ceiling Flood by Keith Sonnier – Evenly spaced blue and red neon integrate with a line of neutral light, above which a strategically placed line of neon provides a subtle “yellow glow" down the length of the ceiling. Post-Security in International Terminal, Boarding Area G, Level 2. (Restricted Access).

Expanding the Definition of What a Museum Can Be

In addition to its public art collection, SFO hosts more than 20 galleries with art, science, historical and cultural themes, including a dedicated Aviation Museum and Library as well as rotating Exhibits, so you can come today and again in six months to see different works.

Artists are drawn to the vast, diverse audience that the airport attracts; 50 million passengers pass through SFO annually, while San Francisco Museum of Modern Art welcomes an average of about 700,000 visitors a year.

Don’t Miss SFO’s Stunning “Glass Waterfall”

Completed in May 2015, the new SFO Traffic Control Tower ascends 221 feet skyward in a graceful flare. The control tower's west face features an LED-backlit glass waterfall that stretches 147’ in the air – reflecting sunlight during the day and glowing with interior lighting at night, the colors of which can be changed to celebrate important events.

Located between Terminals 1 and 2, the tower can be seen from the freeway and upon driving into the airport. To see it close up, stand in the Pre-Security Public Corridor at the base of the tower. Look straight up through the skylight glass roof to enjoy the LED light waterfall. Designed to achieve LEED Gold status by airport master architecture firm HNTB, with design partner Fentress Architects, and Hensel Phelps on the design-build team.

Learn more at illuminatesf.com.

Sonoma Canopy Tours adds ‘Tree Top Flight’

Zip through the treetops at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour on the new Tree Tops Flight zip line course at Sonoma Canopy Tours in Occidental, in western Sonoma County.

You’ll be fitted with a specially designed harness, and the zip line lets the magic of gravity do all the work. Created as a way to perform scientific research in remote jungles and other previously inaccessible places, zip lines are increasingly popular as a high-adventure way to experience nature from a truly different perspective.

A revamped version of the former Challenger course, the Tree Tops Flight soars high overhead, with faster and longer zip lines. On other elements of the course you can savor breathtaking views of the majestic redwood forest at a leisurely pace.

Sonoma Canopy Tours also offers its Forest Flight (formerly called the Classic Course) for daytime, sunset, or nighttime trips.

Sonoma Canopy Tours

6250 Bohemian Highway
Occidental, CA 95465
888-494-7868
www.sonomacanopytours.com

KIDTOPIA FESTIVAL RETURNS FOR ANOTHER YEAR OF MUSIC, MAGIC AND KIDDY MAYHEM

With electrifying live shows, music and comedy, hair-raising amusement rides, interactive activities, workshops and yummy food, Kidtopia Festival,presented by Qantas Assure returns to Parramatta Park this October school holidays, promising a smorgasbord of entertainment and activities to ignite the excitement in all on Friday 06 – Sunday 08 October, 2017.

The festival's first line up announcement features a wide range of entertainment from live bands, circus, comedy and tricks. The Kidtopia Sound Stage features Hillbilly rascal band The Pigs alongside junk percussion group Junkyard Beats and Samson from Justice Crew's Base 181 school dance team.

Brisbane's Hoopla Clique bring their acrobatic show CHORES!, exploring just how many tricks two brothers can do while not cleaning their room, teenage junior magic champions Cardistry dazzle with card tricks and magic, while comedian Dr Professor Neal Portenza brings his absurdist stand up show as seen on ABC 3's Stand and Deliver. Hit live reptile show Crocodile Encounters returns with more acts to be announced soon.

This year's event will feature the addition of an all-new performance area, with La Petite Grand presenting the world's best circus, daredevil and comedy acts with a rotating daily program inside a purpose-built big top stage. Interactive art space Craftworks will return along with Kidtopia's dedicated space for under 5's, Littletopia, and live animals, nightly films, games and amusements.

Masterclasses return with a program including workshops in Dance (with Base 181), Coding in partnership with Code Camp, Magic, Percussion skills and our ever-popular Slime, Sherbet & Giant Bubbles classes.

To encourage the benefits of keeping active, Qantas Assure – who offer insurance and a wellness rewards program – will be hosting games, a jumping castle and more in the Qantas Assure Arena. Meanwhile, parents who download the Qantas Assure App will be able to enjoy a sense of wellbeing and relax in the Qantas lounge experience that’s being recreated in the park. There will also be plenty of giveaways to reward activity tracked via the Qantas Assure App on the day.

Don't miss out on the cheapest tickets to the Festival, with Early Bird tickets on sale now. Early Bird tickets offer 50% off the final release price, with prices ranging from $10-$15 and entry for kids under 5 free. Book your tickets now!

Festival Director Cory Watson says this year’s event will be bigger and better than the last, with a program that's full of excitement for all the whole family. “We’re going all out with this year’s Festival. More amusement rides, an extra stage in La Petite Grande for incredible live performances and bigger and better world-class entertainment and interactive experiences.”

Last year’s Kidtopia Festival was a resounding success and saw families from all over NSW converge on Parramatta Park for three days of adventure and entertainment.

Kidtopia Festival, Sydney’s biggest and coolest family event specifically curated to appeal to adults and kids, is jam-packed with every type of creative and crazy fun you can think of – from amusement rides, live music, masterclasses, performances, market stalls and more, the Festival is a must for adventurous families looking for a quality school holiday experience.

KIDTOPIA

When: Friday 06 – Sunday 08 October
Where: Parramatta Park, Parramatta
More info: www.kidtopiafestival.com.au

BYROADS TRAVEL REVEALS SECRETS OF SRI LANKA

Buddha Statue Polonnaruwa Leoks/shutterstock.com
For centuries a magnet from around the world for its gems, pearls, spices and tea, Sri Lanka boasts as many secrets as treasures, many revealed on a Byroads TravelSecrets of Sri Lanka 13-day tour.

Designed for small groups, this tour – March 15-27, 2018 – begins in the capital Colombo and covers such sought-after sights as the cave temples at Dumbulla and the ancient ruins at Polonnaruwa, not forgetting the spectacular rock citadel at Sigiriya.

Led by Byroads Travel’s Steve Mortimer, who with 30 years’ experience has visited more than 100 countries, the Secrets of Sri Lanka tour passes through the scenic Knuckles Range to the old Sinhalese capital at Kandy.

The breathtaking highlands at Nuwara Eliya, in the heart of the tea growing industry, are also visited along with scenic hill town Ella, the tallest Buddha statue in the world and Ude Walawe National Park, Sri Lanka’s premier elephant reserve.

The tour also covers the much-celebrated south coast and its beaches and resorts, the highlight being Galle, a perennial favourite among many, before returning to Colombo.

The tour, limited to 16 passengers, is priced from USD3695 per person, twin share (about AUD$4860). Return air fares from Australia are extra.

Details: Phone Byroads Travel on (02) 9357 6800 or visit www.byroads.com.au