Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Creativity to Shine at Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) is a unique three-day event that merges an art market with a celebration of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

CIAF is the only art fair in Australia to welcome commercial art galleries and Indigenous art centres to sell and showcase art by Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.

This year's celebration is located at the Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal, within walking distance of the CBD, where artists and gallerists will be on hand to talk about the work. We invite you to the many public talks and forums, including the CIAF Symposium, to hear leading Australian and international speakers, artists, and collectors discuss why Queensland Indigenous art is making such an impact.

Children and families can get involved in hands-on art activities and there is a great program of free Indigenous dance over the weekend.

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) is committed to providing an ethical marketplace for the sale and purchase of Queensland Indigenous art and supporting the career development of Queensland Indigenous artists.

In 2012 we invite you to come along and share the experience.

For more information click on thw website www.ciaf.com.au

Love Every Second of Sporting Sydney

Bledisloe Cup
Thrilling world-class events, physical pursuits and red-hot action are set to take over Sydney in the lead up to summer and there’s never been a better time to visit. Grab some mates and cheer on the Qantas Wallabies as they take on the All Blacks in the Bledisloe Cup, bond with the boys as you enjoy every nail-biting moment of the NRL Grand Final or challenge yourself to reach your own P.B. during the Sydney Running Festival. You’ll love every second of Sporting Sydney.

See it Live
The fiercely contested trans-Tasman showdown between the Qantas Wallabies and the All Blacks reaches new heights in 2012 during the inaugural Bledisloe Cup Festival Sydney. Supporters can meet the Wallabies during a fan day at Tumbalong Park on Saturday 12 August and see an extensive collection of rugby memorabilia at the ‘Rivalry in Rugby, Brothers in War’ exhibition at the Museum of Sydney. The week culminates in the Bledisloe Cup clash at ANZ Stadium on Saturday 18 August.

The live sports action continues after the Bledisloe Cup Festival Sydney with a jam-packed calendar of AFL, NRL and Spring Racing action.

- The Sydney Swans have been sitting atop of the AFL ladder and with the countdown on to finals the last home games for the year are sure to be sell-outs. See the Swans take on Collingwood during a blockbuster game at ANZ Stadium on Saturday 11 August before the team returns to the SCG to take on Hawthorn on Saturday 25 August.

Greater Western Sydney (GWS)
- Sydney’s new AFL team, the Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Giants, take on Port Adelaide on Saturday 4 August. Cheer on the GWS team as they play their final home game for 2012 at Skoda Stadium.

- NRL Grand Final fever takes over Sydney with a week-long celebration as the 2012 Rugby League competition reaches its exciting climax on Sunday 30 September at ANZ Stadium.

- The glamour, fashion and thrill of thoroughbred racing returns during the Spring Racing Carnival. Commencing on Saturday 1 September at Rosehill Racecourse the carnival continues until Saturday 10 November with feature races at both Rosehill and Royal Randwick racecourses.

- Firefighters from around the world will descend on Sydney during the World Firefighters Games. From 1-28 October, see the competitors in challenges including archery, wrestling, poker and the show-stopping Toughest Firefighter Alive.

Join in the Fun
Whether you choose to participate in the Marathon, Half Marathon, Bridge Run and Family Fun Run, the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival on Sunday 16 September gives you the opportunity to run, jog or walk over the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge traffic-free and cross the finish line at the Sydney Opera House.

Why leave all the action to the professionals? Test your skills during one of these challenging pursuits around Sydney.

Sydney Motorsport Park
- Live the dream and experience the thrill of motorsport racing at Sydney Motorsport Park at Eastern Creek Raceway. During the Supercar Experience let one of the professional drivers take you for a spin around the circuit in a Lamborghini Gallardo or one of the V8 supercars.

- Be one of the 75,000 people making the 14km journey from Hyde Park in Sydney’s CBD to Bondi Beach during The Sun-Herald City 2 Surf. The world’s largest fun run is one of Sydney’s favourite sporting events. www.city2surf.com.au

- Experience the thrill of flying past Sydney’s Harbour and coastline during a doors-off helicopter flight with Sydney HeliTours. The stunning view of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, combined with the wind blowing through your hair is the ultimate adrenalin experience.

- Pedal power will be in force during the 29th annual Spring Cycle on Sunday 21 October. 10,000 cyclists will begin their journey in North Sydney, cycling over the main deck of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and choosing to follow either the 15km City Ride to Pyrmont or the longer, 50kmClassic Ride to Sydney Olympic Park.

- There is no better place in the world than to learn to sail a yacht than Sydney Harbour. EastSail offer courses for a range of skill levels departing daily from Rushcutters Bay. From October, the Harbour comes alive with the Twilight Racing Series making it a perfect time to take to the water and see all the action up close.

Flight Simulator, Darling Harbour
- Experience the thrill of flying without leaving the city at Flight Simulator, Darling Harbour. The fully enclosed cockpit has 180 degree views and you can choose to fly to one of 24 destinations. The Flight Simulator experience is suitable for novice flyers embarking on a maiden flight, through to fully-trained pilots.

- Dive with sharks at the refurbished Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary.Swim inside the aquarium with huge grey nurse sharks, giant stingrays, sea turtles, turtles and a vast array of marine life during the Shark Dive Xtreme tour.

Sporting Tucker
Cyclists will love visiting the Town Bike Pitstop. The café hosts the Redfern Bike Depot, a free space to maintain your bike, borrow tools and to utilise the onsite workshop.

-Whether you’ve worked up a hunger after the game or need some R&R, there’s no shortage of dining options or watering holes in Sydney.

- Mobile food trucks are now feeding hungry revellers and tweeting their locations daily to a loyal army of followers. Cantina Mobil (@CantinaMobil) is the first truck to hit the streets, serving up Mexican fare and. Eat Art Truck (@EatArtTruck) doubles as a moving canvas for art while serving delicacies such as marinated charred spatchcock with rocket, pickled pear and grilled haloumi from former Tetsuya’s sous-chef Stuart McGill and Veggie Patch, where vegetarian versions of classic street food will be created using ingredients from the truck’s rooftop herb garden.

Crave Sydney International Food Festival
- Mr Wong is the hot new restaurant from the Merivale crew and head chef Dan Hong. Located in the CBD, the 240 seater restaurant is serving up contemporary Cantonese cuisine and the menu features over 60 dishes including Chinese roasted duck and a huge dim sum selection.

- During the month of October, satisfy your cravings at one of the Crave Sydney International Food Festival events ranging from Barbeque Madness to the Night Noodle Markets.

Get Revved up for the Singapore Grand Prix

2012 Formula 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix hits the city streets this September with headlining superstars Katy Perry, Maroon 5 and Noel Gallagher
Singapore is gearing up for the 2012 Formula 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix, with exciting entertainment in store on and off the track from 21st - 23rd September.

This annual race presents an exhilarating time to visit Singapore and international visitors have been flocking to the city ever since its inaugural race in 2008 to enjoy not only the thrill of fast cars, but also the exciting calendar of glamorous parties, music sensations and memorable events.

This year, the Formula 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix will be a sporting and entertainment extravaganza for all to enjoy. Be trackside to experience this phenomenal night race with Formula 1 cars speeding past some of Singapore's most well-loved landmarks, but also enjoy a power-packed line-up of international headliners and parties taking place behind the scenes.

This year's headlining acts at the Padang Stage include global superstar sensation Katy Perry, chart topper Noel Gallagher, Grammy award winning rock group Maroon 5, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee The Pretenders, chart topping group Bananarama, as well as iconic 80s duo The Proclaimers.

The extensive entertainment line-up also includes four outstanding local Australian acts including sassy singer-songwriter Mama Kin, quick-change artistes Soul Mystique, award-winning beatboxer Tom Thum and illusionist Nicholas Tweedy. Visitors can catch these riveting performances and over 10 hours of race action, across three fully loaded days!

Trackside tickets start as low as AUD$45*, while a three-day Premier Walkabout ticket averages at AUD$115* per day with access to all zones and 350 entertainers within the circuit park. 

For details on the performance location and timings, please visit www.singaporegp.sg for the latest updates.

For further information on Singapore visit www.yoursingapore.com/au  

Monday, 30 July 2012

Marine Creatures Galore at Sydney Aquarium

The Sydney Aquarium takes you on an amazing underwater journey through Australia’s unique freshwater and marine aquatic environments. I recently made a visit to the Sydney Aquarium and discovered some of the world’s most incredible animals, including huge sharks, massive stingrays, jellyfish, platypuses, penguins, sea dragons, thousands of tropical fish and much, much more.

Great Barrier Reef Exhibits
There are hundreds of brilliantly coloured fish species, different soft and hard corals and sleek tropical sharks in Sydney Aquariums enormous Great Barrier Reef exhibits, which the largest of its type in the world. There are numerous huge floor to ceiling windows looking into the main Oceanarium enabling the viewing of hundreds of tropical reef fish living side by side with sharks and sawfish. There is a glass walk-way tunnel where I felt like I was walking under water with wonderful views of sharks, rays, a turtle and plenty of fish. There is also an option to float on the top of the Oceanarium on a Glass Bottom Boat for an exclusive behind the scenes experience.

The display is based on Great Barrier Reef, which is the largest living system on earth, covering 2000km from north to south on the east coast of Australia. It is so large that it can even be seen from space. The incredible biodiversity of life includes over 350 species of coral, 2,000 species of fishes and over 4,000 species of molluscs.

NEW: Bay of Rays Exhibits
The new Tropical Bay of Rays area of Sydney Aquarium, houses the most colourful combination of Australian rays - many threatened or endangered - ever displayed together.

There are more than 600 species of rays worldwide. Rays have adapted to survive in open oceans, shallow reefs, deep continental shelves, estuaries and freshwater environments. A variety of ray species call the new Bay of Rays home, many of which are making their debut appearance at the attraction. It will be difficult to miss the electric blue spots of the Fantail Rays and the Blue-spotted Maskray, and with other species including the spectacular Leopard Sharks, White-spotted Guitarfish and Leopard Whiprays, the new tropical oasis is a sight not to be missed.

Saws and Claws Exhibits
SAWS and CLAWS is the newest creature feature at Sydney Aquarium, featuring incredible Smalltooth Sawfish and HUGE Japanese Spider Crabs.

The highlights of the new SAWS and CLAWS creature feature are the Smalltooth Sawfish. Measuring between 1.6 and 2.7 metres in length (the species can actually grow up to a staggering 7.6 metres!), the new sawfish are a sight to be seen.

Visitors will be able to see the sawfish gliding around the huge Great Barrier Reef exhibit, with its vast viewing windows, alongside hundreds of tropical fish and reef sharks.

Forming the other half of this new exhibit are the amazing Japanese Spider Crabs - the world's largest species of crab. The Japanese Spider Crabs can be found in the new CLAWS exhibit area, just past the Mermaid Lagoon dugong oceanarium 

Southern Rivers Exhibits
These feature the freshwater fish found in Australia’s largest river system, the Murray Darling and in coastal rivers of South eastern Australia. This is where you find the unique Australian animal the platypus.

The Northern Oceans Exhibits
At the Northern Oceans Exhibits you can see Nemo hiding amongst the waving tentacles of anemones and colourful fish swimming amongst the colourful corals.

The Northern Oceans Exhibits feature incredible displays of species such as clown anemone fish (aka Nemo) darting amongst the waving tentacles of an anemone and sea stars and sea cucumbers silently creeping amongst the coral.

Wildly coloured triggerfish and vibrantly coloured tangs and angelfish zip around, and deceptively beautiful lionfish hover menacingly over coral formations in search of their next meal, watched on by brilliantly patterned lobsters with their gently waving antannea extending over 10 inches.

One of the most impressive displays in this exhibit is the beautiful Coral Cay - a 20 metre long tank containing anemones, real corals and hundreds of vibrant tropical fish. Look closely and you'll get an insight into the day-to-day lives of coral-dwelling species as they dash about while the simulated current creates a mesmerising gentle sway throughout the entire tank.

Other displays in the Northern Oceans Exhibits feature a Giant Trevally, triggerfish, stunning Leopard Whiprays and several species of fantastically patterned Sweet Lips amongst hundreds more tropical fish of every conceivable shape, colour and size.

Kids and grown-ups can also have the hands-on experience in the touchpool with shark eggs, sea cucumbers, hermit crabs, sea stars, sea urchins and more.

NEW: Shipwreck Exhibits
Set amongst this beached shipwreck environment you can discover a vast array of animals native to the Southern Oceans. The cooler waters of Australia’s Southern Oceans are rich with an abundance of marine life including the smallest species of penguin, the Little Penguin, elegant Weedy Sea Dragons, and the enormous Tasmanian Giant Crab who weighs over 10kg.

Sydney and Surrounds Exhibits
Sydney Harbour is as beautiful below the surfacer as it is above with a wide variety of animals making it home. At the Sydney and Surrounds Exhibits you can see many of these, including the huge Grey Nurse Sharks, the majestic stingrays and a wide variety of fish. The Sydney and Surrounds Exhibits highlight many of the fishes and other marine animals you might see while snorkelling or diving in this beautiful harbour.

Although situated in the middle of Australia's most populated city, Sydney Harbour is a truly remarkable haven for wildlife and is home to many different species.The Sydney Harbour Exhibits highlight many of the fishes and invertebrates one might see while snorkelling or diving in this beautiful harbour. Many of the fishes are so spectacularly coloured, they can easily be mistaken for tropical reef species.

The displays within the Sydney and Surrounds Exhibits simulate a variety of different habitats found within Sydney Harbour, from the intertidal surge zone to deeper reefs, with one exhibit even featuring the fishes one would find living under a man-made pier.

Mermaid Lagoon
This exhibit is usually the home of Dugongs - beautiful animals which legend has it were often mistaken for mermaids by the first European sailors to arrive in Australia's coastal waters. The dugongs are temporarily off display as a new home is being built for them as part of the launch of the new SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium in September 2012. Dugongs don't like disruption, so for their own welfare, they've moved somewhere quieter while work is in progress.

Meanwhile the Dugong neighbours, the fearsome looking Grey Nurse Sharks, Lemon Sharks and Smooth Rays have moved into their new area  while their Oceanarium is also being upgraded - so come and check out all the big sharks on show

NEW: The Mangrove Exhibits
The mangroves of northern Australia are subject to tropical wet and dry seasons, providing a regularly changing habitat for a unique and diverse group of animals. The new Mangroves area of Sydney Aquarium replicates the dark, atmospheric feel of the of the mangrove swamps of Australia's tropical north, home to frogs, lizards, crustaceans and a vast variety of fish.

This environment is subject to tropical wet and dry seasons, providing a regularly changing habitat for a unique and diverse group of animals. Most fish and other animals living in this environment are well adapted to the fluctuating salinity. A particularly good example of such a salt adapted animal on display in the aquarium is the Barramundi, a large fish highly prized for both food and sport. 

Some northern species are less salt water tolerant and so take sanctuary in fresh water found in the far upper reaches of larger, permanent rivers. The lungfish and saratoga on display at the aquarium are two such species.

The Northern Rivers Exhibits
These house a diverse group of saltwater and freshwater animals including the Barramundi and the unique lungfish – a prehistoric animal whose ancestors have been around since Australia was part of the giant supercontinent called Gondwana, around 140 million years ago.

Feeds & Talks
There are plenty of opportunities to see the marine creature being fed and to listen to entertaining and educational talks.
10:00am, 11:30am, 2:30pm - Ray Talk
For the first time ever Sydney aquarium has an area dedicated to rays. Come and learn about these intelligent, curious and amazing animals at the 'Bay of Rays'.

10:15am, 3:00pm  - Penguin Feed
Watch thr colony of gorgeous Little Penguins taking breakfast in their newly-refurbished pool in the Shipwreck area. Little Penguins are native to Sydney Harbour and the southern coast of Australia.

10:30am, 3:15pm - Shark Talk (feed during show)
Watch as the iconic shark fin breaks the surface of thr 'Shark Ocean'. The shark talk is the one stop spot to lean about the sharks at Sydney Aquarium including the threatened Grey Nurse Shark.

11:00am talk and shark feed, 3:45pm talk Great Barrier Reef
Kick back in the mesmerising Reef Theatre and learn about some of the resident animals that call the world's largest Great Barrier Reef-themed exhibit their home.

12:00pm, 1:30pm, 4:30pm - Shark Jaw Talk
Become a shark expert at the Shark Headquarters. Come and touch some different shark jaws and discover what a shark eats based on its jaw type.

1:00pm, 2:00pm, 6:00pm - Discovery Pool Tales
Come and make a discovery at the Discovery Pool! Touch and learn about the animals

Sydney Aquarium Details
Address - Aquarium Pier, Darling Harbour, Sydneyb Australia
Phone - 02 8251 7800
Price – Adult $35 at Aquarium $35, from $24 on Internet
            Child $20 at Aquarium, from $14 on Internet
            Concession $28 at Aquarium, from $19 on Internet      
            Family at Aquarium $110, from $60 on Internet
SAVE MONEY! - $60 family tickets are available when purchased after 4pm weekdays and after 6pm on weekends
            - Darling Harbour Big Ticket – provides one admission to 3 attractions over 30 days/ - Sydney Aquarium, WILD LIFE Sydney and the all new Madame Tussauds Sydney. Adults: $58.50, Kids: $36, Family: $175 
            - Sydney Combo Passes are available for 2 or more of these popular Sydney attractions - Sydney Aquarium, WILD LIFE Sydney, Sydney Tower Eye, Madame Tussauds Sydney and Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary
            - Merlin Annual Pass offers 12 months unlimited entry to WILD LIFE Sydney, Sydney Aquarium, Sydney Tower Eye, Madame Tussauds Sydney and Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary in Sydney. PLUS it now also includes Melbourne Aquarium, Underwater World at Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast, Otway Fly, Illawarra Fly, Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World in Auckland (NZ) and WILD LIFE Hamilton Island in the Whitsunday Islands, QLD.
Hours - 9am-8pm, last admission 7.30pm
Transport: Train – 5 minutes walk from Town Hall Station
            Ferry – Next to King St Wharf
            Monrail – Net to Darling Park Station
Facebook – facebook.com/sydneyaquarium
Email for any questions to be answered - sydneyaquarium@merlinentertainments.com.au

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Spotlight on: Birdsville Races

Birdsville Races
It's not quite the race that stops a nation - but the tiny town of Birdsville (population 120), which lies about as far 'Outback' as you can get, 1600kms from Brisbane, does pull out all stops when it comes to entertaining a crowd of 6000 each year for its iconic race weekend.

On the menu is OBE beef and Apple and Quandong pie; a tent city is erected offering comfortable accommodation options, and this year's entertainment featuring Mick Lindsay, Paul Costa and iconic bush poet Murray Harta will keep the punters happy even away from the track.

Photographic evidence points to Birdsville hosting races as far back as 1882, and current Race Club President and ambassador David Brook claims it is this proud heritage which ensures the races go on, despite flood and drought over the years.

This year, all eyes will be on the field, the fashions on the field that is, as filly's, sorry ladies compete for the best dressed. There are 13 races program over this fun-filled weekend, but the real breath-holding happens during the XXXX Birdsville Cup which runs mid afternoon on Saturday.

Birdsville Races
A long time favourite with loyal grey nomads who make the journey each year, theBirdsville Races are also becoming popular with a younger set, keen to fly or drive to be part of one of Queensland's best events.

For more information, visit www.birdsvilleraces.com  

Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Queen, James Bond, & Mr Bean Star in London Olympic Games Opening Ceremony

Opening Ceremony
The London Olympics have commenced with a wonderful opening ceremony. It opened with the ringing of the largest harmonically tuned bell in the world, produced by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, measuring two meters (yards) tall by three meters wide and weighing 23 metric tons (25.3 tons)

From the green hills and pleasant countryside smoke stacks are rose up out of the ground as Britain remembered the industrial revolution. Olympic rings, glowing in red in the middle of the stadium

The Queen & James Bond
Daniel Craig, playing James Bond, entered Buckingham Palace. "Good evening Mr Bond," Her Royal Majesty says as she turns from writing at her desk. They then boarded the chopper so that they could parachute into the Olympic Stadium.
Mike Oldfield of Tubular bells fame played Chariots of Fire with Mr Bean being at his best.

Paul Macartney of Beatles fame closed the opening ceremony by leading the sing-along of Hey Jude.

Mr Bean
Here are some of the many Olympic Opening Ceremony statistics:
- There were 15,000 square meters of staging - equivalent to 12 Olympic-sized swimming pools
- 12,956 props were used, over 100 times more than a West End musical
- A million watt PA system using double the amount of speakers as on the main stage at the Glastonbury music festival
- 10,000 adult volunteer performers
- Real farmyard animals featured included 12 horses, 3 cows, 2 goats, 10 chickens, 10 ducks, 9 geese, 70 sheep, and 3 sheep dogs.
- Each of the four Great Britain nations were represented by their national flower - the rose of England, the thistle of Scotland, the daffodil of Wales and flax from Northern Ireland.

Other Olympic statistics include:
- London becomes the first city to host the Olympics three times, following on from 1908 and 1948.
- Andrew Hoy is the only Australian to be in 7 Olympics
- the Christian hymn Abide With Me has been  sung at every FA Cup since 1927.
- Five countries – Greece, Great Britain, France, Switzerland and Australia – have been represented at all Summer Olympic Games
Australia Entering Stadium
- The only country to have won at least one gold medal at every Summer Olympic Games is Great Britain, ranging from one gold in 1904, 1952 and 1996 to fifty-six golds in 1908
- the USA has won the most Gold Medals – 1032
- the most medals wins in athletics is 18 by Larysa Latynina from the URS  
- the next Summer Olympics will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016

International Work Experience at the Australian Reptile Park

Australian Reptile Park
The Australian Reptile Park's work and play work experience program offers international tourists a close encounter with wildlife and the chance to live like a zoo keeper!  Students get loads of hands-on interaction with a range of reptiles and mammals and have the opportunity to carry out general tasks our keepers experience on a daily basis!  This is truly a unique tour and a fantastic way to learn about and handle our diverse range of wildlife.


There are five amazing sessions you can join to experience up close what it's like to be a keeper in a zoo! These exciting and interactive sessions have been put together by our team of keepers to show you what their daily job is like. You won't experience this anywhere else!  The morning session starts from 9.30am and the afternoon from 2.30pm with additional options of morning/afternoon tea or a BBQ lunch!  When you have completed your activities, you will even receive a Certificate to show off your accomplishment!

Australian Reptile Park
Choose from:

• Feeding
• Animal Enrichment
• Enclosure Cleaning and maintenance
• Animal Care
• Interact with our animals and the public


Our unique international student VIP Behind the Scenes tour runs for 50 minutes with 10 minutes for Q&A. It is a fully escorted tour by one of the Reptile Park's very friendly animal keepers. During this time, you'll have the opportunity to get up close and personal with an array of animals such as Matilda the wombat, Lily the ringtail possum, Libby the tortoise and Jake the crocodile.  VIP students will feed reptiles such as frill neck lizards or chameleons in our off-display reptile room, see our restricted Tasmanian devil breeding facility and learn how the Reptile Park is helping save this endangered species. Witness a funnel web milking and venture into the venom room, home to over 150 snakes - some of the deadliest in the world!Conditions: All bookings require 48hrs notice. Minimum 8 and maximum 25 per group. Minimum age is 8yrs.  Special Deal: Tour Guide, Translator and Driver are FOC!
Australian Reptile Park

For more information and prices:
Call +61 2 4340 1022
Email: admin@reptilepark.com.au

New Cairns ZOOm to Launch in July

Cairns ZOOm
Cairns City’s only centrally located wildlife park will soon be home to the world’s first Challenge Ropes Course in a wildlife immersion exhibit, with the exciting new Cairns ZOOm attraction opening next month.

Situated in the Cairns Wildlife Dome on the roof of the Pullman Reef Hotel Casino, the new attraction will consist of over 50 elements of crossings and ziplines, including one that takes participants directly over Goliath, a 4 metre crocodile.

Major construction and maintenance work is continuing throughout June in preparation for the new attraction, with Goliath restrained whilst staff cleaned out his enclosure several weeks ago.

Cairns ZOOm & Wildlife Dome General Manager Michael Woodward said it was the first time Goliath’s pond had been cleaned during his 8 years of residence.

“This gave us the opportunity to inspect, repair and maintain his home, clearing out a build-up of debris caught in rocks at the bottom of the pond in front of the glass observation window,” he said.

“Whilst this was happening, Goliath undertook a health check-up by a native wildlife vet,” he said.

Mr Woodward said the Cairns ZOOm will appeal across all markets and ages with varying levels of difficulty and adventure.

“A soft adventure component called the DomeClimb will allow participants to walk along an external walkway around the perimeter of the Dome, whilst internal walkways will provide a unique birds-eye view of the layout of the Dome,” he said.

“The HiZOOm will consist of more complex crossings and ziplines and will appeal the more adventurous, as will the PowerJump, where participants jump off a 13m high tower attached by rope, with a fan device ensuring a gentle and smooth landing.”

Cairns ZOOm
The entire ropes course will utilise a continuous belay system, with participants connected via a harness to a safety cable system that they are unable to disconnect themselves from whilst traversing through the elements.

Cairns ZOOm opens in July, and will be an exhilarating Ropes Adventure Course consisting of ziplines, crossings and walkways in a wildlife immersion exhibit, allowing visitors to appreciate and be educated about our native fauna.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Australian Thriller Writer Jaye Ford to Speak in Upper Hunter

Jaye Ford
Muswellbrook and Denman Libraries, in the Upper Hunter of NSW Australia, will be hosting two free talks by Australian author Jaye Ford on Thursday, 2nd August 2012. The first session will be held at Muswellbrook Library from 11:00am and the second session will be held at Denman Library from 2:00pm.

Jaye Ford is a new Australian Thriller writer from Lake Macquarie. She began her career as a journalist and at the age of 40 she decided to follow her dream of becoming an author. She has recently released her first two books, 'Beyond Fear' and 'Scared Yet'. Jaye will be discussing her road to publishing, her writing process and why she chose to write within the thriller genre.

All members of the public are welcome to come to either session, however bookings are essential. For more information or to book a seat please contact Muswellbrook Library on 6543-1913 or Denman Library on 65

Qantas on Verge of Alliance with Emirates

Qantas Airways is on the verge of an alliance with Emirates that will see the majority of its London-bound services routed through Dubai instead of Singapore, according to a report by the Australian Financial Review.

The proposed partnership between Qantas and Emirates is part of the Australian flag carrier's efforts to turn around its loss-making international business, which was separated from its domestic arm on July.

The two airlines are reportedly in advanced negotiations over a codeshare deal that will see Qantas launch inaugural flights to Dubai, and rely on Emirates to faciliate onward connections to destinations across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The alliance with Emirates would signal the end of Qantas’s long-standing arrangement with British Airways on the Kangaroo Route  to  London and into Europe, the report added.

First Food and Wine Trail For Kangaroo Island

Visitors to wild and wonderful Kangaroo Island can now explore a new trail to surprising places where they can taste the best local food and wine.

The same pristine environment that makes the island a haven for Australian wildlife has made it an ideal clean, green environment for famers, vignerons and fishermen to present a delicious array of local gourmet delights.

Thanks to the launch of the Kangaroo Island Farm Gate and Cellar Door Trail, visitors can now easily plan a trip taking in a range of local producers, cellar doors and events, each with their own specialities and personalities.

The trail brochure includes three suggested itineraries developed for visitors with varying amounts of time on the island, each also featuring a mix of art, scenery and natural delights.

The trail itself features boutique establishments focussing on quality rather than quantity, and visitors who arrive at the island's food and wine landmarks will often be able to chat with the makers while they taste their creations.

Kangaroo Island producers are renowned for the quality of their products, which include free-range eggs, olive oil, honey, native berry jams, smoked fish, sauces and marinades, regional yoghurts and cheeses, freshwater marron, breads and biscuits.The sea also yields a bounty: oysters, prawns, crayfish, whiting, snapper and garfish are all available fresh from the ocean.

Kangaroo Island was declared a wine region in 2001. Today its 200 hectares of vines are tended by 30 growers, who together produce wine for 18 labels. Ciders and spirits are also made locally.

Visitors who follow the Kangaroo Island Farm Gate and Cellar Door Trail will find food that tunes into the seasons and nature, much of which is hard to find anywhere else.

Tourism Kangaroo Island chairman Pierre Gregor said establishment of a food and wine trail was a long-held ambition for many local tourism operators. 

"We are very proud of the finished product and look forward to welcoming new visitors to Kangaroo Island," Mr Gregor said.

"There is so much to enjoy here and we hope this trail will help spread the word. The offering made through the island's food, wine and art experience helps to value-add the tourism experience." 

The Kangaroo Island Farm Gate and Cellar Door Trail was produced by Tourism Kangaroo Island, with funding provided through the South Australian Tourism Commission's Destination Development Fund.

The Kangaroo Island Farm Gate and Cellar Door Trail guide can be obtained from the Kangaroo Island Gateway Visitor Information Centre on 1800 811 080 or via www.tourkangarooisland.com.au.

McDonald's Townsville Running Festival 2012

The McDonald's Townsville Running Festival, to be held on 5-6 August 2012, contains one of Australia's few "flat and fast" marathons, and has grown from just 215 competitors in 1999 to almost 2,500 competitors in 2011.

This year, 50 per cent of competitors will travel from outside the region to attend - some from as far away as New Zealand, USA, England, Japan and Papua New Guinea.

2011 winner Richard Banks from Manly, NSW will return to defend his title. As the winner of the 2011 Townsville Marathon, Richard was invited to compete in a race in sister city Iwaki, Japan in February this year. Iwaki is just 60km from the Fukushima nuclear plant that was plunged into crisis following an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. Richard saw first-hand the devastation that these events caused for the local communities.

Then there's Sue and Andrew O'Brien - who in 2008 ran eight marathons in eight countries over eight consecutive weeks, finishing in Townsville - and will return for their third time this year. The Townsville Marathon is on Sue's list of the 5 most memorable marathons she's run in the past decade. With a breathtaking courses winding alongside the Coral Sea, it's not hard to see why.

For more information about the McDonald's Townsville Running Festival, click on the Website www.townsvillerunningfestival.com

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Puase in Sydney at Selah Restaurant

Selah is stylish relaxed city dining offering contemporary Australian cuisine. With the trend to healthy eating these days it is good to see that the focus of Selah is on sustainable, seasonal and unprocessed ingredients. Many Australian primary producers are suffering from the importation of overseas produce. Selah is doing its bit to help Aussie farmers by believing in the quality of Australian produce. Selah sources from Australian growers, artisan producers, winemakers and brewers with the benefit being that there are less food miles involved and the produce is the freshest it can be. 

Selah is committed to supporting Australian producers and their menu includes Riverina lamb and beef, free-range Berkshire pork from Byron Bay, Murray Darling Flats salt, far north QLD black pepper, Mildura olive oil, Australian and NZ seafood, Australian cheeses including Woodside, and Beloka Mineral Water from the Snowy Mountains in NSW. They are sourced from small producers to present simple, tasty dishes. Some of the suppliers include Andrews Meats, Claudio's Seafoods, Fountaindale Free-range Eggs, and Sonoma Artisan Bakers.

Sam Pask, the Proprietor, of Selah, started off in the hospitality industry more than 20 years ago. His first job was a as dish washer in a restauran6t in New Zealand. He has since worked in a variety of restaurants, hotels, clubs, his own café and just before starting Selah, the acclaimed Quay restaurant.

Sam opened Selah in May 2003. The name Selah is an ancient Hebrew musical term meaning ‘to pause’. The word “selah” is found in two books of the Bible, but is most prevalent in the Psalms, where it appears 71 times. The concept of the Selah restaurant is to provide Sydney locals and visitors to Sydney with a relaxed dining experience, a pause, in one of the busiest and most vibrant cities in the world. I found other meanings of the word Selah in the dictionary that all seem to apply to this restaurant: "to hang" - it was a good venue to be at; “to raise the voice” - it is worthy of spreading the word around, "forever" - my memories of my first dining experience at Selah will last forever.

The decor of Selah is warm, earthy and inviting with an intimate feel to it. On a cold winters night outside it was cosy and warm inside. Exposed sandstone blocks make up one wall and large prints echoing red and gold colours of the restaurant signage mark another There is a good view of the kitchen which is quite open to the seating area.

The restaurant is dimly lit with a few intricate lanterns hanging from the ceiling emitting a warm yellow glow about the place, giving the establishment a casual, homely feel.

I was seated at a front table with a view out the window towards the leafy park. At the bus stop a parked bus (adorned with advertising signage of the supermarket I have casual employment at) reminded me that this was only a temporary break from my real world back at home.

A variety of diners would find Selah a desired dining option. People dining for different occasions: business, pleasure or the sheer convenience of having a local in the city. People would find Selah ideal for a long lunch, a quick meal before a show; the whole three course dining experience with some old friends or just stopping in for a steak and a soothing glass of red wine on the way home from a busy day at work.

Selah serves superb food and well priced local and international wines. On the evening I dined at Selah the staff provided friendly, attentive, polite and professional service.

I skipped over the entrée and stated the meal with some lovely crusty bread and a glass of red wine from the bar.

Captain Cooks Endeavour Anchor
For my main, I had the roast lamb back strap, spiced pistachio nut crust, pomegranate, freekah salad, piquillo pepper & yoghurt. It was the best lamb I've had in a while. The meat was so tender. The dressing was tangy and complimented the lamb really well. No packaged sauces here!.For the side dish I chose brussels sprouts & crispy speck bacon – cooked to perfection. These were not under or overcooked which is often the case when cooked at home.

For dessert I enjoyed the passion fruit marshmallow meringue with lemon curd, shortbread, and puffed quinoa. Delicious! After a warming cup of coffee I walked the short distance around Circular Quay to the Sydney Opera House to see the current production of Aida.

To sum up my dining at Selah - it was delicious fresh ingredient food in a lovely atmosphere with friendly service. The true test of a restaurant is if people will return to dine another time. For me, I will return when I am next in Sydney.

Location - 12 Loftus Street in Circular Quay, Sydney, Australia

Prices - Entrée - range in price from $19 - $30, Mains  $30 - $38, and Desserts  $15 - $21.  There is bargain 2 Course Lunch Special of $45 — any 2 dishes from any 2 Courses.

Trading Hours - LUNCH: Monday—Friday 12:00 — 3:00pm, DINNER : Monday—Sunday from 5:30pm.

Bookings - To reserve a table, contact the restaurant directly on (02) 9247 0097 or send an email to selah@selah.com.au

Website – to see the detailed menu options and other gems like recipes from the Selah kitchen click on the Selah website http://www.selah.com.au

2012 Nike US Open of Surfing Promises Another Historic Week of Sport, Music and Art at Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach, CA – After an unprecedented showing last year, the Nike US Open of Surfing® will kick off on July 28th in Huntington Beach for what has become one of the most anticipated surf, music and lifestyle events of the year. Title sponsor Nike – along with presenting sponsors Hurley and Converse – continue to elevate the event which will attract over three quarters of a million fans and onlookers along a 14-acre stretch of sand on the south side of Huntington Beach Pier, showcasing the best in surf, skate, music, and art.

"The US Open of Surfing is the epicenter for action sports culture. This year we will introduce the biggest stadium in surf and largest skate contest on the beach as the top action sports athletes, art and music talent hit the sand in Huntington," said Sandy Bodecker, VP Nike Action Sports.

The 2012 Nike US Open of Surfing will run from July 28 to August 5. All events are free and open to the public and can be viewed live daily at www.usopenofsurfing.com. With more than 3.6MM+ webcast viewers last year, the webcast broke viewership records and expects to deliver content to even more viewers worldwide this year. The event is owned and produced by IMG, the global leader in sports and entertainment.

US Open of Surfing
Fans will see all of their favorites battle it out again this year in surf and skate's biggest stadium spaces on both water and sand. This year's surf stadium and skate arena will take the competition to another level! Anchored by the world's largest professional surfing competition, the US Open is a pivotal point on the ASP World Tour for both the men and women. For the men, a win at the US Open - a North America ASP Men's Prime event - will earn them valuable points toward a coveted Top 32 world ranking. And for the women, the US Open of Surfing(r) marks the final stop on the 2012 ASP World Title Tour. With everything on the line and a close race for the World Title, the US Open will potentially crown a women's World Champion in Surf City this summer.

"The US Open is the biggest stage in competitive surfing, and I'm excited to compete again in Huntington, where the world's best athletes come together to vie for one of the most prestigious titles in the sport," said Carissa Moore, 2011 Women's World Champion. "To compete in an arena with surfing at center stage is a dream come true, and I'm putting everything on the line to bring home the US Open title again."

"There is no other event like the US Open of Surfing. Together with Nike, Hurley and Converse, we have created the ultimate arena for athletes, musicians and artists to showcase their talent," says James Leitz, Senior Vice President of IMG. "With hundreds of thousands of people coming down to the beach to celebrate action sports, the atmosphere is electric, vibrant and youthful. This US Open of Surfing is the epitome of the California lifestyle."

Converse Coastal Carnage,
From the water to the sand, the action doesn't stop. Converse Coastal Carnage, a pro/am skateboarding competition, will once again host the most talented and diverse crew of riders from across the globe as they compete in a state-of-the-art skate bowl with ground breaking tricks for a piece of the $90,000 prize purse. And for the first time, Nike Skateboarding is hosting the Damn Am HB presented by Nike Skateboarding, will be featuring the world's top amateurs showcasing their skills on the ultimate street course inspired by the best street spots from around the world. In addition one of the week's most popular events, the US Open Music Stage, will host a soon-to-be-announced lineup of bands that will surely rival last year's MGMT performance in front of hundreds of thousands of screaming fans.

Coupled with one-of-a-kind retail and brand experiences, public skate courses, movie premieres, 100 interactive exhibits, autograph signings, DJs and giveaways, it will be a summer to remember at the Nike US Open of Surfing. Be ready to dive into the madness starting July 28.

The Nike US Open of Surfing is proudly sponsored by Casio G-Shock, Red Bull, Pacifico, Paul Mitchell Salon Haircare, TransWorld Media, Verizon Wireless, Casio G'zOne and 7-Eleven.

The Nike US Open of Surfing airs on NBC Saturday, September 13, 2012 at 1:30 pm EST as part of the "Red Bull Signature Series.” Nike partnered with the Red Bull Signature Series on events including Supernatural, Lowers Pro and the US Open of Surfing, to support some of the most progressive and innovative surfing, snowboarding, and skiing action sports events. For more information, visit redbullsignatureseries.com.

Engineered for world-class athletes, Nike Action unites the performance innovation of Nike with a deep commitment to the history, creativity, and raw athleticism of action sports. With a focus on Skateboarding, Snowboarding and Surfing, our footwear and apparel merge advanced materials and design with classic styling, driven by the voice of our athletes. Based at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, Nike Action is dedicated to inspiring and supporting the world of action sports. For more information, visit www.nikeinc.com.

"Hurley is a company based on inclusion,” says chairman and founder Bob Hurley. This philosophy applied to Bob Hurley's early years as a Huntington Beach shaper, working with friends alongside the world's best athletes to make a better surfboard. It applied to the company's launch in 1999, when Hurley decided to start a brand that was a true microphone for youth. In 2002, Hurley was acquired by Nike the largest and most influential sporting brand in the world. Inclusion remains a guiding principle of the company today, where innovative products like Phantom Boardshorts and game-changing events like the US Open of Surfing continue to redefine what is possible in our world. Hurley headquarters are in Costa Mesa, CA with international offices in Sydney, Tokyo, Barcelona and Bali. www.hurley.com.

Converse Inc., based in N. Andover, Massachusetts, is a wholly owned subsidiary of NIKE, Inc. Established in 1908, the Converse brand has built a reputation as "America's Original Sports Company”™ and has been associated with a rich heritage of legendary shoes such as the Chuck Taylor® All Star® shoe, the Jack Purcell® shoe and the One Star® shoe. Today, Converse offers a diverse portfolio including lifestyle men's, women's and children's footwear, apparel and accessories. Converse product is sold globally by retailers in over 160 countries and through 63 company-owned retail locations in the U.S. For more information, visit Media.Converse.com.

IMG Worldwide is a global sports, entertainment and media business, with nearly 3,000 employees operating in 30 countries around the globe. IMG's areas of expertise are diverse and wide ranging: IMG College; IMG's Joint Ventures in China, Brazil and India and Turkey; IMG Media; IMG Events and Federations; IMG Fashion; IMG Models; IMG Art+Commerce; IMG Clients; IMG Academies; IMG Consulting and IMG Licensing. More information is available at www.imgworld.com. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

Enjoy Korea’s Walking Trails and Beaches this Summer

Jirisan Dulegil Mountain Trail
Looking for outdoor adventures and the warmth of summer in Asia right now, then South Korea has it all.  With the peninsula surrounded by beautiful beaches and mountains covering seventy percent of the country, Korea offers it all for adventurous visitors.

Hiking in one of Korea’s seventeen national parks can be challenging and offers the chance to commune with the beauty of nature and enjoy the spectacular mountain scenery.  All of Korea’s national parks have well marked and safe trails, hiking is a national pastime in Korea and you won’t be alone, you will meet many locals along the trails especially on weekends.

Recently the 274km Jirisan Dulegil Mountain Trail located in Jirisan National Park in central Korea was fully opened.  Comprising twenty-two courses, the trail meanders through old villages and forests, and over the hills and along rivers and valleys thereby connecting nature and humans. In Cheonghakdong, known as the Village of the Blue Crane you can see how the villagers have maintained their traditional lifestyle over many years.

On Korea’s semi-tropical island of Jeju, the Jeju Olle Walking Trail offers a way to enjoy the land’s stunning scenery as you walk.  With its unique and dramatic volcanic landscape and islands, Jeju is a natural paradise.  The Jeju Olle Walking Trail has over 200km of connected walking paths which can be divided into thirteen one day walks.  The paths take hikers through mountainous regions, along the coast with its dramatic black lava cliffs and sparkling blue ocean below to some of the most remote spots on the island.  Along the way you’ll get a chance to meet some of Jeju’s warm-hearted locals as well as sample some of the island’s specialty dishes.

Jeju Olle Walking Trail
If you are visiting Seoul and wanting to escape the city for a day, then the Bukhansan Dulle-gil Walking trail (70km) connects the forest paths and villages along the foothills of Mt. Bukhansan.  The Bukhansan National Park is a popular destination throughout the year, drawing an impressive five million visitors per year.  It is particularly spectacular in Spring and Autumn when the trees turn to gold.  There are 21 sections to the trail which leads hikers through lush forests to temples perched on mountain crags and back into the history of ancient Korea.

Summer in Korea is also time to head to the beach and Korea has many beautiful beaches and islands.  For Aussie beach fans who want to swim, sunbathe or watch an unforgettable sunrise or sunset you can do all this in Korea,  Korea is a peninsula surrounded by water so you don’t have to go far to find a nice beach to laze during the summer months.

If you are looking for white sandy beaches head to the eastern coast of Korea which has many beautiful beaches where you can swim, enjoy water sports and enjoy the wide variety of seafood. 
The western coast of Korea has a more rocky coastline with shallow seawater and wide tidal areas.  Here visitors can enjoy all the sea creatures on the tidal flats and the west coast is know for its beautiful sunsets.

Off the southern coast of Korea are countless islands with beautiful beaches.  The Hallyeo National Marine Park is a stunning waterway of islands and rocky outcrops and is accessed from the southern port city of Busan.  Further south is one of the most visited islands of Jeju with its subtropical climate, white sandy beaches, turquoise waters and palm trees – the Hawaii of Korea.

Korea is a land for all seasons, but summertime can be a wonderful time to enjoy the beauty of nature and the great outdoors.  Combine an adventure the country with a stay in Seoul city and you can have the best of both worlds. 

Bukhansan Dulle-gil Walking Trail
It is very easy and cheap to travel around Korea, especially with a Korea Railpass   The ten day adult saver pass for 2-5 people travelling together costs A$131, as little as $13.00 a day to move around the country.

To learn more about all the adventures you can have in Korea this summer request a free full colour guidebook from Korea from Korea Tourism Organization Sydney office       

Email:  visitkorea@knto.org.au or visit the official travel website for Korea to search national parks, walking trails, beaches and much more – www.visitkorea.or.kr

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Reach Out and Touch Korea with a Templestay Experience

Visitors to Korea are being encouraged to take time out from their hectic city lives and enjoy a peaceful and rejuvenating templestay experience. Templestay has become so popular with foreign visitors to Korea there are now sixteen temples offering English templestay programs across the country.

Many of the temples are situated in the most scenic areas of Korea with beautiful mountain scenery, streams and spectacular natural beauty. The templestay program offers two day/one night experiences where you are immersed in Korean Buddhist culture and can enjoy many aspects - meditation with the temple monks, dharma talks, temple food, making lotus lanterns, calligraphy, helping out in the temple garden and much more.

Two day/one night programs are relatively cheap ranging in price from 50,000 Korean won (less than $50) up to 100,000 Korean won (just under A$100). Many temples also offer a 'temple life' program for day trippers for around 20,000 Korean won (less than $20).

You can even enjoy the templestay programs at UNESCO World Heritage Buddhist temples such as Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju and Haeinsa Temple. Bulguksa is the largest and perhaps most beautiful of Korea's temple located in the ancient Shilla capital of Gyeongju. Gyeongju is a wonderful area to visit for a few days with several World Heritage sites including the must-see Seokguram Buddha in the mountains nearby.

If you are interested in martial arts then Golgulsa Temple may appeal with its 'sunmudo', which literally means the 'way of doing meditative martial arts'. It is a traditional Korean Buddhist martial arts which traces its origins back over a thousand years. Golgulsa Temple is built into a massive rock area in the mountains nearby Gyeongju.

There are also Buddhist temples offering the program in the suburbs of Seoul like Bongeunsa Temple located in the southern suburbs of Seoul. Bongeunsa Temple offers the overnight experience as well as daily programs.

For visitors looking for a more in-depth travel experience in Korea where you can reach out and touch the heart of the country, the templestay experience is just the answer.

Information on all the temples involved in the templestay program and how to book can be found on the official templestay website: http://www.templestay.com

For general travel information on Korea visit the official travel website: http://www.visitkorea.or.kr/