Thursday, 30 April 2015

Everyone loves Melbourne

Everyone loves a city with a secret and in Melbourne there are many. Lose yourself in the labyrinth of laneways and discover independent boutiques, eateries and café culture with coffee that is becoming known as some of the best in the world.

Shoppers will be spoilt for choice from new shining icons like Emporium Melbourne and flagship luxury brand stores, to local designer boutiques in the laneways and arts and craft and designer markets in the nearby precincts. 

Melbourne is acknowledged by many as the food capital of Australia for the innovation of its chefs and fresh, quality produce. The city’s eclectic dining scene fuses a myriad of cultures and flavours from all around the world.

A major events capital, Melbourne is home to some of the most exciting international event in the world. The Melbourne Cup and Spring Racing Carnival each November is where the fashion on the field is just as important as the horses. Summer is synonymous with cricket and especially the annual Boxing Day test at Melbourne Cricket Ground. The Australian Open Tennis Championship each January is followed closely by the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in March and the cultural program kicks in with the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Virgin Australia Fashion Festival and Melbourne Food & Wine Festival – all in March. 

With a growing reputation as a creative leader, Melbourne art is sewn into the fabric of the city, at street level, above and below, art is celebrated everywhere from a blockbuster events and exhibitions at world-class galleries to a the famed street art adorning the inner-city lane ways.

Being the second smallest state in Australia has its advantages - within 90 minutes’ drive of the city, you’ll encounter the quintessential Aussie life and native Australian wildlife amongst the stunning bush, hinterland, rainforest, alpine regions and miles of coastline. Victoria is truly the perfect starting point for any Australian adventure.

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Gold Coast to Host Australian Tourism Exchange in 2016

Tourism Australia has announced that Queensland's Gold Coast will play host to the country's largest annual tourism trade show - the Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) - in 2016.

The announcement was made by Tourism Australia's Managing Director John O'Sullivan whilst speaking on Wednesday (April 29) at an industry briefing on the Gold Coast hosted by Tourism and Events Queensland.

The economic benefits of hosting the Australian Tourism Exchange are significant and the Gold Coast economy can expect an immediate $10 million uplift during the five days of the event.

Mr O'Sullivan said it was great to see Australia's premier trade event for attracting international tourism business returning to one of Australia's key regional tourism destinations after the overwhelming success of the ATE14 event in Cairns.

"The Gold Coast has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years, with sizeable investments in tourism infrastructure and international aviation access giving the region a renewed sense of confidence ahead of hosting of the Commonwealth Games in 2018,” Mr O'Sullivan said.

"With its iconic beaches, stunning hinterland and fun theme parks, the Gold Coast will provide a spectacular setting for Australia's tourism industry to showcase their products directly to tourism wholesalers and retailers from around the world.

“The timing of an ATE event on the Gold Coast is particularly appropriate, with 2016 seeing much more emphasis being placed by Tourism Australia upon the international marketing of the country's aquatic and coastal tourism experiences,” he said.

Queensland Minister for Tourism and Major Events Kate Jones said the Gold Coast was primed and ready to host ATE16 for the first time.

“The Australian Tourism Exchange is the largest tourism trade show on the industry's calendar and will connect Queensland tourism businesses directly with 600 international travel buyers who sell Australian holidays in more than 30 countries,” Minister Jones said.

“I welcome the boost this event will provide to Queensland tourism because it means more visitors and more jobs for Queenslanders for years to come.

“On the Gold Coast visitors will discover perfect beaches, hinterland escapes, theme park thrills, and incredible dining and shopping experiences.

“Delegates will also have the opportunity to explore other Queensland destinations spreading the benefits of the Australian Tourism Exchange around the state.”

CEO of Gold Coast Tourism, Martin Winter said, ATE unquestionably represents the single largest opportunity in 2016 for the city and our tourism industry to showcase itself to key influencers of the global travel industry.

“Gold Coast Tourism is delighted to partner with Tourism Australia and Tourism and Events Queensland to ensure these international travel buyers, media and our Australian tourism colleagues fully experience the fun, excitement and warm hospitality that the Gold Coast is famous for.”

Further details, including the dates for the 2016 Australian Tourism Exchange, will be announced in the coming months.

ATE is Australia's annual business-to-business tourism travel trade event, which brings together around 600 travel wholesalers and agents from 38 countries to meet and do business with 1,500 Australian tourism seller delegates from 500 companies.

This year's Australian Tourism Exchange, ATE15, takes place at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre between 21 and 25 June 2015. The event sees a 20 per cent increase in international Buyers compared to last year as well as the highest number of Sellers in four years, including around 100 new Australian tourism products who are participating at ATE for the first time ever.

Air New Zealand: Celebrating 75 years

On 30 April 1940 Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL) – later to become Air New Zealand – operated its first scheduled flight between Auckland and Rose Bay, Sydney on the impressive Short S30 flying boat Aotearoa.

On 30 April 2015, 75 years later, Air New Zealand will celebrate this significant historical milestone with a re-enactment of the inaugural flight on a Harbour City Ferry.

Air New Zealand are taking Harbour City Ferry passengers back to 1940 by transforming the interior of Sydney's iconic Lady Herron ferry into a replica of the Solent aircraft.

The exhibition will remain on the Lady Herron for one week and will reach approximately 1,000 commuters per day.

Air New Zealand: Celebrating 75 years

As New Zealand's national carrier, Air New Zealand and its brand are an integral part of the history and fabric of New Zealand having played a crucial role in facilitating tourism, education, business and trade for more than seven decades.

While technology has certainly enhanced the comfort and experience of flying over the past 75 years, one thing has remained the same and that is the airline's purpose to connect people and provide an exceptional customer experience

To continue achieving this Air New Zealand is significantly investing in new, state of the art aircraft and the adoption of the very latest technologies to ensure travel on Air New Zealand is easy, seamless and above all else enjoyable.

On 30 April 1940 Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL) – later to become Air New Zealand – operated its first scheduled flight between Auckland and Sydney.

After nine hours of flying the flight – operated by the Short S30 flying boat Aotearoa and carrying nine passengers – landed at Rose Bay, Sydney.

Officialdom marked the event with around 50 people attending a ceremony in the pre-dawn darkness before take-off from Auckland. The flight, which marked an important stage in New Zealand's development as a nation, was attended by dignitaries including the Minister of Aviation.

The airline has certainly come a long way - these days the Auckland – Sydney flight takes just over three hours and is operated by Air New Zealand's state of the art jet fleet, including the 787-9 Dreamliner for which the airline was the global launch customer.

To mark the special occasion, the airline will operate a special themed service on the route.

While the service will be flown by the most modern and advanced aircraft in Air New Zealand's fleet, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, onboard it'll be a step back in time with a 1940's menu and a parade of the airline's most fashionable crew uniforms through the years.

Safety videos

  • Air New Zealand continues to create buzz and attract international attention with its reinvention of the traditional inflight safety video – our latest offering 'The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made' features cast members from The Hobbit films and has clocked up more than 24 million views online
  • In 2009, the airline launched its “Bare Essentials” safety video which featured staff wearing nothing but body paint. The launch of the video attracted media attention from CNN, BBC, The Telegraph, Channel 7 Australia and The New York Times
  • Collectively the airline's safety videos have had more than 50 million views online


  • For a remote island destination such as New Zealand, air travel is crucial for both inbound and outbound tourism – the airline operates a comprehensive network with more than 4,000 flights each week to more than 50 destinations.

The exhibition: Air New Zealand 75 years: Our nation. The world. Connected

Air New Zealand launched a free retrospective exhibition to celebrate its 75th anniversary at the country's national museum Te Papa in Wellington in December 2014.

The exhibition – at Te Papa though until June - celebrates the history of the airline and its people across the decades while also giving visitors a glimpse into the future too.

Since opening, the exhibition has attracted more than 200,000 visitors! More than 68,000 people have experienced the virtual reality cabin, a small glimpse into the future of flying. In addition, the Boeing 737 cockpit nose, situated outside Te Papa, has also proven popular with more than 68,000 people trying the Captain's seat for size.

The exhibition took a huge amount of work to pull together. In fact, initially it was estimated that 400 items of footage would need to be catalogued. The actual number turned out to be close to 6,000!

More than 1,700 boxes of heritage items and more than 5,000 photos, advertisements and posters were sorted, along with a staggering 2,220 minutes of video footage digitised.

In a special partnership with another iconic New Zealand organisation, the airline also teamed up with New Zealand Post to issue a commemorative stamp collection to celebrate 75 years of operation. The five stamps showcase the role that Air New Zealand has played in connecting our nation to the world.

Social media

Hashtag: #AirNZ75
Follow us / Share your photos on our Facebook Page / Instagram @airnz / Twitter @airnzaustralia.


In2surf has been declared the leading VEGEMITE Surf Groms delivery centre in NSW for budding wave riders this summer by the nation’s peak boardriding body, Surfing Australia. In the summer of 2014 it came in at No.1 nationally.

Based at Kingscliff, In2surf has been teaching young surfers how to ride waves for seven years.

In2surf owner Josh Fuller said he is proud his school topped the State and came fifth nationwide this season.

“We love teaching people to surf. That’s our passion but we feel that it’s also our duty to educate youngsters about the ocean, our environment and water safety,” said Josh, who has been involved with Surfing Australia’s Vegemite SurfGrom program for four years.

“You must learn proper technique and how to use your equipment correctly but we also teach kids how to have fun in the water with confidence. We put a lot of emphasis on surf safety and the art of reading the beach.”

“Our instructors give the students a lot of freedom to learn by experience as well as teaching them what not to do. Quite a few Tweed schools bring their students to us and that makes certain they get to know the surfing basics at an early age and don’t pick up any bad habits that can cause injury to themselves and others.”

The Vegemite SurfGroms program teaches 5 to 12 year olds surfing skills across five levels, as well as ocean awareness and beach safety; including surf survival, rescue techniques, basic first-aid skills and how to spot changing surf conditions.

The nationwide program was set up by Surfing Australia to ensure Aussie youngsters get the best surf training possible.

“Before a SurfGrom student receives a completion certificate, and their graded wristband for each level, they must have demonstrated they have good ocean awareness and beach safety skills,” said Josh.

“I believe this entry level program is the first of its kind in the world.”

Destination Tweed’s Chief Executive Officer Bill Tatchell said it was great news when a local business was honoured by a national sporting body.

“In2surf is doing a great job for tourism and also helping local kids learn surf safety and how to behave courteously towards others while in the water,” said Bill.

“The award shows that local kids can get the best possible ‘learn-to-surf’ training right here on the Tweed.”

Irish Celebrity Chef Colin Fassnidge Showcases His Home Country

Colin Fassnidge
Dublin-born chef and restaurateur Colin Fassnidge, who has become a celebrity chef in his adopted Australia, is set to appear in a two part series touring around the culinary hotspots of Ireland.

Fassnidge runs two successful restaurants in Sydney, The Four in Hand and 4 Fourteen, and is a judge on popular cooking show My Kitchen Rules, which airs on Channel 7. Now Channel 7 – working with Tourism Ireland – has produced a brand new cookery series called My Ireland with Colin. It will air across Australia on Wednesday 29th (7.30pm) and Thursday 30th April (8.00pm), and is expected to reach an audience of up to one million viewers.

Fassnidge and his film crew travelled around the island of Ireland, capturing footage for My Ireland with Colin – seeking out some of our culinary delights, local produce and hidden gems. He visited his family, remembered his youth growing up in Ireland, and re-discovered the spectacular scenery of Ireland.

Diane Butler, Tourism Ireland's manager for Australia and New Zealand, said: “We were delighted to support Colin Fassnidge and his crew while they were filming his brand new TV series in Ireland. This is a fantastic opportunity to get positive exposure in Australia, showcasing Irish food at its best. The island of Ireland is becoming increasingly well-known for its food offering, with a reputation for high quality, natural produce used in both traditional and innovative dishes. Colin's Ireland will also showcase our spectacular scenery to over one million people, helping to inspire 'foodies' and prospective holidaymakers to come and discover the culinary delights of Ireland for themselves.”

Join the conversation on Twitter: #ColinsIreland

First “Formula E” Grand Prix for Monaco this May before the 73rd annual Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix 2015

In just 10 days the first Monaco ePrix will take to the principality's streets commencing May 9, 2015. A new FIA Championship, Formula E showcases electrical-energy innovations in a racing environment. Held across 10 cities, the championship sees 10 teams – each with two drivers – go head-to-head in electric single-seater racing cars capable of speeds in excess of 225km/h.

The Monaco ePrix will be race seven in the series, and underpins the sport's commitment to promoting new energy and sustainability.

The Monaco Grand Prix is widely regarded as one of the most important, not to mention prestigious, automobile races in the world. In its 73rd year, the event is set to attract thousands of spectators across four days, from May 21 – 24, 2015.

Held on one of the sport's most challenging tracks, weaving through the streets of Monaco, with elevation changes, tight corners and a tunnel, the Grand Prix is the sixth round of the event calendar.

Double-reigning champion, German Nico Rosberg (Mercedes – AMG Petronas) will return to try and win here for a third time in a row, with hot competition courtesy of teammate Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.

For further information about tickets and programmes for both events please consult the website of the Automobile Association de Monaco

Cape to Cape (Margaret River) Walk Sets a New Bar for Luxury Walks

Yesterday marked the launch of the Cape to Cape (Margaret River) Walk by Walk into Luxury. The new small group walk offers guests a chance to enjoy world-class food and wine, luxurious accommodation at two oceanfront Small Luxury Hotels of the World, and spectacular walking on the best sections of the Cape to Cape track. Exclusive experiences such as feature dinners, a winery lunch, and clifftop sunset drinks and didgeridoo performance are also included on this luxury walk unlike any other.

Walking is limited to between 3 and 5 hours each day, with plenty of time free for guests to relax and enjoy their luxurious accommodation, the beaches and pristine surroundings. Guests can look forward to relaxing in their oceanfront villa, taking a dip in their private plunge pool and enjoying Margaret River wine and cheese as the sunsets over the west coast in the evening. A post-walk massage at award-winning Injidup Spa post-walk will also help the relaxation process. When it is time to dine, guests will not be left wanting. The Cape Lodge tasting menu with matched wines is a stand-out, as is the lunch at 2014 Regional Restaurant of the Year, Wills Domain. Wine tastings, gourmet walking snack hampers/lunches and in-villa wine and boutique beers are also included. And guests can relax knowing that absolutely everything is included in the price.

The Cape to Cape (Margaret River) Walk is, as the name suggests, located on the Cape to Cape track in Western Australia. The track is one of Australia's best walks and is considered by many to be Australia's premier coastal walk. The track traverses some 135km from Cape Naturalist to Cape Leeuwin along Australia's South Western edge. Walk into Luxury has hand-selected the most scenic sections of the walk and sections that showcase the diverse mix of terrain, flora and fauna found in the area. And there are plenty to see, with the track forming part of a world biodiversity hotspot with many plant species found nowhere else in the world. The terrain is an enticing mix of turquoise beaches, granite and limestone clifftops, coastal bush and magnificent karri forest. The whale migration along the Cape to Cape coastline from June to November is visible from the track, and an array of wildlife including emus, kangaroos and an array of native birds, are spotted on and around the track year round.

It is the extraordinary experience offered both on and off the track that makes the Cape to Cape (Margaret River) Walk something truly special.

The walk is also unique in that it is structured to ensure there is plenty of time for guests to relax away from the group. This is a constant amongst all walks offered by Walk into Luxury, with the new small group walk complementing Walk into Luxury's existing private walk options (which currently include a 4 day and an 8 day walk that can be completed self-guided or with a private guide). Walk into Luxury considers this balance between group and private time to be crucial, and is one of the ways the Cape to Cape (Margaret River) Walk offers a new way to walk. Discover the Walk into Luxury difference for yourself.

Pricing and additional information

The Cape to Cape (Margaret River) Walk is priced at $2990 pp (twin share) ex Perth. Pricing is all-inclusive of luxury accommodation, all food and wine including in-villa beverages, post-walk massage, feature experiences, guided walking, luggage and track transfers and return transfers from Perth to Margaret River. For the detailed itinerary, please visit [insert detailed itinerary tab].

A 5 day package option is also available which (in addition to the above) includes one night luxury accommodation at the Richardson Hotel and Spa in Perth with breakfast (pre or post walk), and return Perth airport transfers. Priced at $3350 pp (twin share).

Walk dates and bookings

The Cape to Cape (Margaret River) Walk departs weekly on Sundays, with the first walk departing on 23 August 2015. For availability and to book, visit or contact The minimum guest number is two, with up to 10 guests able to be accommodated per week.

I Could NOT Believe What I Saw When I Zoomed In On This Drawing… NO WAY!

Known worldwide as the “Typewriter Artist,” Paul Smith’s story spans eight decades, seven in which he created typewriter art. Having a severe case of spastic cerebral palsy that affected his speech, his mobility, and his fine motor coordination, Paul’s life began when opportunities were limited.

In his time, Paul was not entitled to a mainstream education – he was not taught to read or write. Physicians were still recommending that children with his form of cerebral palsy be institutionalized. And, medical care wasn’t as progressive.

When Paul was born on September 21, 1921 in Philadelphia, his doctors didn’t believe he would live too long. He beat those odds by living to the ripe old age of 85 – far longer than the average lifespan for an adult male.

It would not be the only time he beat the odds. Though his condition made it difficult for him to grasp pens or pencils, eat, dress, or express his thoughts, he persevered. It took him 16 years to learn to speak – and 32 to learn to walk.

But Paul’s claim to fame – the achievement that has made him a source of inspiration to people in the art community and at all levels of ability – is his mastery of a common office machine as an artistic medium. He paints with a manual typewriter.

And by the time Paul quit creating beautiful pictures with thousands of delicate key strokes, he left behind hundreds of extraordinary, thought-provoking pieces that make a statement not only about their subject matter, but especially about how they were created.

Each keystroke helps is carefully placed

There’s not a lot of information about Paul’s early life other than he was born with cerebral palsy, his family moved from Philadelphia to Hollywood, Florida, near trains and train tracks – common subjects of his earlier art creations.

Paul developed an interest in creating typewriter art when he was 11-years-old and had started toying with a typewriter his neighbor had discarded. His creations became an outlet for a child that turned to new ways to express himself since being non-verbal he could not easily convey his feelings to others. Because he could not easily grip artist’s tools such as pencils, pens, markers, pastels or paint brushes, he turned to the typewriter.

The subjects of Paul’s art were publicly recognizable. He enjoyed creating pictures of animals, still lifes, nature, war scenes, spiritual symbols, and outdoor scenes. His works included his childhood fascination with trains; his affinity towards a squirrel he befriended; spiritual leaders such as the Pope, Jesus and Mother Theresa; war scenes and country hero’s. He also created pictures of well-known art he admired, including Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker,” and Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze’s “Washington Crossing the Delaware.”

It’s not so much the subject that is remarkable about Paul’s work, it’s the painstaking skill of using symbols on a typewriter to form perfect replicas of existing work, and innovative representations of his surroundings.

Paul’s images, perhaps surprisingly, were created using only a handful of symbol keys – !, @, #, %, ^, _, (, &, ) – which were accessible along the top row of his typewriter keyboard. Remarkable, when a person considers that manual typewriters required the ribbons to be positioned, the roller to be adjusted, and the paper to be secured. Typewriters, of that era, left no room for error since erasing mistaken keystrokes was not a clean option.

As he typed, he would secure the shift key in a locked position to make sure that he didn’t inadvertently type numbers. He used his left hand to steady his right. Different symbols created the look of varied textures, and depending on the look Paul was attempting to achieve, he would adjust the spacing to type the symbols in short proximity, or far. And, he adjusted the roller to perfect spaces between lines.

As technology advanced, his art evolved. The invention of color typewriter ribbons, gave Paul the flexibility to layer in color. He would soon press his thumb on the ribbon to create shade. By using keystrokes, repetition, and an eraser, his pictures took on less of a pen-and-ink look and more of a pastel and charcoal appearance. He would preplan his approach and develop a scaling system to reproduce photographs.

Depending on the nature of a picture – how large it was, and how complex – it could take anywhere from two weeks to three months to complete one piece. He worked, on average, a couple hours every day on his art. After all of that work, one wouldn’t blame Paul if he sought to sell his work, but by all accounts, he would give away his pieces. As his distinctive artform gained intrique from others, the number of orders for artwork increased.

He would sign his work by typing his name, usually along the bottom right corner of the page.

There’s also little evidence that Paul’s work was widely published outside of a handful of online references and book mentions. For him, creating art was a leisurely pursuit and a form of expression. He didn’t believe he had talent, as much as he believed his talent was a special gift not produced by effort. To the art world, he set a high bar for typewriter artists that many have tried to match, but few are able to replicate.

A lasting legacy

Today, we see individuals with disabilities participating in the arts in ways Paul could likely not imagine. Computers and software technologies have long replaced typewriters. They have opened new avenues for art, photography, filmmaking, and design. Technological tools are available today that have leveled the playing field for artists, no matter what their physical abilities are.

But Paul had no such benefits as he developed and refined his techniques; he simply had his fingers and an office machine that today, many young people would not recognize. Nor would they realize the monotonous sound of the typewriter ring as he neared the right margin. It’s a lesson that many people take pride to acknowledge – sometimes, a low-tech approach can yield beautiful results. Generations, can still be intrigued by the hands of those who are no longer with us, raised in different times.

It’s impossible to know how many pictures Paul created during his long life – some estimate over 400 pieces. That work remains an inspiration to artists everywhere; especially among those that accommodate for disability. Paul’s work proves that with some patience and ingenuity, all things are possible.

Gracious and humble

The boy, born and raised by his parents in Hollywood, Florida grew to be a man many described as gracious and humble, patient and kind. In 1967 after his parents had passed, Paul moved into the Rose Haven Nursing Center, a residential facility in Roseburg, Oregon. While there, he indulged in a wide array of interests – he became a master chess player, was a member of the Knights of Columbus, and was a devout member of the St. Joseph Catholic Church. He was an avid fan of the Miami Dolphins and typed while listening to classical music. He did not marry, nor have children.

Although Paul would type several hours a day for nearly 70 years, his career as a typewriter artist would succomb to the effects of aging, not to his cerebral palsy. According to reports, he developed cataracts, which in 2004 ended his long, prolific career as the typewriter artist.

Ironically, the Internet today has provided Paul’s art with more exposure than technology had allowed, back then. His work is featured on several sites, including those created by other artists that have drawn inspiration from his work and his story.

Additionally, Paul was featured in a handful of news reports that are available on YouTube and on other file sharing sites, including a feature in the 1988 episode of ABC TV’s “Incredible Sunday” with John Davidson.

On June 25, 2007, he died having left behind a unique legacy filled with exceptional imagery. More than that, Paul’s body of work represents what is possible when a person puts their mind to something that others said would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.

It’s often said that a true artist does not achieve notoriety or recognition within his or her lifetime. Happily for Paul, that did not come to pass.

Since Paul struck the first key on his typewriter in the mid-1930s, the way artists with disabilities create art has notably changed. What has not changed is the drive and willpower required to master a skill, and perform it well. For that, we remember the typewriter artist.

Music Icon Grace Jones Returns for Modulations at Vivid Sydney

Grace Jones
Internationally lauded artist, fashion icon and music superstar Grace Jones, will perform exclusively for Australian audiences during Modulations at Carriageworks, as part of Vivid Sydney, the world's largest festival of light, music and ideas.

Performing for two nights only on Sunday 31 May and Monday 1 June, this will be Jones' only Australian appearances and her first visit to Sydney since her sell-out shows in 2011. Tickets will be in high demand to see the music superstar in this intimate setting for her Sydney-exclusive performances.

NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres said, “This year's Vivid Sydney program continues to expand and attract international stars and Grace Jones' two Australian-exclusive performances are set to be another standout of the festival's music program. After the huge success of the inaugural Modulations program in 2014 where audiences were treated to intimate performances from iconic pop duo the Pet Shop Boys, Modulations has raised the bar once again and I have no doubt tickets to Grace Jones will be in a high demand. ”

Carriageworks Director, Lisa Havilah said, “Grounded in music but crossing into art, design and food, Modulationsis designed to celebrate contemporary arts and creativity across multiple art forms.”

“Grace Jones is the perfect artist to headline our second Modulations program. Jones is the quintessential cross-disciplinary artist, having worked in film, music, art and design; she has collaborated with countless world-renowned artists. She is one of the original female music industry pioneers and a true cultural innovator of our generation. We are thrilled to be bringing her to Sydney in partnership with Modular Music and Destination NSW.”

Modulations Creative Director Stephen Pavlovic said Jones is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential music and fashion icons of the 20th century, and her reputation for electric on-stage performances makes this a must-see music event.

“Grace Jones at Modulationswill be a rare opportunity to experience a true music legend in the intimate and immersive spaces at Carriageworks. A truly iconic singer, songwriter, model, actor and all round enigma. Her live sets are duly renowned as nothing short of incredible, segueing from disco to funk, from pop to punk, all presented within a visual spectacular as stunning as the musical artistry. Grace's performance promises to be unmissable.”

Grace Jones started out as a model, working for Yves Saint Laurent, Claude Montana, and Kenzo Takada, and appearing on the covers of Elle, Vogue, and Stern working with Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin, and Hans Feurer. In the late 70s Jones secured a record deal with Island Records; with the aid of Compass Point All Stars she moved into new wave in 1980. She scored Top 40 entries on the UK Singles Chart with "Pull Up to the Bumper", "I've Seen That Face Before", "Private Life", "Slave to the Rhythm" and "I'm Not Perfect". Her list of award-wining hits is endless on seminal albums ranging from Warm Leatherette (1980), Nightclubbing(1981), and Slave to the Rhythm (1985).

In 1999, Jones ranked 82nd on VH1's 100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll, and in 2008, she was honored with a Q Idol Award. Jones is widely recognised for having influenced fashion movements of the 1980s and has been an inspiration for an endless list of artists: Annie Lennox, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Brazilian Girls, Santigold, and Basement Jaxx.

Modulations returns with an expanded program this year set across two jam-packed weekends promising six days of exclusive music performances, contemporary ideas and innovative food experiences as part of Vivid Sydney.

Foodies will be thrilled to know that Modulations will once again pair its sophisticated music line-up with a unique food experience. ITALO DINING AND DISCO CLUB is the ultimate food and music partnership. Celebrated Sydney restaurants Icebergs Dining Room & Bar, Da Orazio Pizza + Porchetta, Fratelli Paradiso and 10williamst come together to present a weekend of Italian specialities, natural wines and itallo disco legends for Modulations. ITALO DINING AND DISCO CLUB will be held on Sunday 31 May, Monday 1 June, Tuesday 2 June, Friday 5 June, Saturday 6 June and to Sunday 7 June from 5pm til late at Carriageworks, a one-stop shop for food and music.

On Friday 5 and Saturday 6 June, living jazz legend saxophonist Pharoah Sanders performs two nights only. Thisvery special music event brings a slice of jazz history to Sydney.Described by Ornette Coleman as the greatest tenor sax player of all-time, Pharoah Sanders' roots lie in the free jazz scene of the San Francisco Bay Area. After moving to New York in 1961, where he played with contemporaries Don Cherry and Sun Ra before joining John Coltrane's band, Sanders recorded a string of landmark albums. On the back of his acclaimed performance this January in the Sydney Festival concerts in the Atomic Bomb line up, Modulations brings this music icon back for his much-deserved moment in the spotlight to perform two career defining albums over two nights.

On Saturday 6 June, another legendary musician and enfant terrible of the music world, Bill Drummond talks about his work. Bill Drummond was half of the KLF – one of the UK's biggest successes of the early 1990s and ultimately the most notorious pop culture agitators of the 20th Century. Drummond will present a keynote address and unveil a new artwork, in a hotly anticipated public discussion by this music industry provocateur.

On Sunday 7 June, three Sydney dance club institutions combine forces to create the dance party to end all parties. Relentless dance party creative and entrepreneurs Pelvis join Sydney gay club icons Kooki and techno trouble-makers Motorik to curate a spectacular extravaganza of dance music, art and imagination. Expect an explosion of creativity, bringing artists from around the world to fill three dedicated spaces. The Kooki, Pelvis, Motorik party promises the ultimate musical nirvana for dance lovers.

Vivid Sydney is owned and managed by the NSW Government's tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW and transforms the city into a colourful canvas of light, music and ideas for 18 nights from 22 May to 8 June.

For more information on Vivid Sydney and to book tickets for Modulations visit

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

It's a Hatrick for Atura Hotels – Victorian Expansion Celebrated With Official Launch of Atura Dandenong

Atura Dandenong
On the border of Melbourne's Dandenong and Casey Cardinia suburbs lies the latest instalment of the Atura Hotels brand – Atura Dandenong. Formerly known as Chifley Doveton, the hotel has been refurbished and re-imagined to fit with Atura's signature urban, industrial style.

The third instalment in the Atura Hotel story, the 128-room Dandenong Hotel follows the opening of multi-award-winning Atura Blacktown in late 2013 and the opening of Atura Albury in early 2015.

Owned and operated by Amalgamated Holdings Limited (AHL), which also owns and manages QT Hotels & Resorts, Art Series Hotels and Rydges Hotels, the hip, high-energy Atura Hotels has been designed to appeal to young, savvy business and leisure travellers seeking fresh, experiential accommodation at affordable prices.

The area surrounding Atura Dandenong is home to some of Victoria's fastest-growing business park precincts which are creating a growing need for new, innovative accommodation and conferencing options.

“With a focus on innovated design packed with value and personality, Atura Hotels offers the design-savvy traveler a break from the everyday with a completely fresh take on mid-market travel” said David Seargeant, Managing Director of AHL. “TheAtura Dandenong launch, the first outside New South Wales, is testament to the success and appeal of Atura and of our dynamic flagship property Atura Blacktown.

“This is the right time and destination for us to introduce Atura Hotels to Victoria.” Said Mr Seargeant.

With a philosophy to deliver a fresh, design-inspired approach to the mid-market accommodation offering, Atura Hotels delivers guests an affordable design driven experience packed with unexpected surprises and the latest in technology.

The building itself was designed by Peter Israel who was the architect on Atura Blacktown and the renovation project of the public spaces was led by renowned QT Hotels & Resorts and Atura Hotels interior designer Nic Graham. Industrial styling sets the backdrop to bespoke furniture and design-led finishes with an urban, industrial and art-inspired edge.

Atura's Roadhouse Bar and Grill, a little 'Grab and Go' section with all the treats plus a business centre with complimentary printer and Apple® hardware are popular additions to the hotel offering. Guest minibars will be stocked with funky, fun and functional provisions and rooms all boast a coffee pod machines with free pods and bathroom amenities by leading New York skincare provider Malin + Goetz. Visitors to the hotel will enjoy genuine service and the connection with local communities that Atura is becoming known for – particularly the local art galleries and Atura Dandenong's partnership with the acclaimed Drum Theatre.

Unique to the Atura Dandenong property is the onsite Brownstone Micro Brewery which boasts a great range of craft beers and Atura's first boutique brew which was hand-crafted by brewery consultant - renowned brewer Steve “Hendo” Henderson..

“We're excited about the launch of Atura Dandenong and believe the it's dynamic, urban style will be a great addition to the local accommodation, entertainment and dining offering,” said Geoff York, Director of Development and Operations, Atura Hotels. “We are looking forward to supporting the local community and growing the property's appeal through local conferencing, wedding and special events and as an accommodation destination for the locals and traveler alike.”

“From a local perspective we are particularly excited about our onsite micro-brewery which is now known as The Brownstone Microbrewery,” said Geoff. “We have some great plans in place to see this become one of the region's most popular casual, relaxed dining and 'night-out' destinations, not to mention the launch of Atura's own brand of boutique, hand-crafted beers.”

Pitcairn Islands to Become Home to World's Largest Marine Reserve

Pitcairn Islands
The British Government has recently taken action to create the world's largest fully protected marine reserve around the Pitcairn Islands, a British overseas territory in the South Pacific Ocean.

The reserve will cover an area of 834,334-square-kilometre and is slightly larger than the size of New South Wales. Home to at least 1,249 species of marine mammals, seabirds and fish, the new reserve protects some of the most near-pristine ocean habitat on Earth.

Since March 2012 The Pitcairn Islands Council has been working with National Geographic's "Pristine Seas" project and UK-based PEW Charitable Trust to conduct scientific exploratory expeditions and preparing a proposal calling for creation of a marine reserve to protect Pitcairn's spectacular waters.

"Pitcairn Islands Tourism is guided by the principles of sustainable tourism development. The creation of the marine reserve adds a new dimension to our tourism offering. " said Pitcairn's Travel Coordinator, Heather Menzies. "Together with our World Heritage listed Henderson Island and our warm and hospitable people, who are a living history from the Bounty mutiny in 1789, we are a truly unique travel destination".

"With the support of a number of international scientific and conservation organisations, Pitcairn Islanders are committed to preserving our pristine environment" Menzies added. "Allowing visitors to experience one of the most intact natural marine areas in the world".

Pitcairn Islands
The Pitcairn Islands can be reached by regular shipping service from French Polynesia. Full details about travelling to Pitcairn Island and current shipping schedules are available on the Pitcairn islands Tourism website or contact Tropics Marketing toll-free on 1300 713 132 and email

Canada Introduces Electronic Entry Authorisation for Travellers

Australian citizens visiting Canada will soon need to obtain an electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) before flying to Canada. This new requirement is mandatory from 15 March 2016, however, travellers may apply online for their eTA from 1 August 2015.

The initiative, introduced by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, requires Australian travellers, who do not require a visa to enter Canada, to apply online, providing basic personal information similar to what is currently collected when they arrive in Canada.

The simple application process will be convenient and paperless, and most applicants will have their eTA approved within minutes. In addition, the new eTA system means travellers to Canada can expect a faster service upon arrival at the border.

The eTA, designed to protect the integrity of Canada's immigration system, will cost $7 Canadian per individual and will be valid for up to five years from the date of issue.

For further information visit:

Upper Hunter Wine and Food Affair - Denman

The Hunter's best street party will be celebrating its 12th year in 2015.

Wine lovers take the opportunity to stock your cellar with some of the Hunter's best wines. Leading Upper Hunter wineries will be showcasing their wines and will be available for sale on the day. 

Food lovers will be able to tempt their taste buds with an extravaganza of gourmet foods available to purchase.Renowned local chefs will be cooking up a storm and there will be a wonderful array of locally made fresh produce such as olives, cheese, breads and chocolate that will certainly satisfy the most ravenous of appetites.

There will be a variety of Jazz bands and helicopter rides, along with an array of entertainment for the whole family. The children will have the time of their lives at 'kids corner' with Jake the Magician, Sparkles the Clown, and much more.

When: Saturday 02 May 2015

For more information:


Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) has released a new promotional advertisement 'Korea, the Age of Imagination' to time with the release of the new Hollywood blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron.

The new comic hero style KTO advertisement was devised to boost Korea's brand image as a tourist destination in relation to the filming of the Avengers sequel in Seoul. Avengers: Age of Ultron was shot last year in various areas of Korea including Sebitseom (also known as Floating Island Seoul), Hangang River, Digital Media City (DMC), and Gangnam-daero Boulevard.

The film premiered in Australian cinemas last week and is expected to be seen by huge audiences worldwide. Aussie heartthrob and Avengers star Chris Hemsworth stars as the superhero Thor in the movie.

The new advertisement offers a look into the unique lives and culture of Korea such as the 24/7 food delivery service, nightlife of Seoul, traditional food and art, and the haenyeo (women divers) of Jeju Island.

KTO decided to introduce heroes who represent Korea’s culture and tradition. These heroes are neither K-pop superstars nor famous actors. They are actually far from the spotlight. They are real masters who are superbly skilled at diverse cultural assets of Korea.

For example, portrayed as a black mermaid in the commercial, Kim Jae-yeon is a haenyeo who follows in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother as she dives into the deep waters for shellfish with no breathing equipment. Against Seongsan Ilchulbong Sunrise Peak, a famous volcanic crater in Jeju Island, Kim emerges from the sea like a mermaid. Thick rustic black full-length bodysuits and old-fashioned goggles are symbols of Jeju Island and the strong women of the island. Kim says, “haenyeo preserve the sea and Mother Nature, we coexist in it. I would like to keep my work and save the heritage.”

The people featured in the advertisement are masters of Korean culture and lifestyle:
  • Chef and traditional Korean food researcher, Shim Young Soon, (referred to as “Madame Shim” in the ad) has devoted more than 35 years of her life to developing and enriching Korean cuisine. 
  • Jinmyung, a traditional Korean percussion group, reinterprets traditional folk music for younger listeners. In the commercial, the group performs a splendid ribbon spinning dance in Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage site of Korea. 
  • The electronic band IDIOTAPE introduces itself as “the idiosyncratic triad hotwiring Seoul’s live club circuit.” And like they say, you will get a glance of the nightlife of Seoul, a city that never sleeps. 
  • In Korea, you can order food whenever, and wherever. Food delivery men (“D-man” in the commercial) are easily spotted on their scooters on the streets of Korea. 

Claudia Kim (Korean name Kim Soo-hyun), a Korean actress who plays the role of Dr. Cho in Avengers: Age of Ultron, narrates the commercial. Claudia Kim explains that “the crew and actors of the movie were so amazed when filming in Korea.” And “I’m very excited and grateful to have been given the opportunity to introduce the hidden heroes of Korea who have contributed to making Korea a better place, and who also represent well Korean culture and history.”

You can view the 30 second and extended 1 minute 30 second versions at the following links:

America's Top Rating Breakfast Show to Broadcast Live From Sydney

One of America's top rating morning shows NBC's TODAY to host a special live broadcast from Sydney on Monday 4 May 2015.

“The US is a priority market for the NSW Government and we are delighted to welcome one of the world's most popular television programs to Sydney,” NSW Premier Mike Baird  said.

“This broadcast will beam images of Sydney into the homes of the show's 5.6 million American fans and show up in the feeds of more than 4 million TODAY Facebook followers.

“Australian-born TODAY anchor Savannah Guthrie will travel to Sydney to host the live broadcast from 9pm to 11pm at an iconic Sydney location.

“The NSW Government is committed to attracting more visitors to the state to achieve our goal of doubling overnight visitor expenditure by 2020.

“More than 323,000 visitors travelled to NSW from North America in the year ending September 2014. These visitors stayed 4.3 million nights, providing a $535 million boost to the local economy.

“This is a golden opportunity to showcase NSW to the lucrative US audience and we'll work with TODAY's producers to promote the state as a must-see tourism destination.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres said the broadcast deal was secured by the NSW Government's major events and tourism agency Destination NSW in partnership with Qantas.

“A similar partnership with Ellen De Generes in 2013 resulted in a 22 per cent increase in inbound ticket sales from the USA to Sydney compared with normal levels,” Mr Ayres said.

“We are looking to maximise the potential of this opportunity. Destination NSW will work with Qantas to offer travel packages to further promote the state to US audiences.”

Bondi Beach
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “As the national carrier, Qantas is a big supporter of Australian tourism. The US is a key target market for our local tourism operators and Qantas is the number one choice for people travelling across the Pacific, so we're excited to be working with Destination NSW to market Sydney to such a big audience.”

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Chef Eddie Fong creates at Cicada Lodge.

Eddie Fong
Senior management announce the appointment of Mr Eddie Fong as the new signature chef at Cicada Lodge. “I come from a new generation of chefs where knowledge is everything and contemporary perspectives on classic dishes are the foundations of a menu”, said Eddie. “Breaking the boundaries, thinking outside the square, and providing art in the form of cuisine is where my passion lies, and I believe this fits with the service level and reputation of Cicada Lodge”.

“We are very happy to welcome Eddie to the Cicada Lodge team” said Manager, Ms Joanne Walters. “In its 2 years of operation, Cicada Lodge has earned a reputation for quality dining with the emphasis on local produce and native ingredients and flavours. This success has seen the Lodge win a number of accolades in the Northern Territory AHA Awards. We now see Eddie as taking the dining experience at the Lodge to the next level and catering to a broader market”.

“The people that know me and my family will understand that food is the cornerstone of all events and that we are known to host and organise large functions as a family. So food has always come natural to me in terms of knowledge of food and diverse ways to use produce, “said Eddie.

“As a Kiwi chef, we at home are privileged to be exposed to great food and wine which culminates in great chefs being produced back home. My career started in the Viaduct precinct of Auckland City working for some very great chefs and kitchen managers. I then moved to rural NZ into a small establishment, where we learnt to diversify our skillset. Moving forward, Auckland became home again and then the big move to Australia.

Australia has provided me with great opportunities, more notably in the Northern Territory to really expand my knowledge of food. A real unknown to the world of food is the great indigenous spices, fruits and herbs which are ever present in restaurants in the NT. My vision for Cicada Lodge is to be known as the premiere indigenous fusion restaurant in Australia – taking the indigenous ingredients of Australia and combining this with classical European techniques and dishes”.

Sunday, 26 April 2015


Extended late night opening hours during Vivid Sydney will be in operation for a new exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The exhibition, Light Show, features 20 installations and sculptures by international artists from the 1960s to the present. Many of the installations have been specially re-created for the exhibition.

Exhibition highlights include the pioneering minimalist sculptures of American Dan Flavin, composed of off-the-shelf fluorescent tubes, French artist François Morellet’s work in neon and David Batchelor’s use of bright, industrially-produced colour. It also features immersive environmental installations by Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez, James Turrell, Anthony McCall and Ann Veronica Janssens, among others.

Light Show is at the MCA now until Sunday, 5 July 2015, and will coincide with Vivid Sydney (22 May to 8 June 2015), the largest festival of light, music and ideas in the world.

Are You a 'Simplicity Searcher' or a 'Social Capital Seeker'? New Study Reveals How and Why We Will Travel by 2030

By 2030 more than 1.8 billion of us will travel internationally every year, and what motivates us as well as how we behave will be radically different to today.

By the end of the next decade, some people will purchase and consume travel experiences almost entirely on the basis of how shareable they are, or how much 'capital' they generate, via social networks. Another group of travellers will demand total simplicity and freedom from having to arrange their own travel by 2030, wanting as much as possible to be done remotely, by third parties. At the same time, a dedicated group will emerge with a desire for only the most hedonistic, indulgent and must-have experiences.

These are just some of the forecasts made in Future Traveller Tribes 2030: understanding tomorrow's traveller, a major new report which launches today identifying the different traveller personalities and segments the industry can expect to emerge and become prominent over the next fifteen years.

The research process involved interviews and workshops with industry experts as well as trend-spotting research with consumers in the relevant travel markets including Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea. Taking a psychographic rather than demographic approach, the report draws on Future Foundation's proprietary consumer research forecasts to identify the six distinct traveller personalities as:
  • Social Capital Seekers will structure their holidays almost exclusively with online audiences in mind, relying heavily on peer reviews and recommendations to validate their decisions. A whole new market may open up based on “profile-boosting breaks”, filled with consciously feed-friendly moments
  • Cultural Purists will look at holiday-making as a chance to immerse oneself in an alien - even uncomfortably so - culture, where enjoyment of the break depends on the authenticity of the experience
  • Ethical Travellers will make travel plans based on moral grounds, for example, decreasing their carbon footprint or improving the lives of others. They will often improvise or add some element of volunteering, community development or eco-sustainable activity to their holidays
  • Simplicity Searchers will prefer bundled offers, seeking to avoid managing too many trip details themselves. Holidays for this tribe represent a rare time in life to pamper oneself with the assurance of their safety and enjoyment
  • Obligation Meeters will be driven by a specific purpose for travel, whether business or leisure, and thus have constraints on time and budget; they will seek smart algorithm based technology that is able to remove the hassle of travel
  • Reward Hunters are only interested in indulgent travel. Many have come to crave something that represents an extraordinary reward or 'must have' premium experience, a return on their hard earned investment of time and energy in their working lives

“The traveller today has more power than ever before. They are increasingly complex, empowered, and no longer want to be siloed into demographic groups of age, nationality and income. By 2030, hyper-customisation will be the default expectation among many customers. With Asia Pacific set to lead global travel growth through to 2030, it is particularly critical for all providers, buyers and sellers of travel in the region to truly understand these emerging 'traveller tribes' and make the right investment decisions now to gear towards future traveller preferences. Amadeus is playing a leading role in driving the travel industry forward is are working closely with our customers and partners to deliver a future travel experience that is more personalised, connected and sustainable,” commented Angel Gallego, President, Amadeus Asia Pacific

Nick Chiarelli, Director, Future Foundation commented: “Our research shows not just that the type of experience demanded by travellers in 2030 will be different to 2015 but that the way travellers buy and engage with the industry is also set to change. Over the next 15 years the desire to share travel experiences will be profound, and so too the impact of sharing on inspiration and purchase trends will grow. As consumers in developed markets approach a post-material era we expect a much greater focus on, first of all, experience, and second of all, ethics, both environmental and social, to significantly influence people's travel choices and behaviours.”

To download the report and to see which tribe you belong to, please visit

In June, you will be able to download a second complementary report, written by Frost & Sullivan, examining how the travel industry can specifically cater to the needs and individual purchasing habits of the six tribes identified in FutureTraveller Tribes 2030: understanding tomorrow's traveller.

To find out what today's travellers in Asia Pacific really think, take a look at Amadeus' Travel Lounge videos. For more industry insights head over to

Why Are Safari Holidays More Expensive?

Exotic wildlife, untouched wilderness, and captivating cultures… it's safe to assume that going on an African safari holiday is on pretty much everyone's bucket list! However for many of our Australian clients who are used to relatively cheap but luxurious holidays in Asia, it comes as a shock to learn how expensive a safari holiday can be. For those of you unfamiliar with the pricing, one night on safari can range from roughly AUD 300pp all the way up to AUD 3,500pp depending on the location and level of luxury. There is simply no avoiding the fact that a safari holiday will be among the most expensive trips you take, but we can guarantee it will also be among the most amazing. This blog post explains the reasons safari camps have higher rates and gives our tips to get the best value for money.

The biggest reason that safari camps have high rates is precisely the reason why people want to go on safari – being in the middle of pristine bush. In general, safari areas in Africa have little to no infrastructure in place so it is expensive to build and operate a camp with even the most basic requirements such as electricity, food preparation, running water, and waste management. Once you leave the capital cities of many countries, airports become dirt airstrips only suitable for light aircraft flights and roads are often poorly maintained so getting building materials, supplies and staff to safari camps can be difficult and costly. Everything guests use and consume while at a safari camp has had to be brought in – there is no nipping down to the shop to pick up some milk if you run out! Keeping a lodge running properly takes careful logistical planning because they are so isolated and even basic food may be difficult to obtain. And let's not forget the maintenance and fuel costs of powerful 4x4 safari vehicles used all day, every day.

Another vital but expensive aspect of the safari experience is the high numbers of staff in the camp. Safari camps have several times the number of staff as guests, and generally all of the staff live at the camp due to their remote locations so accommodation, meals, uniforms, transport, and toiletries have to be provided in addition to their salaries. Many guests many not realise that aside from the managers, guides, and waiters/barmen which they see every day, there are also many people behind the scenes taking care of the kitchen, housekeeping, laundry, building & vehicle maintenance, gardening, security, and anti-poaching patrols.

And lastly, the price of your safari includes park and conservation fees which are critical in the protection of these beautiful natural areas and their often endangered wildlife. Many camps also donate large portion of their profit to the local communities, supporting local schools, hospitals, and community projects that would not be there otherwise. As part of their conservation efforts most safari camps practice “high quality-low density” tourism, so rather than lots of guests paying lower rates they prefer to have a few guests pay higher rates which protects fragile ecosystems from mass human traffic.

So yes Africa may be expensive compared to other destinations in the world, but we know you would be hard pressed to find a traveller who didn't believe the price of their safari was worth every penny. There are certainly ways to keep down costs as well – below are our tips for getting a good deal on a safari holiday:


Budget conscious travellers should stick to South Africa where rates are priced in ZAR (South African Rand) as opposed to USD like most other countries. At the time of writing this post, 1 AUD equals 9 ZAR and 0.75 USD. Also South Africa has much better infrastructure so getting to safari camps is easier and cheaper, and rates are lower because most camps have access to established power grids, water systems etc. Lastly, South Africa has many other types of experiences to enjoy so you can incorporate a few expensive nights on safari into a broader holiday where you are paying normal prices to visit cities, wine regions, coastal towns, mountain ranges, and beaches.


Travel in “Green Season” when camps offer significantly discounted rates and your safari experience will be more exclusive due to lower tourist numbers. While this is the rainy season, this simply means that most days you are likely to have an afternoon thunderstorm that comes and goes. In theory, the downside of this time of year (aside from some rain) is that the grass is longer which makes finding wildlife more tricky, but the rain brings an explosion of colour, plant life, babies being born, and migrant birds which makes for a truly special safari and amazing photographs.


In East Africa (Kenya & Tanzania) you generally have one driver/guide and a 4x4 safari vehicle that stays with you the entire time, so the more people in your group the less each person pays for transport, guiding, and game drives (which makes up a huge chunk of the overall safari cost). Most vehicles can fit 7 people, so convince some friends to join you on your safari holiday so you can all have a much cheaper price than if only a couple of you were travelling at one time.


Sydney Central YHA
Surfing the net to book tickets for Sydney attractions or their next NSW destination will be easier for YHA Australia guests, after the hostel group introduced free Wi-Fi hotspots. YHA Australia is the first backpacker accommodation network in Australia to offer free Wi-Fi and it will feature in more than half of their properties in city and regional areas

All hostels in the YHA network of over 80 properties across Australia will offer free Wi-Fi hotspots by the end of 2015.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Four Weeks Until Lights On! at Vivid Sydney

The countdown is on with only four weeks until Vivid Sydney, the world's largest festival of light, music and ideas, returns with its biggest and most interactive program ever and new programming announced today.

NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres said, “In four weeks from now, Sydney's streets will be filled with colour as visitors from across the globe celebrate Vivid Sydney, our world-renowned festival of light, music and ideas.”

“Vivid Sydney is firmly established as a must-see global event, attracting 1.43 million attendees and adding $41 million to our State's visitor economy in 2014.

“This year's festival continues to expand and attract the world's leading artists and creatives, adding to an already impressive program. With 60 light installations, new precincts to explore, more ideas seminars and an expanded music offering, there's something new to see every night during Vivid Sydney and I encourage everyone to start planning their trip,” Mr Ayres said.

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase said, “Illuminated by our spectacular Vivid Sydney festival, Sydney truly comes alive during winter. As Vivid Sydney expands, sending its creative energy across the city, it's the perfect time to explore and discover Sydney's wonderful restaurants, small bars and fantastic shopping. In fact there's so much to see and do, I encourage everyone to plan an extended break in the harbour city.”

In new Vivid Sydney programming at Darling Harbour, Sydney's electronic music gurus The Presets, have created three bespoke dj sets that will provide an exciting soundtrack for the Vivid Laser-Fountain Water Theatre, a choreographed audio visual symphony featuring fountain jets and spirals, colour lighting, rainbow lasers and dancing flames. A spectacular fireworks show will also be presented at Darling Harbour during Vivid Sydney.

A new interactive digital fireworks display, Pyrmont Pyro, is an exciting addition to the interactive offerings at the Vivid Sydney Game Zone at Pyrmont & The Star. In a Vivid Sydney first, visitors to Pyrmont Bay Park, will take control of the digital fireworks via the beat of glowing drum strokes that will transform both the projection and sound display.

New inclusions to the Vivid Music program include three weekends of performances at Spice Cellar at ËrsknvL. Ensconced underground in the iconic Imperial Hotel, this clubbing institution will feature performances from the likes of Cassian, Andras Fox and Kyle Hall.

A celebration of all things 90's will be held at Goodgod Small Club. Aptly-named the Rhythm Of The Night, the themed evening will feature a reunion of 90's Australian hit-makers Swoop.

Families will be captivated by the aquatic wonderland at new Vivid Sydney precinct Chatswood, where the story of The Nautilus and the Sea will be showcased. Projected onto the façade of The Concourse, audiences will join Norbert the Nautilus as he embarks on a journey through the vast ocean and a reef teeming with life, as he searches for a new home.

Norbert, Lieutenant Angler and other characters from the animation also come to life in grand installations on the journey from Chatswood Interchange to Chatswood Mall, where an immersive Flowing River of Light, Jellyfish Chandeliers and Aquarium await.

The bustling metropolis of Central Park will also make its Vivid Sydney debut this year, presenting Streets Ahead, a celebration of the world of street culture featuring spectacular projections from renowned contemporary urban artists Reko Rennie and Beastman, a three-day international trade show featuring local streetwear and art exhibitions, and silent discos every Friday and Saturday night from 5.30pm – 9.30pm.

In addition to the lights and sounds, Vivid Sydney at Central Park will host night markets including stalls from the likes of Din Tai Fung, Ippudo and Anita Gelato, and an interactive Paint-A-Thon giving visitors the opportunity to contribute to a giant interactive artwork.

Expanding on the nexus between creative culture and commerce, The Future of Work is an innovative new one-day event to be held as part of the Vivid Ideas program at Vivid Sydney, exploring the many ways the nature of careers are changing and how Australia compares on the world stage.

Presented in partnership with the Centre for Workplace Leadership, The Future of Work will be hosted at Google's innovative waterfront headquarters in Sydney's Pyrmont on Thursday 4 June and will draw on the methods and approaches of design innovators and technology entrepreneurs, to help business leaders shape their workforces and workplaces for the future.

Owned and managed by the NSW Government's tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, Vivid Sydney is set to once again transform the city into a colourful canvas of light, music and ideas for 18 nights from 22 May to 8 June.

For more information on Vivid Sydney visit

Thai Graciousness comes to Zaozhuang, Shandong Province

Dusit Fudu Hotels and Resorts announces the signing of an agreement with Zaozhuang Thai Cultural City Development Company Limited to manage a deluxe Dusit Thani Resort in Zaozhuang, Shandong Province. It will be the first internationally branded and luxury five-star resort in the city.

Scheduled to open in early 2018, the Dusit Thani Thai Cultural City Resort Zaozhuang, Shandong is strategically situated within the distinctive and only Thai cultural city in China that will celebrate everything Thai, from the country's architecture, to its rich history via a Buddhist cultural centre, a mixed-used commercial complex with high-end Thai retail brands and cultural performances.

Located in the South of Shandong Province, Zaozhuang is approximately 2 hours from Beijing and 3 hours from Shanghai by high-speed train. The resort is also just 15 minutes by car from the Zaozhuang high-speed train station.

The Dusit Thani Thai Cultural City Resort Zaozhuang, Shandong will offer 257 guest rooms and suites as well as conference facilities featuring the latest audio-visual equipment. Dining options will include International all-day dining, a Chinese and Dusit's signature Benjarong Thai restaurant.

A key feature of this resort is the unique destination wellness centre that will include infrared heated cabins, laconium and salt saunas, hot sand bath, ice fountain room, vitality pool, nano bubble pool, mineral springs pools, oxygen spa suite and indoor swimming pool. This extensive experience will be complemented by the Thai-inspired massage treatments of Dusit's famed Devarana Spa.

Mr. Lim Boon Kwee, President of Dusit Fudu Hotels & Resorts, says, “We are delighted to introduce the Dusit Thani brand that embodies the richness and traditions of Thai culture, as well as bring a unique wellness concept to this exciting city.”

Expressing his confidence in the management and hospitality expertise of Dusit Fudu Hotels & Resorts, Mr. Sadawut Taechaubol, Chairman of Zaozhuang Thai Cultural City Development Company Limited notes, “With its outstanding facilities and service style synonymous with traditional Thai hospitality, we are confident that our Dusit Thani Thai Cultural City Resort will be the leading hotel in the city.”

Autumn splendour

Trees provide shade and shelter for birds.

They look especially attractive when they are in flower. 

This is a Golden Rain Tree ( Koelreteria. Imperialism ) in our garden at the front of our house.

Colourful wisteria blooms in Japan

Magical sparkling blooms of flowers in Ashikaga and Fuji (Japan).

Flowers here are considered the eternal love icons according to Japanese culture and often bloom in late April early May.

Flowers bloom into colourful bunches swaying in the wind.

In Japan there is a flower festival Fuji-Prince over held in April, where visitors are immersed in the colors of flowers tenderness. The beautiful flower are like being in an ecstatic paradise.

Veteran Diver Promotes Accessibility for All

Having arrived in Australia from Switzerland in 1988 as a professional aircraft spray painter, Beat Bracher affectionately known amongst friends and colleagues as “Splash”, could never have dreamed that he would one day be showing visitors from all over the world the natural wonders of the Great Barrier Reef.

For the past 19 years, Beat has worked for leading reef operator, Sunlover Reef Cruises having started with the company in 1996. Since then he has provided many thousands of people with what is often for them a once in a life time experience. He was working in the Kimberly Region of WA when he met a friend who was a paraplegic. Beat taught him how to snorkel in the local swimming pool. After this experience, Beat decided to train to become an instructor for people with a disability. He ended up taking his friend for his very first scuba dive.

Over the years, Beat has been handed many challenges as one of the companies lead dive instructors. Once he was asked if he would guide a visitor from Japan on an introductory dive. Beat recalls saying “no problem”, and asking what the details of the person's condition were. The reply together with a photo of the Japanese man indicated that this guest had no limbs. As Beat recalls, “When the guest did his swim test, he still seemed to be able to propel himself through the water using a whole body motion that needed to be seen to be believed. I still get goose bumps and emotional when I think about his determination to experience the reef as every fully able bodied person has the opportunity to experience. Having no limbs was not going to stop him”.

Beat has also learned sign language and has taken many deaf people snorkelling and diving on the Great Barrier Reef.
Beat says, “I simply want to provide 110% effort and service to people of all ages and abilities so they too can experience the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef”.

“Over the years, Cairns has become much more friendly to people with a disability and this extends to reef operators such as Sunlover who have vessels and pontoons with the room to accommodate wheelchairs, and staff who are experienced in providing assistance to people with a disability and require in many cases just a little assistance to enable them to enjoy their day on the reef as everyone should.

Sunlover Reef Cruises prides itself on being able to provide a variety of experiences from a permanent, stable pontoon for all ages and abilities. Having team members such as Beat who have gone further to become qualified as specialist dive instructors who can assess each person, and tailor an experience of either snorkelling or diving to ensure that person can get as much out of visiting the reef as possible.

Julie Duncan, Group General Manager says, ”At Sunlover we are providing wide gangways for access to the vessel, ramps to get over small bulkheads and we have a designated seating area that can accommodate a wheelchair”.

Julie added that “We have an extremely able and willing crew who take great pride in showing guests from all over the world the Great Barrier Reef. If we need to lift a guest up and down stairs, then that's what we do. If we can get someone to the water's edge to try snorkelling, that's what we will do!”

In 2014, the company was approached by a blind man who wanted to dive on the Great Barrier Reef. Beat was able to gear him up, and guide him on his first ever dive.

For both men this was a very emotional moment as well as being a fantastic achievement.

Sunlover Reef Cruises

Sunlover Reef Cruises' daily premium cruises to Moore Reef offer the ultimate Great Barrier Reef experience for people of all ages. Guests enjoy four hours to explore the outer reef from our Moore Reef pontoon, so you will have plenty of time to be amazed and inspired by the unsurpassed beauty and splendour of this underwater playground.

Our two vessels are modern air-conditioned catamarans, which depart daily from the Reef Fleet Terminal in the very heart of Cairns. Boats can be chartered to host a variety of events, and our team work with event organisers to ensure the best outcomes for clients wanting outstanding experience when they conference in the region. For a full list of services, simply visit

Photo shoot of Beat at work provided by Calypso Reef Imagery

Calypso has provided photography services for Sunlover Reef Cruises since 1996.
Their professional photographers from Calypso reef imagery capture all the action of the day, whether it's of our guests snorkelling the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef, or taking the plunge on their first scuba or Seawalker dive to meet Wally our resident giant Maori wrasse.