Thursday, 19 October 2017


Each month, we offer a few seasonal suggestions for things to do in San Francisco. This month, we are going a bit further and planting some ideas for the perfect fall frolic, whether you prefer to go wine tasting or visit a pumpkin patch.

Because of ongoing fires in parts of Napa and Sonoma counties, some events listed here may be cancelled and/or delayed. Check with event sponsors before making plans.
East of San Francisco

Well known by visitors to San Francisco, Hornblower Cruises & Events also has an East Bay berth at the Berkeley Marina. Locals favor it for special events—everything from a Sweet 16 celebration to a class reunion. Check out their holiday cruises, too. If you want a break from Thanksgiving Day cooking, the Thanksgiving buffet cruise offers three different entrees and, of course, all the usual fixings.

Just two-and-a-half hours east of San Francisco, Tuolumne County is in the heart of the Gold Country and is the Bay Area’s “front door” to Yosemite National Park. This time of year, don’t miss Columbia State Park’s harvest festival and Railtown 1897’s Harvest Haunt Express in October.

Visitors to the Central Valley town of Stockton might be surprised to discover the Stockton Cambodian Buddhist Temple (Wat Dharmararam), an active Buddhist temple that features more than 90 colorful and larger than life jewel encrusted statues, including a 50-foot-long recumbent Buddha.
North of San Francisco

For wine buffs this time of year is known as the “crush.” Just drive through the wine country, roll down the car window and inhale. You'll know exactly what we’re talking about. There are dozens of special events celebrating the annual harvest, from barn dances to outdoor dining events such as Calistoga’s Harvest Table in mid-September, when more than a dozen local restaurants serve guests seated at a 1,000-foot-long (305 m) table. In early September, Sonoma has its annual Crush event, and November brings a Wine & Food Affair to the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys.

Feeling lucky? Head to Graton Resort & Casino in Rohnert Park. This full-amenity gaming resort offers slots and video poker along with an array of table games. Beyond the great gaming, there’s 12 restaurants and a 200-guest room hotel.

Get SMART. That’s right, Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) is ready to roll as of Aug. 25, 2017. Golden Gate Transit (Route 70) from San Francisco will get you to the nearest terminal which is located in San Rafael. The rail service makes stops in historic Petaluma, Sonomaand Santa Rosa. Santa Rosa is home to the Charles M. Schulz Museum where “Mud Pies and Jelly Beans: The Flavor of Peanuts” opens on Sept. 16, 2017. For transit information call 415-455-2000 or 511 within the San Francisco Bay Area.

Tickets are already available for the annual Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF) in November. Ranked among the top 10 film festivals in the U.S. by USA Today, the five-day event showcases some of the best new independent films, and wines are available from more than 100 wineries.
South of San Francisco

Half Moon Bay, on the San Mateo coast, is the “Pumpkin Capital” of the world. What makes it so gorgeously ghordish? Well, for one thing, the Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off. Last year’s titanic orb tipped the scales at 1,910 pounds (866 kg). The weekend after is when all orange breaks out with the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival. Get inspired by the “Picasso of pumpkin carvers” sculpting pumpkins into masterpieces, harvest-inspired crafts, music and, of course, delicious slices of pumpkin pie.

Monterey County tunes up for the annual Monterey Jazz Festival in September. The longest, continuously-running annual jazz event in the whole wide world began here in 1958. Featuring more than 500 performers on eight stages, it draws 38,000-plus fans to the Monterey County Fair and Event Center. Be sure to include a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, too. With nearly 200 exhibits in all, the Aquarium is a showcase for the habitats and sea life of one of the world's richest marine regions.

San Jose has the largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam and one of the three remaining Japantowns in the U.S.; the other two are located in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, it is also home to the Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum and the mystifying Winchester Mystery House.

Football season is nigh and the San Francisco 49ers will play their first regular season game on Sept. 10 against the Carolina Panthers. If you happen to be near Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium on a non-game day, visit the 49ers museum, which is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday-Monday. Not into football? How about Coldplay’s “A Head Full of Dreams Tour,” which arrives here on Oct. 4, 2017?

Still got room on your “to do” list? Be sure to check out our guide or visit one of our Visitors Information Centers before you hit the road. They are located at 900 Market St., in the Cellar level of Macy’s Union Square and at the California Welcome Center, PIER 39.

Beautiful China ‐‐ World Heritage Tourism Promotion Event in NYC

On October 12, 2017, China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) hosted Beautiful China, a World Heritage tourism promotion event, at Club 101 in midtown Manhattan. 

Intended to showcase China’s 52 UNESCO World Heritage sites to current and potential partners in the U.S., the event featured a presentation by Samantha Brown of PBS, who told stories from her travels in China and conveyed her unique perspectives on the World Heritage sites. 

There was also be self-directed interactive touch-screen displays to allow attendees to virtually appreciate the beauty of the sites, as well as demonstrations of traditional Chinese paper-cutting and calligraphy and a themed TapSnap photo booth to round out the memorable fun. 

What’s New for Event Experts at The Langham, Melbourne? Three New Enticing Options are Now Available

The Langham, Melbourne
The Langham, Melbourne thrives on innovation and efficiency. To help event organisers excel, The Langham, Melbourne has launched three new initiatives to help function professionals exceed their clients’ and guests’ expectations.

1. As part of its commitment to provide luxurious venues for Melbourne events, The Langham, Melbourne offers a “No Strings Attached” pledge for corporate bookings made until Sunday 31 December for events in 2018. Besides waived cancellation terms and Internet charges, corporate groups will enjoy exclusive benefits such as no attrition rate charges and zero food and beverage minimum for function rooms such as Swanston room, Yarra room and Flinders room.

2. The Langham, Melbourne’s renowned Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood is now available as a high tea for functions. $80.00 per person includes traditional tiered tea stands laden with scones, premium ribbon sandwiches and decadent Earl Grey macarons, miniature chocolate mousse, on trend matcha, yuzu and green tea sponge cake as well as a tiny house-made forest mushroom pie.

3. Conference, incentive and event organisers can now opt to arrange lunch at Melba Restaurant where diners can choose from fresh seafood, sashimi and sushi plated to order, Indian curries, steaks and pasta dishes made to order, Melba’s famous five spice roast duck, salads, cheese station, dessert buffet and more. Melba Restaurant ensures every diner creates their own meal and is a sure-fire people pleaser that also keeps events running on time and on budget.

Plus, The Langham, Melbourne’s Director of Sales & Marketing, André Jacques, is pleased to announce the appointment of Mandarin-speaking Zoe Zou as the hotel’s new Business Development Manager. Ms Zou will focus on looking after the hotel’s Chinese and Malaysian corporate and MICE clients based in Australia and overseas.

The Langham, Melbourne continues to offer guests service with poise, timeless art and design and captivating experiences.

For more information or to take advantage of any of these offers, please contact our sales team at (+61 3) 8696 8041 or email

Reopening of Japanese resort on the main island of Honshu has teamed up with an Australian Snowsports Direct who has been selected to operate an International Ski School at the Lotte Arai Resort that's re-opening mid-December

Tom Langtry is very excited with the reopening of Lotte Aria Resort (previously known as Arai Mountain Resort and Spa) after it was closed for more than 11 years. It is very close to his Snowsports School at Myoko Kogen where he employs instructors from about seven or eight different countries.

An extension of the main train route from Tokyo via Nagano is another plus for Australian skiers and snowboarders seeking an alternative to the popular snow resorts on the main island of Honshu. The Joetsu-Myoko Station is about a 15 to 20-minute Free shuttle to the Lotto Arai Resort.

Another addition to the resort’s attributes, apart from the refurbishment of its well-located hotels, is an expansion of non-groomed inbound terrain that offers superb opportunities to schuss untracked powder Japan is so famous for

Its proximity to the coast ensures an abundance of fresh powder during the winter season—perhaps even more so than Myoko Kogen which is further inland. For whatever reason this resort closed back in 2006 it wasn’t a lack of snow is offering packages at The Arai (149 rooms) and The Lodge (108 rooms) two key properties at Lotte Arai Resort that is aiming to become "Asia's best ski resort".

For more resort details

The race is on - keep voting for the wonderful Whitsundays!

The Whitsundays is in the running to win a major accolade – but we need your help!

The Whitsundays is currently top in the annual Experience Oz ‘Australia's Top 10 Destinations to Experience’ poll, which asks international travellers and domestic visitors to vote for their favourite spot in Australia.

But the line-up is tight, with the Whitsundays just 6.2 per cent ahead of its close neighbour Mackay, just south of the Whitsundays.

Regional Tourism Organisation Tourism Whitsundays is urging everyone to jump online and vote to ensure the Whitsundays maintains its crown. Last year, the Whitsundays romped home with voters naming it the number one spot in Australia to experience.

So far this year, the Whitsundays have 22.5 per cent of the vote and Mackay has 16.3 per cent. Also ranking in the top 5 currently are The Kimberley, Ballarat and Newcastle.

Tourism Whitsundays CEO Craig Turner said the race was on for the top spot and it was important for people to have their say if they hadn’t already voted.

“We can’t let Mackay beat us – much as we love our neighbours down the road,” he said laughingly.

“The Whitsundays took out top spot last year and it would be great to win it again this year.

We know the Whitsundays is the best destination in Australia - it doesn’t surprise us that a lot of other destinations are competing with us – but we are a destination that has something for everyone.

“The Whitsundays appeals to independent travellers, families, couples and honeymooners, and offers access to the 74 Whitsunday Islands, Whitehaven Beach and the Great Barrier Reef, including Heart Reef, which can only be seen in the Whitsundays.

“We also have more than 600,000 bed-nights on the ocean every year, magnificent barramundi fishing in Lake Proserpine and a reef you can walk to from Bowen.”

Voting closes at 11.59pm on Monday October 23. 

Visit to cast your vote. Voters also have the chance to win an epic trip to one of Australia's top destinations.

The Whitsundays has ranked in the top three spots in every ‘Australia's Top 10 Destinations to Experience’ poll since its inception.

Last year, Whitsunday Island was also voted the number one island to experience in the poll, which is run by Experience Oz, the premier website for travel experiences in Australia.

To find out more about the Whitsundays and to book your next tropical escape, visit Tourism Whitsundays website

Celebrate the Holidays at The Westin St. Francis

Featuring Two Magnificent Castles, A Sweet Boutique, Special Holiday Meals & Overnight Packages Sure to Inspire the Spirit of the Season

Guests and visitors will delight in holiday pleasures this winter season at the legendary Westin St. Francis. This year’s highly anticipated holiday display will feature the legendary 12-feet tall Medieval Sugar Castle and the spectacular St. Francis Enchanted Castle. The popular St. Francis Sweet Boutique will be filled with tasty treats, and gorgeous holiday décor will adorn both lobbies. All of this, combined with traditional holiday tea service, delicious meals, and fun hotel packages create the perfect seasonal getaway to San Francisco. Located in the heart of San Francisco’s Union Square, spectacular holiday shopping, a ride on a historic cable car and ice skating at the Safeway Holiday Ice Rink are just steps away.

Guests and visitors will have the opportunity to spread some holiday cheer by donating to American Red Cross, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Tenderloin Neighborhood Development and Muttville Senior Dog Rescue. Bright green donation boxes located around the Medieval Sugar Castle in the Landmark Lobby will be on display from November 22 - January 2.

Below is the large array of festivities to enjoy at The Westin St. Francis this holiday season.


On November 22 at 11 a.m., Executive Pastry Chef Jean-Francois Houdré and his team will unveil not one, but two one-of-a-kind handcrafted castles in the Landmark Lobby. In celebration of hotel tradition is the stunning 12-ft. Medieval Sugar Castle, originally created in 2005. Resembling a French Chateau inspired by Chef Houdre’s travels, this life-like magical castle features grand circular towers, individual rooms and colourful illuminated windows.

Adding a touch of modernity, the St. Francis Enchanted Castle showcases a winter wonderland of elaborate gift boxes, gingerbread trees and brilliantly coloured candies, all intricately handmade with sugar and pastry. Elves can be spotted climbing all the way up to a towering sugar castle.

This exciting event is open to the public and will feature complimentary coffee and tray-passed cookies. On display through January 2.


Visions of sugarplums will come to life when The Westin St. Francis opens its uber-popular St. Francis Sweet Boutique for the holiday season. Located in the Landmark Lobby, Executive Pastry Chef Jean-Francois Houdré and his team will satisfy sweet tooths with a selection of freshly baked decorative cookies, orange-scented shortbread, gingerbread men, holiday Parisian macarons and rice crispy treats, all available for purchase. For those who want to take home some extra goodies, boxes of Chef Houdre’s famous macarons and assorted holiday cookies are available for purchase including a surprise “special of the day.” Open Saturdays and Sundays from November 25 - December 23; 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.


On November 23, The Westin St. Francis will be transformed into a joyful oasis, embellished with spectacular holiday decorations. The historic Landmark Lobby will be adorned with a large illuminated tree and two incredible sugar castles. The Tower Lobby will have a 20-feet tree with 10,000 LED lights to illuminate green and gold gift boxes and historic images of years past. Santa’s sleigh, filled with an assortment of decorative gift boxes, and glistening holiday décor will garnish the front desk area. Large wreaths embellished with lights and ornaments will be displayed throughout the hotel. On display through January 2.


Make it a holiday tradition to enjoy a luxurious overnight stay at The Westin St. Francis. Choose from a selection of festive holiday packages or enjoy a special holiday rate starting at just $179 per night. Below is a sampling of holiday packages available. For additional packages and to make reservations, call (866) 716-8108 or visit All packages and promotional rates exclude tax and are based upon availability.

Magical Cable Car Package

Experience the sights and sounds of San Francisco’s holiday festivities aboard a famous cable car! Enjoy a one-night stay, two San Francisco cable car passes, and complimentary wifi access. Rates start at $189 per night. Two cable car passes per room, per stay. No expiration date.

Family Holiday Package

The holiday season is the perfect time to plan a family vacation to San Francisco and there’s no better place to stay than right on Union Square just steps from the grand Macy’s Christmas Tree and Safeway Ice Skating Rink. Families will enjoy overnight accommodations, 25% off a second room for children under 21 years old, and complimentary meals from the Eat Well Menu with the purchase of an adult meal (one complimentary kids meal per purchased adult meal; available for children 12 and under). Guest will also receive a voucher (redeemable at Caruso’s only) towards a specialty bag of cookies. Rates start at $209 per night. No expiration date.

Macy’s Holiday Shopping Package

What’s better than a fun day of holiday shopping followed by a comfortable overnight stay in the heart of SF? The Holiday Shopping Package features a $100 gift certificate to the west coast’s largest Macy’s, located just steps from the hotel, a one-night stay, plus an adorable keepsake Ghirardelli cable car ornament. Rates start at $269 per night. Includes one $100 Macy’s gift card per night (issued upon check-in).


St. Francis Holiday Tea

November 25–December 17; Available Saturdays & Sundays only, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Begin this elegant tea experience with a choice of fine artisan teas from Mighty Leaf or Red Blossom Tea Company, followed by a selection of English tea sandwiches, freshly baked black currant scones and seasonal berries with Devonshire-blend cream, preserves and assorted petit fours. Guests may also choose the Royal Tea that includes the complete tea service with a glass of Gloria Ferrer Brut sparkling wine. Cost: $60 Adults Complete Tea; $68 with Red Blossom Tea; $72 Adults Royal Tea; $75 with Red Blossom Tea; $40 for children 12 and under for regular tea. Reservations are required. Please be sure to book early. For reservations, call (415) 774-0264.


The Westin St. Francis is featuring several delicious holiday meals prepared by Executive Chef Bernd Liebergesell and his culinary team served in the historic Oak Room Restaurant. For holiday dining reservations, call (415) 774-0264.

Thanksgiving Buffet

November 23; 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Bring together family and friends to relax and indulge in a Thanksgiving buffet filled with a vast array of appetizers, roasted meats, fresh seafood, an assortment of salads and mouthwatering desserts. A sampling of items includes roasted salmon, potato and leek veloute with truffle essence; specialty cured meats, cheeses, vegetables and artisan breads; Alaskan snow crab, chilled poached prawns; a selection of salads. A carving station will offer succulent pork loin, roasted turkey and prime rib. Afterwards, guests can indulge in the dessert buffet featuring crème brulee, Parisian macarons, chocolate espresso cake and more. Cost: $110 Adults; $50 Children 12 and under (free for ages three and under).

Christmas Buffet

December 25; 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Enjoy a Christmas feast in The Oak Room Restaurant with a delicious buffet overflowing with scrumptious appetizers, salads, seafood and of course, dessert. Offering countless tantalizing choices for every taste, a sampling of items include an antipasto display, cheeses and artisan breads, seafood favourites such as marinated mussels, Alaskan snow crab and smoked salmon, along with seasonal salads. Additionally, guests have a choice of holiday favourites including roasted Pacific salmon, prime rib, roasted turkey, and pork loin. A delicious dessert buffet completes the feast. Cost: $110 Adults; $50 Children 12 and under (free for ages three and under). The Oak Room Restaurant will also be open for breakfast from 6:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

About The Westin St. Francis

Opened more than a century ago on March 21, 1904, The Westin St. Francis still today maintains its preeminence as San Francisco's center of social, theatrical and business life. Renowned for luxury accommodations and excellent service, The Westin St. Francis continues to preserve its rich history and elegance while enhancing the guest experience with fresh, innovative concepts. The only hotel located on San Francisco’s famous Union Square, The Westin St. Francis is just steps from world class shopping, dining, theatres and art galleries. For reservations and more information, call (415) 397-7000, toll free (800) 917-7458 or visit

Westin Hotels & Resorts

Westin Hotels & Resorts, a leader in wellness and hospitality for more than a decade, lives its philosophy “For a Better You™” through the brand’s Six Pillars of Well-Being: Feel Well, Work Well, Move Well, Eat Well, Sleep Well and Play Well. At more than 200 hotels and resorts in nearly 40 countries and territories, guests can experience offerings that include the iconic Heavenly® Bed, RunWESTIN™ and Westin Gear Lending with New Balance®, delicious and nutritious SuperFoodsRx™ an the innovative workspace Tangent. Westin is proud to participate in the industry’s award-winning loyalty program, Starwood Preferred Guest®. Members can now link accounts with Marriott Rewards®, which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® at for instant elite status matching and unlimited points transfer. To learn more, visit

Parkes Elvis Festival

Bring the family and kick off the Festival in style at the Elvis at the Trots meeting hosted by Parkes Harness Racing Club on Wed 10 Jan. 

Live entertainment with Brendon Chase! Gates open at 6pm, entry $10. Parkes Showground.

#parkeselvis #68comeback


No trip to Hiroshima would be complete without a visit to Hiroshima's two World Heritage Sites - Itsukushima Shrine and Atomic Bomb Dome. 

Following this itinerary, you can explore the majestic Itsukushima Shrine and the vermilion o-torii gate floating in the water, the Atomic Bomb Dome, and other nearby tourist attractions. 

When you visit Hiroshima, don't miss out on the opportunity to see these amazing World Heritage Sites. 

For more information, you can check out the following website:…/…/itinerary/itinerary01.html

Carnival Cruise Line Celebrates 5 Years in Australia with Largest Conga Line At Sea

Carnival Cruise Line celebrated its fifth anniversary in Australia with the world’s longest conga line at sea, marking the first ever World Conga Day™. Over 60,000 guests took part in the Carnival Conga over the past week, which travelled across 25 Carnival ships, via 13 countries, 7 time zones, spanning over 16,000 kilometres.

Carnival has also commissioned ‘Carnival Conga’, a song released especially for the occasion with all proceeds from the sale of the catchy tune going to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. The release of Carnival Conga is a first for any cruise line globally and can be downloaded from all leading platforms, including, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Play.

Carnival Spirit sailed into the iconic Sydney Harbour this morning at 6.30am with over 1,500 guests and crew ‘conga-ing’ on the top deck at sunrise - five years to the day since she arrived through the heads for the first time in 2012. Captain Vittorio Marchi and on-board characters, Dr Seuss’ Cat In The Hat, Thing 1 and Thing 2, also joined in on the fun.

This global event started in Florida on October 10 and from here, the Carnival Conga island hopped through the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, before traveling over to the Pacific. From the Pacific, the Conga then passed from the Mexican Riviera to Carnival Legend in the Coral Sea, with the Conga craziness arriving onto Carnival Spirit this morning.

From this year forward, Carnival Cruise Line want World Conga Day™ to be enjoyed not just by everyone onboard their ships but in Australia and around the world, as an excuse for people to leave their troubles behind – a holiday from all the worries of the world.

Carnival Cruise Line Vice President Australia and NZ, Jennifer Vandekreeke, said "We’re delighted that Carnival guests and crew from around the globe have joined together for a bit of fun to celebrate our five year anniversary in Australia. Since the arrival of Carnival Spirit in 2012, more than 750,000 Australians and Kiwis have enjoyed the fun of a Carnival Cruise. We’re excited by what the next five years will bring, especially given by 2020, we will have two ships sailing year-round from Australia.”

Australia is Carnival Cruise Line’s first international home-port outside of the U.S, with Carnival Spirit sailing year-round and Carnival Legend sailing seasonally. In 2020, the brand will have two ships sailing year-round from Australia.


· 10,272 Comedy Shows performed
· 37,101 guests saw a turtle at Amadee Island
· 138,133 rides down Green Thunder
· 11,511 Green Eggs and Ham Eaten
· 1,218,800 little umbrellas in poolside cocktails
· 719,368 kilos of Australian Watermelon served
· 209,483 kilos of Australian Pumpkin served
· 40,625 Olives served in Martinis
· 750,000 guests onboard

For more information and bookings call 13 31 94 or visit


Carnival Cruise Line is the largest cruise line in the world with more than four and a half million guests travelling every year. The cruise line has two ships deployed in Australia, Carnival Spirit – the largest and newest cruise ship to be based in Sydney year-round – and sister ship Carnival Legend, sailing from Sydney each summer. With 45 activities to enjoy each day, both ships offer fun-loving families and couples memorable and great value holidays.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Teotihuacan Treasures at the de Young Museum

On view Sept. 30, 2017 through Feb. 11, 2018 at the de Young Museum is Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire, the first significant exhibition on the ancient city on view in the United States in more than 20 years.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Teotihuacan is one of the world's most important archaeological locations and the most-visited within Mexico. Located 30 miles outside of modern-day Mexico City, Teotihuacan was the center of Mesoamerica and once covered close to eight square miles and had over 100,000 inhabitants at its peak in 400 CE.

Exhibit Information

Over 200 artifacts are featured in the exhibition, with many in the U.S. for the first time and others recently excavated. Objects on display include ritual and monumental items found in the three main pyramids at Teotihuacan: the Feathered Serpent, Sun, and Moon Pyramids. The ancient city's residential compounds will be represented through a presentation of stone and ceramic sculptures. A particular highlight is the de Young's collection of mural fragments, displayed alongside fragments from the same dwelling on loan from Mexico.

Teotihuacan is presented in collaboration with Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, as part of a longstanding partnership. In displaying a number of artifacts from various excavations and collections together, the exhibition provides a unique opportunity for visitors to learn about Teotihuacan and its importance to the region's history and culture.

General Information

Teotihuacan is on view Sept. 30, 2017, through Feb. 11, 2018, at the de Young, conveniently located in the heart of Golden Gate Park. For more information, and to purchase tickets, please visit the de Young online. Tickets to this special exhibit include general admission access. Groups of 10 or more may be eligible for special pricing and tours. For more information, see Group Sales at the de Young.

Free admission days for Teotihuacan are held each Wednesday in October, and Saturdays Oct. 14 and Nov. 11, made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. In addition, the de Young is hosting free community programming on-site, including Mexican-inspired live music, art demos, and film presentations in conjunction with the exhibition. Please visit the de Young's exhibition page for more information on scheduling and to register for free exhibition tickets.

Australian bush history

West of Sydney in the Murray Riverina region stands Mungo Woolshed. Like so many of Australia’s greatest woolsheds, Mungo Woolshed which dates back to the late 1800s tells an interesting story of our pioneering past, and the people who lived and managed the landscape before the arrival of white settlers. 

The ancient terrain surrounding Mungo Woolshed is steeped in Aboriginal history and tradition, and originally served as the meeting place for many communities including the Muthi Muthi, Nyiampaar and Barkinji. It’s a stark and arid landscape but one rich in archaeological treasures, including some of the oldest human remains ever found, belonging to the ‘Mungo Man and Mungo Lady’, dating back over 40,000 years.

Mungo station was originally part of Gol Gol Station which was later divided and renamed Mungo Station. After the property was established many of the Aboriginal people in the area were displaced and moved from their land. They went to work on the station, as well as on the properties surrounding it as trackers, general hands and boundary riders, as well as domestic help. In return they received tobacco, sugar and blankets as well as western clothing.

These indigenous Australians soon faced more unasked-for change. Chinese workers who had relocated to Australia for the Gold Rush soon replaced these Aboriginal people. Many of the Aboriginal workers were gathered up and sent away to church missions, while the Chinese labourers went on to build the Mungo Woolshed and surrounding outbuildings in 1869.

The woolshed was built out of White Cypress trees. Local to the area, they repelled the dreaded termites that could chew through wood leaving ruined structures within months. This same timber was used throughout many properties in the area and across Australia. The woolshed walls were constructed from trimmed logs that were vertically stacked. Known as a drop-log construction it ensured that the building was cooler during warmer months, no doubt a trait appreciated by the 18 men that sheared about 50,000 sheep at its peak.

The name ‘Mungo’ has two possible origins, the Aboriginal word for Canoe in the area, ‘Mungoe’, or the patron saint of Glasgow, representing the Scottish ancestry of the original owner’s Ewan and Angus Cameron.

Today the area surrounding Mungo Woolshed is listed as a World Heritage Site and National Park. And while the woolshed still stands today as a demonstration of the quality of craftsmanship carried out by some of our early settlers, it is more importantly located within an extraordinary area. Part of the Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area, a chain of ancient dried-up lakebeds and sand dunes remind of us of an age-less land and the people that once roamed it.

Hoto-making is well-worth the experience whatever the time of year

No visit to Kofu is complete without trying ‘hoto’ – the region’s most well-known local food. Hoto consists of flat udon noodles and vegetables, served in miso soup, making for a warming, highly nutritious meal (the vegetables used differ from place to place).

Close to the area’s famous Shosenkyo Gorge is Hoto Kaikan - a restaurant-facility in which customers can make their very own hoto, under the friendly guidance of their experienced staff, making it ideal for even the absolute beginner. 

With the area’s natural beauty offering something different with each season - (Cherry Blossom, Azalea & Japanese Wild Parsley in Spring, fresh green leaves in Summer, red leaves in Autumn and stunning snow scenes in Winter) – hoto-making is well-worth the experience whatever the time of year. 

Please note that advance reservations are required. For price information, please contact Hoto Kaikan directly.

Shosenkyo Gorge Hoto Kaikan
Address: Kofu-City, Ikari-cho 393
TEL: 055-287-2131
Open: year-round
(This article is reprinted from JAPAN TIMELINE)

Chasing Waves On The Great Barrier Reef

Australian Champion Kitesurfer and Sunshine Coast local, Ben Wilson, has released a new documentary-style video on YouTube following his first-ever kitesurfing adventure to Queensland's Great Barrier Reef. The footage showcases secret surf breaks that form on the reef on rare occasions and which are known only to locals.

Kitesurfing on the Great Barrier Reef was a long-time dream for Ben who is well-accustomed to reef-pass breaks, holding the world record for kitesurfing the largest wave ever captured on film, Cloudbreak at 35-foot in Fiji.

When wind, swell and tides aligned in April this year, Ben and photographers Stu Gibson and Tom Rawlins raced 500km north of Brisbane to chase the waves off the coast of Gladstone.

"The feeling of kitesurfing the Southern Great Barrier Reef for the first time was just incredible,” he said. “It's everything you imagine it to be – blue water, schools of fish, nobody around and all lined with colourful coral.”

Ben, who has fished the Southern Great Barrier Reef for years, had heard rumours of remote waves that break off the reef under certain conditions; their exact location remaining a tight-lipped local secret.

"It took me about fifteen trips over two years, and dozens of conversations with locals, to plan this kitesurf mission. The preparation that went into it was intense, with safety a major concern.

“The rest was completely up to Mother Nature.”

Ben's Great Barrier Reef adventure was more than just kiting and when the wind dropped, he found himself more aware of his surroundings at one of the world's most beautiful places.

“The Great Barrier Reef is one of the natural wonders in the world - a place that people from all corners of the planet come to see.

"We snorkelled with turtles, saw dolphins play in the water and caught fresh emperor and coral trout for dinner.

“I can honestly say that this was the best part of the trip. We came to kitesurf but we took away so much more.

"It is amazing to think that this is in our backyard. You sometimes forget just how beautiful Queensland is. You are so focused on the next overseas trips that you overlook the incredible places right on your doorstep.

“I feel very blessed having been able to kitesurf the Great Barrier Reef.”

Ben sees a lot of potential for Queensland's reef breaks and is patiently waiting for the swell, winds and tides to align to film part two of his Great Barrier Reef kitesurf series that will focus on the action and waves in their biggest and best form.

“This is just the beginning,” he said.

Click here to view the video. Credit: Ben Wilson.


Niyama Private Islands
A Winter Wonderland of snow-white sands melting into a turquoise lagoon and never-ending Sapphire Ocean. Neon and fireworks lighting up the starry sky in a Countdown to the Surreal. Escape the mundane and live out the festive season with family, friends and lovers on the most exclusive of stages. Christmas and New Year at Niyama Private Islands celebrates revelry for all ages. With twin islands to explore at Nature’s Playground, we invite you to let loose and indulge, dining in treetops, partying under the waves, seeking out romance or adrenaline-filled adventures, playing or chilling to each island’s unique rhythms.

Enjoy a surreal Christmas of tropical cocktails and traditional carols. Celebrate with a Winter Wonderland feast, candles and mistletoe. Light up the ocean with a live coral Christmas tree unveiling in the days leading up to Christmas at Subsix, the world’s first underwater playground
and lounge. Positioned six metres below the waterline, the tree illuminates each night.

The New Year countdown promises to be our most exciting yet, with a special performance of Cats the Musical, a twilight feast overlooking the ocean, contemporary dance and opera performances, and a moonlit party on the beach to bring in 2018.

Activities for little VIPs and their families abound at the Explorers Kids’ Club throughout the holiday season. Catering for children from 12 months to 12 years of age, split into four age groups, little members can enjoy Christmas baking, ornament making, tree decorating and snowman building, as well as our signature experiences of guided snorkelling expeditions, water fights and more.

Teens and adults are invited to join the Active programme, with island exploring, dolphin watching, a host of beach sports and authentic Maldivian cultural activities on offer, and a romantic movie night under the stars.

Radiance is all the island rage this festive season. Visit the sublime Drift Spa by Niyama for some holiday magic, with non-surgical facelifts from Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. David Alessi and transformational rejuvenation from health and longevity expert Paulo Fernandes.

Book your escape to paradise now, and celebrate in unrivalled style. For the full festive season programme, visit or email

Iconic car rally for Tropical North Queensland

Targa Great Barrier Reef
Tropical North Queensland will host a new major tourism event for the next three years with the launch of Targa Great Barrier Reef, a three-day car rally that will see the field of around 200 cars visit all key regions, including Port Douglas, Innisfail and the Atherton Tablelands.

The new event, to be based in Cairns from 31 August to 2 September next year, is modelled on the world’s largest tarmac rally, Targa Tasmania, which has been held annually on the Apple Isle since making its debut in 1992.

Targa Great Barrier Reef will be a round of the four event CAMS Australian Targa Championship, which also includes Targa North West, Targa Tasmania, and Targa High Country in Victoria.

The extension of the series into Queensland was made possible through a three-year funding deal by Tourism & Events Queensland and Cairns Regional Council with series organiser, Targa Australia.

The two hundred cars expected to take part in the 2018 event will represent a cavalcade of motoring history from pre-war classics right through to the latest exotic supercars.

The cars will tackle 15 stages across more than 200 competitive kilometres on a course that covers more than 800 kilometres across Tropical North Queensland.

The event will start and finish each day in Cairns, with a Super Street Stage on the Saturday night bringing the action right into the heart of the city. Cairns will also host Targafest, where the cars are on display for fans to see close up, while regional towns will host a lunch stop each day which will see various local charities supported.

Underlining the scale of the event is the fact that more than 500 local officials and various community groups will be involved in its successful running.

Targa Australia Director, Mark Perry, is excited with the expansion of the championship.

“The secret to the long-term success of Targa Tasmania is that it is a tourism destination event built around a passion for the motor vehicle,” Perry said.

“It attracts people and their cars from right around Australia, and overseas. It’s a format that sees the event travel to the fans, stopping at a number of towns along the way, meaning it’s not just one town or one city that is the winner and our `stadium’ covers thousands of square kilometres of iconic landscapes that will showcase the region to the world.

“Targa is renowned for showcasing and bringing awareness to many of Australia’s iconic and important World Heritage Areas through its TV Specials, broadcast around the world, and will continue to do so with Targa Great Barrier Reef in highlighting the beauty and importance of preserving the Tropical North Queensland region.”

“Targa Tasmania attracts some beautiful cars from across the eras, and I’m sure many of those competitors will be drawn to this new event and others will enter now they have an event closer to home, along with also tapping into the lucrative Asian market due to the ease of travelling to Cairns.”

“Being part of a national championship will ensure all the top cars and factory teams are present, and they boast some incredible automotive pedigree and some absolutely awesome drivers.”

Queensland Tourism and Major Events Minister Kate Jones said she couldn’t wait to see Targa kick off in North Queensland. “With the backdrop of the Great Barrier Reef, this race will be an attractive proposition to Targa teams around the world,” she said.

“To have such an iconic sporting experience so close to one of Queensland’s most important natural assets will create a wonderful experience for teams and racegoers.

“Events like this deliver a valuable boost to the Tropical North Queensland economy – helping to attract visitors and support local jobs.

“I look forward to Targa becoming a permanent fixture on Queensland’s It’s Live! Event Calendar.”

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said Targa was an ideal fit for the region’s ever-growing sports event calendar.

“Targa Great Barrier Reef will not only be great for Cairns, but fantastic for our region,” Cr Manning said.

“Major events play an important role in promoting our destination, driving visitation, supporting jobs and fostering community pride.

“This is an iconic car race which will be set against an iconic backdrop – it is the perfect combination. We have a reputation of facilitating world-class events, and this will be no different.”

Tourism Tropical North Queensland Chief Executive Officer Pip Close said Targa Great Barrier Reef would showcase Cairns, Port Douglas, the Atherton Tablelands and the Cassowary Coast to a new audience around the world.

“We are seeing increasing numbers of Asian competitors at events like Ironman Asia-Pacific and the Great Barrier Reef Marathon and this event will further appeal to these markets,” she said.

“With new flights from China in December added to our direct connections from Singapore and Japan we have the opportunity to further grow Tropical North Queensland as an international sports event destination.”

Hands-Free Travel: Takayama to Matsumoto - Drop your bags and go on an adventur

Haven’t you ever felt it a heavy burden, travelling around carrying your big and heavy luggage such as suitcases and purchased items, and so on?

We have such a service in Japan.

Between Takayama and Matsumoto of SHORYUDO, we will carry out the service of delivering luggage on the same day from hotels to hotels until 15th November.

You will be free from the hardships of carrying your luggage by yourself, and you can enjoy Japan’s Mountain Resort Kamikochi etc.

Experience Hands-Free Travel and enjoy comfortable travel without a burden.

Much as we all love to travel, lugging around your luggage often takes away some of the glamour of the overall experience – something likely every traveller can relate to. Think of all the additional places you could go—and better enjoy—by being able to transfer your luggage between hotels!

This is the magic of Hands-Free Travel – a new service promising to deliver your luggage from hotel-to-hotel between Gifu's Takayama and Nagano's Matsumoto. The service operates between August 28th and November 15th 2017, which coincides with when Kamikochi—the mountain resort in Nagano—is open to visitors.

Transferring your luggage between hotels surely makes for a more comfortable, enjoyable traveling experience, so I decided to hit the Japanese Alps to experience the joys of hands-free travel, by experiencing the Takayama-Matsumoto route myself – minus the traditional luggage woes.

Day 1: Takayama

My first stop was Takayama – a beautifully preserved Edo Period traditional town in Gifu, to the west of the Japan Alps. The old streets here are a marvel to behold, and certainly easier to appreciate without luggage in tow! On arrival, I actually left my luggage at my hotel pre-check-in to go and freely wander the old streets.

Doing so opens up many opportunities: pop into the small sake breweries in the district, stroll around the quiet temples in the eastern Higashiyama area, snack on local delicacies (Hida beef sushi is an absolute highlight), or drop by the idyllic Takayama Jinya – a former government house from the Edo Period.

Day 2: Kamikochi + Hands-Free Travel

After a day in Takayama, I decided to follow a popular route east to Matsumoto in Nagano. A series of buses provides convenient travel through the mountains, passing by Kamikochi right in the middle.

Checking out of my hotel at Takayama Ouen, I requested to send my luggage hands-free to my destination hotel in Matsumoto. It was surprisingly quick and simple – providing my name, contact details and connecting hotel information, before paying the ¥3,000 fee (per item). Hands-Free Travel does the rest and lets you focus on having a good time. The staff apply several tags to your luggage (just like airport check-in) and provide you a delivery receipt to use later at your destination hotel.

It was a great feeling to be able to drop off my main luggage – providing a nice physical advantage not to mention a psychological boost ("Now I can go here and here and...").

Wishing to make the most of the day, I headed straight to Takayama Bus Center. They provide a convenient Alps Crossing Route Ticket (アルプス横断ルートきっぷ) for just 5,000 yen (or 2,500 yen for children) – which covers all buses between Takayama and Matsumoto and is valid for up to 4 days. This includes:
  • Bus from Takayama to Hirayu Onsen
  • Bus from Hirayu Onsen to Kamikochi
  • Bus from Kamikochi to Matsumoto*
*Some services end at Shinshimashima – but the route ticket includes a connecting train ticket to Matsumoto if required.

I changed buses at Hirayu Onsen town. Whilst there are plenty of buses throughout the day, I planned a 1 hour stopover to see the area and try the local hot spring at Hirayu-no-Mori. It simply wouldn't have been possible to do this with luggage in tow - simply loading/unloading from the bus eats up precious time! After a therapeutic yet quick soak in the sulphur baths surrounded by the valley's forest scenery, I dashed back to the bus stop for my onward service to Kamikochi.

Thirty minutes later, I arrived at Kamikochi – a magical destination in the heart of the Northern Alps. The entire area offers pristine, untouched nature and is one of Japan's top scenic spots. It is most well-known for the view of the Kappa Bridge spanning the clear, blue waters of the Azusa River, against a mountainous backdrop.

Stepping off the bus, I immediately started hiking towards the central area at Kappa Bridge (Pro tip: if you want to guarantee your spot on a return bus, grab a numbered ticket (seiriken) at the bus terminal upon presenting your ticket as soon as your arrive in Kamikochi).

With minimal luggage and being hands-free, I was able to plan a long, leisurely circular walking route along the Azusa River from the Kappa Bridge area down to the Hotaka Bridge. This left plenty of time for trying local snacks, taking plenty of riverside rest stops and photographing the nature.

Kamikochi is one of those places where not having to worry about your luggage really augments the experience and enhances your escape from reality. The environment here is beautiful and often you won't have to worry about crowds of tourists either. There are plenty of scenic spots to discover along the main walking routes – with many more to be found for those for venture further afield.

I could have stayed for longer but eventually made my way towards the Kamikochi Bus Terminal for my onward bus (the last direct bus to Matsumoto is at 16:45, though several later services can take you to Shinshimashima allowing you to take an onward train.)

After arriving in Matsumoto, I took a short walk to my hotel at Buena Vista Matsumoto and was greeted by the welcoming staff. They had my luggage ready and waiting for me which was easy to collect when checking-in – complete with souvenir tag serving as a reminder of the day.

My luggage was in perfect condition and transferred to my room by the friendly staff. It was remarkably great to see this Hands-Free Travel service working so well, with my luggage arriving at the hotel well ahead of me and the hotel staff at both ends comfortably handling my request.

Using this service didn't just transform the overall travel experience, it transformed the way I travel too – making me more adventurous, more curious and more focused on the experience, ultimately less concerned by things like timings, coin lockers and other common tourist worries.

The benefits of using the Hands-Free Travel service are clear: spend more time sightseeing, more time souvenir shopping, and more time having a thoroughly good time! Such was the positive experience of going 'hands-free', I would definitely continue to use this service whenever doing a similar trip in Japan from now on.

Day 3: Matsumoto

Having reached Matsumoto City, I was determined to see a little of the city before heading home towards Tokyo – luckily at this point I could leave my luggage at Hotel Buena Vista Matsumoto to hold for me until later in the day.

Matsumoto City is best known for the home to one of the best examples of one of Japan's original castles – with all wooden interior and external stonework having been carefully preserved over time. The black exterior gave rise to the nickname, the 'Crow Castle', while it proudly ranks among Japan's top castles, alongside Himeji and Kumamoto.

Popular in the cherry blossom season, the view from the Uzuhashi bridge (as above) creates a striking impression of this masterpiece. Other highlights across Matsumoto City include the traditional area of Nakamachi, with its rows of preserved white kura-style Japanese storehouses, as well as Nawate Street, a charming riverside street which is overrun by images and statues of frogs!

Participating Hotels
  • Takayama
  • Best Western Hotel Takayama
  • Country Hotel Takayama
  • Hida Hotel Plaza
  • Ryokan Seiryu
  • Ryokan Asunaro
  • Takayama Green Hotel
  • Takayama Ouan
  • Matsumoto
  • Ace Inn Matsumoto
  • Hotel Buena Vista
  • Matsumoto Marunouchi Hotel
  • Premier Hotel Cabin Matsumoto
  • Matsumoto Hotel Kagetsu
  • Tobira Onsen Myojinkan

Tuesday, 17 October 2017


The Ranch Restaurant & Saloon
Gathering a group for dinner is never an easy task, but these north Orange County restaurants make it easier than ever to relax with a drink in hand after an afternoon of meetings. Myriad options give planners the flexibility to reserve large tables or book private dining rooms for customizable experiences, all within 5 miles of the Anaheim Convention Center.

The Ranch Restaurant & Saloon

The high-end saloon and dance hall features an entire floor dedicated to private dining for groups of all sizes. Six different spaces can accommodate groups from 14 to 264, with amenities such as en-suite bars and kitchens and full AV systems with drop-down screens. /// 1025 E. Ball Road, Anaheim, CA 92805

Karl Strauss Brewing Co.

Menus for group events at this brewery-restaurant across from Angel Stadium are diverse, ranging from choose-your-own packages to buffet-style indulgence. Best of all are the customizable beverage packages, including a taster flight option with four 4-ounce brews that can be paired with menu choices. // 2390 E. Orangewood Ave., Ste. 100, Anaheim, CA 92806

The Fifth Anaheim

The Fifth Anaheim

The city’s only rooftop lounge and restaurant offer nightly views of Disneyland Resort’s dazzling fireworks display—a perfect backdrop for a group event that incorporates seasonal craft cocktails and entrees from a globally influenced menu. // 1650 S. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim, CA 92802

Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen

Bring a big group for a “Big Easy” ambience in the heart of Downtown Disney. Seven event spaces offer reception-style seating for up to 200 guests, plus extras like live jazz, balcony views and a selection of savory New Orleans Creole cuisine. // 1590 S. Disneyland Drive, Anaheim, CA 92802

The Matador Cantina

A completely private banquet space welcomes up to 82 seated guests with a full private bar, separate entrance, AV hookups and industrial-cool ambience.For smaller groups indulging a meal before a night out in downtown Fullerton, The Matador also offers prix-fixe packages with no room booking fees for parties of up to 30 in the lounge or heated patio. // 111 N. Harbor Blvd. Fullerton, CA 92832

An elegant evening out with the team starts in a private room on the second floor of Catal, overlooking Downtown Disney. Customize the menu of classics like steak and seafood for up to 35 guests and enjoy while faint strains of live music drift up from the plaza below. // 1580 Disneyland Drive, Anaheim, CA 92802

House of Blues Anaheim
Private dinners for up to 70 seated guests can be booked in the restaurant’s ultra-exclusive Foundation Room, a swanky VIP lounge typically open to members only. // 400 W. Disney Way, Ste. 337, Anaheim, CA 92802

FiRE + iCE Anaheim
Gather a group for an interactive, all-you-can-eat experience. Parties of up to 10 can reserve a table in the main dining room, but the expansive patio and fire pit can also be booked for larger functions. // 400 Disney Way, Anaheim, CA 92802

The Catch

Its location next door to Angels Stadium makes The Catch an ideal spot to grab a bite before a game. Larger groups can book a room with a private bar and AV equipment or request the seafood-and-steak restaurant’s sizeable patio overlooking Katella Avenue. // 2100 E. Katella Ave. #104, Anaheim, CA 92806

The Pint House

The Pint House

Groups of 20 to 60 people can book a private room at this American gastropub, which serves up speciality beer cocktails and shareable plates like heart attack fries. // 1547 W. Katella Ave. #102, Orange, CA 92867

Grasslands Meat Market

Enjoy platters of sizzling steak, brisket and barbecue shrimp in a rustic, barn-like dining room that can be separated into two rooms for private parties of varying size. Order from the regular menu or work with the chef to create a customized culinary experience such as a prix fixe buffet with a selection of flavorful meats. // 400 W. Disney Parkway #199, Anaheim, CA 92802

WORLD FOOD DAY: Research reveals Aussies love of #foodporn costing travellers up to $200K

It’s no secret Aussies love food, so much so there’s now an entire day dedicated to it - World Food Day. To mark World Food Day, Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) is urging travellers to put their safety before their foodie escapades, with research revealing #foodporn is costing travellers up to $200K

New research reveals the common culinary catastrophes abroad, and how their experimental eating overseas is leaving them with more than a dodgy tummy.

With the rising trend of Aussie’s jetting overseas for new foodie experiences, it’s no surprise some are putting themselves in hot water for their love of food.

Chris White, CEO of Southern Cross Travel Insurance, says:

“Holidays are a whirlwind of new people, places, experiences and food. As the research shows, Australia is a nation of foodies, with food and dining experiences becoming an increasingly popular part of many Aussies travel itineraries.

“However, with the promise of a tasty time, some travellers can get caught up in the experience and not look after their health, which can quickly turn into an expensive medical bill if they do not have the right insurance”

Key statistics

  • Aussies are willing to give anything a try on holiday
  • Food is a deal breaker for Aussies with 7% saying it’s critical to their holiday
  • 85% consider it an important factor when planning a holiday, with 37% selecting a destination purely for the food
  • 1 in 10 under 30’s consider food experiences a critical factor when choosing a holiday destination
  • 14% of Aussie millennials say they have had or would try grasshoppers while on holiday, compared to only a handful (3%) of over 65’s

Foodie holidays are having a moment

  • Underwater feasts, back alley dining, dining in the dark and treetop restaurants are just some of the foodie experiences Aussie travellers are embarking on overseas

Hospitalisation, restaurant scams and terrible customer service are just some of the foodie fails highlighted by the research

  • 1 in 10 Aussies have been hospitalised as a result of a bad food or drink experience
  • A staggering 27% Aussies said food and/or drink was the culprit for a bad overseas experience

Oxford Suites open in Rohnert Park, Sonoma County, California

Visitors to Sonoma County now have the option of staying in one of 163 spacious non-smoking suites at the new Oxford Suites Sonoma County — Rohnert Park. 

Extended stay and pet-friendly rooms are available at the five-story hotel, which also offers an on-site restaurant and lounge, a fitness center, electric vehicle chargers, and an outdoor cabana, pool, hot tub, sauna, and steam room. Complimentary amenities include a full hot breakfast buffet, evening reception, and high-speed Wi-Fi.

There are five unique indoor and outdoor meeting spaces totaling nearly 7,000 square feet. Event facilities accommodate up to 250 people, and A/V equipment is available. There’s also on-site catering, and a free shuttle to and from the Charles M. Schulz – Sonoma County Airport.

With the addition of the Rohnert Park location, Oxford Suites now boasts 17 hotels throughout California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. Following the corporate value of preserving the environment, the new Rohnert Park hotel uses LED lighting, a saline-based swimming pool and spa (maintained with natural materials), bulk amenities, high-efficiency appliances, tankless water coolers, automatic light sensors throughout the hotel, and an on-demand sanitizing system.

Oxford Suites Sonoma County – Rohnert Park
67 Golf Course Drive W.
Rohnert Park, CA 94928


The AFL Masters National Carnival will return to NSW next year for the first time since 2008 when Coffs Harbour welcomes more than 800 AFL players for the eight-day event.

The tournament, secured for the region by the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW, includes both a men’s and women’s competition and is the largest mass participation event for AFL players aged 35 years and over.

Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser said the event would bring significant economic benefit to the region.

“The AFL Masters National Carnival will attract around 1,200 players, officials and supporters to Coffs Harbour and contribute around $2.7 million to the local visitor economy,” Mr Fraser said.

The Carnival will run from 30 September to 6 October 2018.


Christian Mutschlechner,
Director of the Vienna Convention Bureau
at the Vienna Tourist Board,
receiving the award from Laurel Herman,
President and Editorial Director of the Prevue Magazine,
on behalf of the entire team.
The Vienna Convention Bureau has again been honoured with the Prevue Visionary Gold Award for “Best Convention Bureau experience”.

Laurel Herman, President and Editorial Director of the Prevue Magazine, states in her recognition: “Our readers, who are meeting and incentive professionals as well as Advisory Board for our Visionary Award, voted again, as in the previous year, for the Vienna Convention Bureau to be the best meeting destination support in the international market. This award is a great testament for the entire team of the Vienna Convention Bureau and distinguishes you as an industry leader in the meetings and incentive field”.

More than 38.000 readers have been invited to vote for the Prevue Visionary Award. The Visionary Award recognizes outstanding client orientation and service provision by a convention bureau. Prevue Magazine is one of the leading Meeting Industry Publications on the North American market. It provides corporate meeting and incentive planners with insightful group experiential and destination coverage.

The Award Winners have been announced at IMEX America, October 10 to 12, 2017 in Las Vegas.

Christian Mutschlechner, Director of the Vienna Convention Bureau, adds: “We are more than happy that the readers of Prevue voted for the Vienna Convention Bureau and that by their support, we achieved the first place in this category again. It recognizes the strong and ongoing effort of my whole team to deliver the best service to our customers planning events in Vienna.”

Further information:

Queensland’s experiences on stage for Korea

Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) will seek to grow a resurging Korean traveller market, showcasing a broad range of Queensland tourism experiences at a trade event being held today.

Chief Executive Officer Leanne Coddington said ‘Queensland on Stage Korea’ would gather 14 Korean trade partners together with Queensland tourism businesses to showcase the diversity of the state’s tourism products, increase Korean trade partners’ knowledge of our tourism experiences and ultimately encourage more Korean travellers to experience the best address on earth – Queensland.

Ms Coddington said visitation to Queensland from Korea had grown 18.3 per cent to the year ending June 2017, with 75,000 Korean travellers spending $226.7 million.

“We want to continue to build on this momentum, in line with the strategic priorities outlined in our Queensland Asia Tourism Strategy 2016-2025, and make Queensland the leading Australian destination for travellers from Asia,” Ms Coddington said.

“Delivered in partnership with Brisbane Marketing and Virgin Australia, the ‘Queensland on Stage Korea’ workshop provides Queensland operators and Korean travel agents with a platform to initiate and build on existing relationships, exchange product and market knowledge and enhance business opportunities.

“International market growth can only be achieved through collaboration between Queensland industry and our international trade and aviation partners, which is why this event is one of many trade events we stage each year.

“Participating travel agents representing 14 Korean travel companies including Mode Tour, Naeil Tour, Lotte JTB, Hana Tour Travel Center and Segyero Tour, as well as representatives from Korean Air, will also embark on pre- and post-familiarisation tours around the Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef regions, experiencing our unique tourism offerings first-hand.”

Brisbane Marketing Tourism and Major Events General Manager Ann-Maree Moon said Brisbane Marketing’s support of the event was part of a partnership with TEQ designed to grow visitation to Brisbane from the Korean market.

“Visitors from Korea to Brisbane grew by 14 per cent in the year until June 2017 and ‘Queensland on Stage Korea’ gives us the opportunity to continue to grow this market,” she said.

“The event enables us to showcase Brisbane’s tourism offerings to key travel and aviation companies who sell our destination to their customers back home in Korea.”

Virgin Australia General Manager Sales Ann Elliott said Virgin Australia was proud to support Queensland on Stage Korea and showcase our award-winning service and product to our Korean trade partners.

“We’ve recently joined BSP (the IATA Billing and Settlement Plan) in Korea which makes it even easier for our Korean travellers to book their Australian journey with Virgin Australia,” she said.

‘Queensland on Stage Korea’ will take place on 16 October, ahead of the commencement of a seasonal Jin Air Seoul - Cairns service from December 2017, and increased frequency on Korean Air’s Seoul - Brisbane services during the peak November 2017 - February 2018 period.

Participating Queensland operators:
  • Virgin Australia
  • Brisbane Marketing
  • Tangalooma Island Resort
  • Oaks Hotels & Resorts
  • Australian Sunset Safaris
  • Gold Coast Airport
  • Fire4Hire
  • Go Ride A Wave
  • The Star Gold Coast
  • Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Pacific Fair Shopping Centre
  • Watermark Hotel & Spa Gold Coast
  • Catch a Crab
  • Tropical Fruit World
  • Dreamworld / SkyPoint
  • Paradise Jet Boating
  • Village Roadshow Theme Parks
  • Visit Sunshine Coast
  • Australia Zoo
  • Hamilton Island
  • Skydive Australia
  • Raging Thunder Adventures

Secrets' Out #50 – Travel well while doing good… Here's How

Want to get more for your dollar and help save the world's richest reefs? From now until 31 December 2017 book a stay at Secret Retreats properties to help support Misool Foundation's marine conservation efforts and other community programmes.

For each night booked, the hotel will donate $1 USD to Misool Foundation and Secret Rerteats will match the donation with another $1 USD.

Secret Tables restaurants are also supporting the cause with every reservation made through the Secret Retreats Concierge.

Where are you travelling to? Start planning your stay with some of these hotel and restaurant options now!

Dedicated to protecting some of the world's richest reefs, Misool Foundation has made great strides in not only conserving the marine environment around the resort but helping it to truly flourish and even increase biomass. Click below to learn more.

For more information, offers and bookings contact the Secret Retreats Concierge at

Why book with SECRET RETREATS?

New era for Tourism Whitsundays following AGM

A new era in tourism has been heralded in, with a new board for the Whitsunday region’s local tourism organisation.

Tourism Whitsundays (TW) held its Annual General Meeting on Monday [October 16] and announced its new board, which will assist the marketing and visitor attraction agency with strategy and direction for the next 12 months.

The board represents a wide cross-section of businesses including tourism operators and also non-tourism businesses.

Al Grundy was again voted in as chairman in the email and postal ballot amongst TW’s member organisations.

Speaking at the AGM, held at Lure, Abell Point Marina, Mr Grundy said it has been an honour to represent Tourism Whitsundays during the past 12 months. He thanked outgoing board members and those board members remaining on the board serving their second year, and also congratulated the new board members.

“The board members give their time voluntarily to further the local tourism industry when they are already running their own businesses as well,” he said.

“Like most things, it is a group effort and we appreciate everyone’s efforts along the way, especially in this very challenging year.”

Tourism Whitsundays CEO Craig Turner said it had been a “massive effort” by everyone involved.

“We have only been a standalone organisation since April 1, last year [April 1, 2016] and the past 18 months have seen a massive effort by everyone - board members, TW staff, our stakeholders – to get our organisation back on track and also our tourism industry, following TC Debbie.

“As always, I can’t thank our partners enough for their support – Whitsunday Regional Council, Tourism and Events Queensland and the Queensland Government, who were there for us when we really needed them – and of course the Federal Government too.

“It has been a tough year but we have come through it and we will be stronger for it. There is a lot happening in the Whitsundays at present, with a lot of projects on the drawing board, and I think we are entering a new era, with many new opportunities coming our way.”

Attendees at the AGM were presented with the Annual Report from the past year including the financial statements before TW’s new board was announced.

Tourism Whitsundays is a not-for-profit, membership-based organisation that is responsible for marketing the destination in an effort to increase visitation, expenditure and dispersal across the Whitsundays.

TW is run by a team of staff, headed up by a CEO, and a board of 14 voluntary board members who provide strategic and long-term direction and represent the needs and interests of members.

Tourism Whitsundays is the Regional Tourism Organisation (RTO) for the Whitsundays and is recognised by the State Government as being the region’s lead, visitor attraction agency.

  • Matt Boileau
  • Jan Claxton
  • Jonathon Freeman
  • Al Grundy
  • Racheal Klitscher (ex officio)
  • Naomi McKinnon
  • Brooke Ogden
  • Judy Porter
  • Trevor Rees
  • Andrew Telford
  • Craig Turner (ex officio)
  • Karen Vloedmans
  • Greg Waites
  • Mayor Andrew Willcox (ex officio)

2017 Ikenobo Autumn “Tanabata” Exhibition

“Kyutanabata-e” is the largest and oldest Ikebana (Japanese traditional flower arrangement) Exhibition of Ikenobo. Over 1,500 ikebana arrangements will be displayed. Please come and visit the Exhibition.

Exhibition period and site

◆Nov. 8 (Wed) ~ 13 (Mon) at Exhibition Hall of Takashimaya Department Store in Kyoto
Open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm (Exhibition will be closed at 6:00 pm on Nov. 9, 11 and 13.)
◆Nov. 10 (Fri) ~ 13 (Mon) at Ikenobo Headquarters in Kyoto
Open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
◆Tickets can be purchased at the door 900 yen.
(Admission free for high school students or younger and visitors wearing Kimono)

Get SPECIAL COUPON and for details about 2017 Ikenobo Autumn “Tanabata” Exhibition, please visit:
*You can check our "Latest News" here :
*Official website "Kyoto Travel Guide" :


The HSBC Sydney 7s will be returning to the Harbour City in 2018, with capacity crowds expected at Allianz Stadium for the Australia Day weekend event.

NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall said, “The Sydney 7s has been secured by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.

“The 2017 event provided a huge boost to the local visitor economy, attracting more than 8,700 domestic and international overnight visitors to NSW, with a total visitor spend of over $6 million.”

Given the 2016 and 2017 Rugby 7s tournaments were both sell outs, fans are encouraged to get in fast to secure their tickets.

Tickets are on sale now.