Friday, 30 September 2016

Be dazzled by beautiful park blooms in spring

Ready to shake off those winter blues and celebrate spring in our parks? The next few months are the perfect time to enjoy brilliant wildflower displays in many parks across Victoria.

Whether you’re surrounding yourself with carpets of colourful flowers, spotting rare orchids, or just enjoying the local native flowers, it’s a great way to immerse yourself in nature and help your spirits soar.

Parks Victoria’s Environmental Scientist – Flora, Marie Keatley says: “In Victoria we are lucky to have many different habitats that support a huge variety of wildflowers. Hidden gems and places that may not appear that interesting in other months can be completely transformed during spring. This includes some of our important grasslands that are often critical habitat to rare and threatened plants and animals.

“I encourage everyone to take a picnic or go for a walk in our parks this spring and enjoy the stunning range of wildflower colours, shapes and scents on offer. This is also a wonderful time to see many different birds out enjoying the nectar from the flowers.”

Check out some favourite wildflower hotspots suggested by Parks Victoria rangers across Victoria,

Around Melbourne:

1. Mount Derimut Nature Conservation Reserve

Just 18km west of Melbourne’s CBD this is one of the largest grassland reserves within the Western Volcanic Plains a great spot to see wildflowers including Bluebells, Scaly buttons, Billy Buttons, lemon beauty-heads, Everlasting daisies.

2. Long Forest Flora and Fauna Reserve

Located near Bacchus Marsh, a wonderful spot to see plants typical of arid landscapes. You can see a variety wildflowers including Greenhood orchids and Bull Mallee eucalypts also abound and flower between September to February. This is also a popular spot for bird watching enthusiasts.

3. Anakie Gorge and Stony Creek Reservoir, Brisbane Ranges National Park

Just 80km west of Melbourne in the Barwon South West region of Victoria. Bright Hakeas, grevilleas and peas are just some of the flowers you can spot here along with wallabies, koalas and plenty of different birds.

4. Kinglake National Park

Only 65km north of Melbourne nestled in the slopes of the Great Dividing Range, you can walk beneath tall forest trees, through fern gullies and enjoy a range of wildflowers in bloom.

5. Warrandyte State Park

At the closest state park to Melbourne, you can enjoy walking or picnicking amongst brilliant golden wattles including at least 15 different species native to the area.

Further afield:

1. Anglesea Heath, Great Otway National Park

Anglesea Heath is 100km south-west of Melbourne near Anglesea and has the richest and most diverse range of plants in Victoria including more than 80 different types of orchids. In spring, the heathland erupts into a vibrant sea of colour.

2. Terrick Terrick National Park

There is an abundance of wildlife in these northern plains grasslands just 60km from Bendigo. You’ll find a great choice of walks with scenic views across the grasslands, granite outcrops and woodlands and the place is transformed in spring with a colourful display of wildflowers.

3. Wilsons Promontory National Park and Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park

These much loved parks in Gippsland offer spectacular displays of wildflowers including orchids, wattle, heathland and other species.

4. Grampians National Park

The Grampians are wonderful to visit any time of year and fabulous in spring. You’ll see a huge variety of wildflowers including stunning pink and white Grampians Heath, beautiful orchids, and Tea-tree in full bloom.

5. Alpine National Park and Snowy River National Park, Gippsland

Victoria’s high plains are the perfect place to surround yourself in magnificent mountain views and carpets of wildflowers including snow daisies and bright yellow billy buttons.

6. Hattah Kulkyne National Park and Murray Sunset National Park

Located in the Mallee district in the north-western corner of Victoria, you’ll discover a huge variety of wildflowers including bright pink Pigface, spider orchids, azure sun orchids, desert heath myrtles and bright native daisies.

Christchurch wins International Structural Engineering Congress 2020

Trimble Navigation building
Christchurch, New Zealand will host the International Association of Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE) Congress in September 2020.

The prestigious five-day event, to be held at the new Convention Centre, is expected to attract 550 delegates from around the world, with an estimated economic benefit of $1.2 million for Christchurch.

The bid was put forward by Dr Stephen Hicks of the Heavy Research Engineering Association, and Chair of the New Zealand Group of IABSE and Dr Alessandro Palermo, Associate Professor at the University of Canterbury, who is an award-winning earthquake engineering expert.

Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) Business Events, through its Conference Assistance Programme (CAP), worked with Christchurch & Canterbury Convention Bureau (CCCB) to create the bid document, and provided presentation collateral including a letter of support from Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel.

CCCB manager Caroline Blanchfield says Christchurch headed off New York to win the bid.

“This is another example of Christchurch playing to its strengths. We know the city will deliver world-class expertise and knowledge, and an amazing destination experience for these international delegates,” she says.

“Our collaboration with Tourism New Zealand’s Business Events team was of great value in securing the winning bid. Working with Tourism New Zealand and our local business partners helped us to attract this group of experts to Christchurch.

“As well as the high-value spend it will bring to the city, many delegates are expected to spend more and stay longer in the region with their partners and families before and after the event. Coming in the September shoulder season, they will provide a boost for our accommodation, hospitality and attraction providers throughout the South Island.”

Dr Hicks says New Zealand is well known for its earthquake engineering and low damage construction techniques, and Christchurch has a wealth of experience and knowledge to share with international structural engineers.

“The provisional symposium theme is Resilient Infrastructure, and Christchurch will be a showcase for the latest in technology and practice for resilient and sustainable structures. This symposium will be a forum to present new ideas, practical applications and new technologies to engineering staff, engineering managers, researchers, and industry.

“Christchurch is also the ideal place for technical visits, to present the know-how gained from the earthquakes in 2011. Site visits will feature new structures, together with the retrofitting techniques within existing structures,” he says.

New buildings likely to be on show include the Christchurch Justice and Emergency Services Precinct, with its specialised lateral force-resisting system and base isolation, and the Trimble Navigation building with post-tensioned Laminated-Veneer-Lumber (LVL) frames and walls with energy dissipating devices for lateral load resistance, the first commercial building in New Zealand to use this technique.

Mandurah - Home To WA's Biggest Boat Show

The Club Marine Mandurah Boat Show, Western Australia's biggest boat show attracting 18,000 visitors and 160 exhibitors, is on again at Mandurah's Ocean Marina from 7th - 9th October 2016.

The Show features a collection of boats of all sizes, from 80-foot luxury vessels to tinnies and kayaks and the best fishing gear, perfect for those blue manna crabs in the area. There will be plenty of entertainment for young and old, and fun events from sailing for the kids to testing out the new boats.

The coastal city of Mandurah, only 74 km south of Perth, is a dream location for every “boatie” and water sport enthusiast. The city enjoys some of the most spectacular waterways in the country and is often compared to a modern Venice.

The Peel-Harvey Estuary, Mandurah's jewel in the crown, is twice the size of Sydney Harbour and ideal for canoeing, kayaking, jet-skiing, boating, houseboating, dolphin cruises, fishing and crabbing.

Visitors will find plenty of places where they can hire a boat or houseboat to explore the vast waterways and hidden gems along the way themselves.


The Mandurah Ocean Marina, also known as Dolphin Quay, is the heart to boat lovers and foodies. The Marina is the place to be to dock up your boat and have lunch at one of the many cafes and restaurants, and explore the market place. You can moor at any public jetty and moorings overnight and for 4 hours during daylight hours.

You will currently find 390 recreational boat pens, 36 commercial boat pens and 213 Club Pens in addition to being able to safely moor your vessel. The Marina is located on Dolphin Quay, just five minutes from the city centre and in walking distance from the foreshore. There you'll also find a dinghy and houseboat hire so even if you don't own a boat you can still explore this spectacular marina – and be able to take the whole family.


The Murray River is a beautiful part of the Mandurah area and ideal for leisurely cruises and also a good place to go fishing for Bream and Tailor. Find beautiful riverside camping locations while cruising the 134 km long river.

Located just passed the mouth of the Murray River, Coopers Mill is ideal for a picnic or a BBQ. There is barbecue facilities, children's playground, shaded areas and grassed areas to enjoy.

Situated on the Murray River, The Pelican Store is a good option for a lunch stop at the store or take away.

Just a 2 hour cruise up the Murray River whilst enjoying the scenery and bird life will take you to the Ravenswood Hotel on the banks of the Murray River to enjoy a nice pub meal and drink at the beer garden by the river. There are toilet facilities and seating. So stay awhile and take in the beauty of the scenery.


About an hour's drive from Perth you will find the Peel Inlet, one of Australia's spectacular playgrounds for boating, fishing and wildlife watching. Take to the water with your own boat or hire a boat, houseboat, kayak, canoe, jet-ski or even hop aboard a cruise. Mandurah is renowned for having one of Australia's healthiest dolphin population so you will have good company on your trip, or anchor down in the estuary to catch a dinner of river prawns in the early summer, king prawns in autumn, and scoop for the famous blue swimmer crabs in the late summer.

Great spots to stop by are Mandurah Quay Resort and Boundary Island.
Mandurah Quay Resort, located at the mouth of the Peel Inlet, is a perfect place to moor up to grab a bite to eat. The restaurant is one of the best in the area and bookings are essential. Restaurant closed Mondays and Tuesdays but you can still get coffee and cake.

Boundary Island, located at the entrance to the Peel Inlet, is the place to go crabbing! With its low level water and sandy beaches it is ideal for walking around and scoop-netting Mandurah's famous blue swimmer crabs. Or great for a swim.

For more information on Mandurah & the Peel Region, please go to

Huge flash mob held to mark China-U.S. Tourism Year

The Ellipse lawn in front of the White House turned into a “blooming garden” on Labor Day as a massive “flash mob” of nearly 1,000 in colorful costumes gathered to celebrate the 2016 China–US Tourism Year. “This event is an interesting and symbolic part of the celebrations of the Tourism Year, which was first announced by President Xi and President Obama last year,” said Li Kexin, minister of the Chinese embassy in Washington. The “Super Flash Mob” celebration ceremony was initiated by the China National Tourist Office in New York with assistance from the China America Friendship Association. The event was geared toward increasing American awareness of Chinese culture and to serve as a platform for people-to-people exchange, said Pan Xiaopeng, deputy director of the tourist office. Pan said the event also was supported by the US Department of Commerce, the mayor’s office in Washington and the US National Park Service.

For information about the event, please visit China Daily.

View more photos at Xinhuanet News.

The Travel Industry Exhibition is Back in 2017!

We are delighted to announce the Travel Industry Exhibition will be returning to Luna Park Sydney and moving to our new home at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre in July, 2017.

Sydney: 20-21 July, Crystal Palace, Luna Park
Melbourne: 25-26 July, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC)

Destinations from across the globe will showcase the very best tour operators, accommodation suppliers, cruise lines and more, each of whom will have the supreme opportunity to promote their products, expand trade relationships, and network with new industry colleagues.

Why Exhibit

  • Connect with 1000+ retail travel professionals
  • Promote your product and increase brand awareness
  • Expand your network of decision makers in the business and luxury sectors
  • Break into the local market and strengthen trade relationships
  • Entertain your customer base and build further loyalty
  • Educate industry professionals

This your chance to showcase your brand on the world stage. Don’t miss out!

Why Attend

You are keen to explore the latest innovations in:
  • Destinations
  • Accommodation
  • Cruising
  • Touring
  • Airline services
  • Technology

A specialised seminar program presented by the industry’s top thought leaders will be dedicated to addressing key issues, new technologies and new markets.

Don't miss your chance to experience the most successful trade-only platform in Australia. Entry to the show is complimentary and exclusively available to industry professionals.
For more information, contact: Paul Wang - or +61 2 9556 7986

Explore the Real Vietnam With Anantara Hoi An Resort’s Open Jeep Countryside Tours

Nestled on the Thu Bon River, the ancient city of Hoi An is home to some of Vietnam’s most atmospheric streets, heritage temples, ancient merchant houses and tea warehouses.

Those lucky enough to visit the UNESCO listed town can explore the lounge bars, restaurants, boutiques, art and craft shops and tailors that now line the ancient cobbled streets - all within walking distance from Anantara Hoi An Resort.

What most tourists don’t know is that the areas beyond the ancient city boast some of central Vietnam’s most enticingly laidback scenery and beaches - where life has changed little and most have yet to fully discover. Anantara is known for mixing luxury with adventure and is now inviting intrepid guests to explore these untouched areas by one of the coolest ways possible – open air jeeps.

Click on the picture above to watch the video for a sneak peak of the Open Jeep Countryside Tours experience.

The jeep tours are tailored to suit your itinerary from half day tours up to three days exploring ancient Cham temples, untouched beaches and mountain tribes rarely on the tourist map. For more information on how to explore Vietnam in a way unlike any other, please click the following links:

Explore the Real Vietnam With Anantara Hoi An Resort’s Open Jeep Countryside Tours


In an historic first, the 2017 Women’s Rugby League World Cup (RLWC) will be held concurrently with the men’s tournament, with pool matches and semi-finals to be played at Southern Cross Group Stadium in Cronulla.

NSW Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres and RLWC 2017 Chief Executive Officer Andrew Hill have announced the six team tournament, with three triple headers and a semi-final double header set to be a massive drawcard for fans.

“This is first time the Women’s World Cup has been played concurrently with the Men’s Tournament, creating a legacy for the game, and what better location than the home of Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, from 16 November next year,” Mr Ayres said.

“Women’s international rugby league continues to go from strength to strength and Sydney is the perfect location to showcase this international talent on the world stage.”

Six women’s teams will travel from three continents Europe (England), North America (Canada) and Oceania (Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea) with the final team to be confirmed after the Pacific Qualifying Series next month.


Pacific World, the leading global DMC and Event Management company will unveil 7 themes that have created a new series of bespoke incentive programs at this years IMEX America that focus on experiences which are aligned to people’s emotions and motivation.

Following in-depth research among its client base, Pacific World has used the results to develop themes that include: Exclusive high end adventures; Inspirational special events; Authentic local experiences; Innovative technology concepts that challenge creativity; CSR activities that inspire; Holistic retreats that promote wellbeing and wholeness.

“Clients are increasingly searching for meaningful experiences that move their customers”, said Selina Chavry, Global Managing Director for Pacific World

“We are listening to our clients’ needs and observing trends which have shown us that experiences and engagement are deeply aligned with emotions and motivation. We then had to find out how emotions dictate programs that delegates choose or what activities they might prefer. Understanding what drives each client is the key to designing a compelling program, to help them engage and motivate their attendees.” added Chavry.

Examples of how Pacific World create experiences that engage with a person’s emotion and motivation have included:

“Discover the secrets of Hong Kong Real Estate tycoons”. This multiple personality city is infamous for its real estate that is regarded as one of the costliest as well as the most lucrative in the world. Pacific World has created an experience that takes the attendee into the world of the construction industry of Hong Kong. The Zhu Hai-Macau Bridge, a hard-hat tour conducted by one of the engineers or the architect. The 50km bridge for which construction began in late December 2009, is slated to complete by end of 2017. Clients will shift their perspectives by an exchange in views and discuss the real estate and insurance scene in Hong Kong.

"Breath" India - In Hindu philosophy including yoga, Indian medicine, and martial arts, Prana is all cosmic energy, permeating the Universe on all levels. Prana is often referred to as the "life force" or "life energy". In today's world we search for soul enriching experiences that leave an "impression" on our sense of being. The experience " Breath " takes attendees to 100-acre Maharaja’s Palace Estate, overlooking the spiritual Rishikesh and the Ganges river valley while surrounded by Sal forests. Traditional Yoga and healthy organic cuisine is combined in an overall experience to restore wellbeing, balance and harmony.

“Barcelona, a city of second chances”. Giving attendees a different perspective on life. Pacific World goes back to the streets with a former homeless person and shares with attendees a different perspective on life, achievement, adapting to change and self-motivation.

Selina Chavry added, “As we relook at our strategies that move delegates and create compelling experiences, we have strengthened our internal network of consultants to be able to deliver the best approach for our clients. These experiential programs will add inspiration to our clients’ events and drive motivation that we believe will deliver on mutual benefits for their customers and delegates.”

The full range of experiences and possibilities will be showcased at the upcoming IMEX America, Pacific World booth 2030


Sydney’s newest pedestrian tunnel has opened to the public – boosting convenience and safety for pedestrians in the heart of the CBD.

NSW Premier Mike Baird and Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance said Wynyard Walk provided a six-minute link by foot between one of Sydney’s busiest transport interchanges and the emerging new jobs precinct at Barangaroo.

“This will be a bustling thoroughfare for the tens of thousands of workers and visitors accessing Barangaroo every day,” Mr Baird said.

“We’re building the connections to make getting around our city as easy as possible.”

Mr Constance said with Barangaroo’s third commercial tower about to open, the new link would save time and make the trip safer.

“It’s now about six minutes from the station to Barangaroo, you don’t have to cross roads or navigate steep inclines. We’ve also just completed the first stage of the Wynyard Station renovation. New lifts, escalators and lobby are also on the way for Wynyard,” Mr Constance said.

“With Barangaroo booming, the ferry hub now started and light rail under construction, we’re also making sure we have the pedestrian capacity to match these major new projects.”

Click here for more information about the Wynyard Walk project.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Intriguing “living fossil” shrimps discovered at Arapiles

A “living fossil” whose lineage dates back more than 300 million years has been found at Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park in western Victoria. Tadpole Shrimps (Lepidurus apus viridis) have an intriguing life cycle that can include blowing around in dust for years until they can colonise in temporary puddles.

Parks Victoria Area Chief Ranger Zoe Wilkinson said this discovery in Biodiversity Month is a timely reminder of the many strange and more secretive creatures that exist across Victoria.

Ms Wilkinson said she and The Friends of Arapiles community group were surprised when they climbed to the top of rock outcrops at the park after heavy rains to find the shrimp swimming in a puddle.

“I knew they were something special. They seemed like living fossils and really ancient looking, like the little extinct marine trilobites,” said Ms Wilkinson.

“These animals have an unusual lifecycle. They start life as an extremely hardy egg that can dry out completely and then blow around in the dust and rest in the soil for years.

“When the timing of spring rains is just right, the eggs hatch and the shrimp start swimming around in shallow puddles. They look like a miniature horseshoe crab with a big shield on their back, but only grow to about 40 mm long. Tadpole Shrimp are never found in deeper creeks, streams or ponds where fish and larger predatory insects live. Any that do hatch probably get snapped up pretty quickly.

“Our parks are special places and with the good winter rains, nature is very busy this spring. Although it is easy to overlook the smaller things, I encourage everyone to take the lead from children. Stop, crouch down and take a moment to look around. You’ll be amazed to discover the activity going on in the miniature world within our parks,” said Ms Wilkinson.

Last week Senior Curator in Entomology at Museum Victoria, Dr Richard Marchant, drove to Hamilton to study these animals in roadside puddles.

“These are a very ancient group of shrimps, dating back more than 300 million years. A sign of how primitive they are is their large numbers of legs (up to 70 pairs) which is very different from the more recent crabs and lobsters that just have ten legs,” said Dr Marchant.

“We still know so little of their life cycle. Every animal we looked at was a female carrying eggs and virtually nothing is known about the males. Maybe the males aren’t around for long. We’ll have to sit and wait next time heavy spring rains are just starting to try and decipher the puzzling life cycle of these wonderful animals.”

For more examples of Victoria’s natural riches, see Parks Victoria’s Biodiversity Month social media posts at: using #biodiversitymonth

Handicraft villages to shine at festival

Seven handicraft villages in the city will join the annual Handicraft Tourism Villages Festival Ha Noi - Viet Nam 2016 to be held here this week.

Artisans from the villages, including Van Phuc Silk Village and Bat Trang Ceramic Village, will present their working process at the event, while an exhibition of photos of these traditional villages and typical products will be on display.

Some 250 stalls featuring handicrafts, food, fine arts and tourism products by enterprises throughout the country will be available at the event.

With the theme “Ha Noi-The Quintessence of Traditional Handicrafts”, the event aims to praise local traditional handicrafts and create opportunities for artisans, handicraft and tourism enterprises to exchange and cooperate with each other, according to organisers.

The event will take place at the Thang Long Royal Citadel Relic Site between September 29 and October 2.

The opening ceremony will take place at 7.30pm on September 29 at the Doan Mon Square.

A workshop on how Vietnamese handicraft villages can boost tourism and international integration will be held within the framework of the festival.

The festival is a cultural activity being held to celebrate the 62nd anniversary of capital’s liberation (October 10, 1954).

An evening with Matt McLaren

Originally from Denman, Matt McLaren is an Upper Hunter resident who has forged an outstanding reputation as an entertainer. He started classical piano lessons in Muswellbrook at a young age then later developed his extensive vocal range.

This year Matt was a finalist on Australia's Got Talent, wowing the judges and winning fans across the country with his heartfelt performances and brilliant musical talent.

On October 15, the Upper Hunter Conservatorium is delighted to present an Evening with Matt McLaren, starting at 7.30pm in the Atherstone Room.

The first half of this concert will feature Matt as a solo artist. His brilliant piano and keyboard skills will form the perfect backing as he presents a selection of his favourite songs. His program will combine old classics reimagined with the latest cutting-edge hits.

The second half of the program will incorporate Matt’s band, Twinsanity. They are multi-instrumentalists who combine acoustic and electronic instruments to present a dynamic and entertaining live performance.

Matthew McLaren - vocals and keyboards and Twinsanity band

Saturday 15 October 2016 7:30pm
Atherstone Room, Upper Hunter Conservatorium of Music
80 Bridge Street, Muswellbrook NSW 2333
Tickets: Adult $25, Concession $20

Hangzhou Hosts G20 Summit

Earlier this month, the 11th summit of the G20 major economies (which account for nearly 85 percent of the world’s economic output) concluded in Hangzhou, reaching extensive consensus on leading world economic growth. For two days, leaders exchanged views on global economic and financial governance, robust international trade and investment, and inclusive and interconnected development. They also addressed challenges impacting the global economy, including climate change, refugee, anti-terrorism, financing and public health.

As the host venue for the G20 summit, Hangzhou welcomed the many important guests. Earlier this year, Hangzhou saw the opening of its second Shangri-La property, located in the Xiacheng Business District within steps of the city’s gorgeous West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage site. In addition, Hangzhou is home to international hotel properties from Hilton, Marriott, and Hyatt. Looking to the future, Hangzhou will host the 2022 Asian Games and take its place on the world stage once again.

Hangzhou offers pristine natural beauty, well-preserved historical attractions, a vibrant culture and modern amenities for today’s global traveler. Now that the G20 summit has concluded, consider adding Hangzhou to one of your China itineraries for your clients.

Plan 52 Perfect Weekends in the World’s Tastiest Destinations with Lonely Planet’s Food Trails

  • Southern Tasmania, Melbourne & the Great Ocean Rd, Southwest Australia Showcased

Published this October, global travel authority Lonely Planet’s Food Trails is a gastronomic tour of the world in 52 short breaks — with Australia represented by Southern Tasmania, Melbourne & the Great Ocean Rd, and Southwest Australia.

Following its best-selling Wine Trails (2015), Lonely Planet has now scoured the world for the greatest food experiences around which to plan travels — not just fine dining, but also the best regional specialities, the most atmospheric street food spots, and the most memorable cooking courses.

Taste the planet’s most exciting local cuisines – from barbeque in Texas to patisserie in Paris – in this comprehensive guide, from the new Lonely Planet Food imprint, to 52 weekends of food heaven.

Discover new food and drink experiences, meet local producers and get inspired by these delicious Food Trails:

Argentina (Buenos Aires), Australia (Southern Tasmania, Melbourne & the Great Ocean Rd, Southwest Australia), Brazil (São Paulo), Canada (Québec), Chile (Patagonia), China (Beijing), Denmark (Aarhus), England (London, Southwest England), France (Paris, Dordogne, Lyon),Germany (Black Forest), Greece (Crete), Iceland (West Iceland), India (Delhi, Chennai), Indonesia (Ubud), Ireland (Connemara), Italy (Venice, Piedmont, Puglia, Emilia-Romagna, Sicily), Jamaica (Treasure Beach), Japan (Tokyo, Central Japan), Jordan (Amman & Central Jordan),Malaysia (Penang), Morocco (Fez & Middle Atlas), New Zealand (Auckland & Around), Oman (Muscat), Peru (Lima), Portugal (Porto), Russia (St Petersburg), Scotland (Outer Hebrides), Seychelles (Mahé), Slovakia (Bratislava & Around), South Africa (Cape Town & West Cape), South Korea (Seoul), Spain (Catalonia, San Sebastian), Thailand (Chiang Mai), Turkey (Istanbul), USA (New York, New Orleans & Cajun Country, Texas, Maine, Hawaii), and Vietnam (Hanoi).

Bite-by-bite itineraries include expert reviews of restaurants, cafes and markets, with maps and practical details of how to get there and where to stay.

Lonely Planet’s Food Trails
Published 5 October 2016 
304pp, full colour, H240mm X W185mm 
RRP: AU$34.99

Another Milestone for IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific as the 2016 Edition Opens

The 24th and 19th instalment of IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific opens today in Bangkok, Thailand with several new milestones set ahead of its 3-day programme.

The 2016 education programme features a record-breaking 50 esteemed speakers from across governments, academia, and industry professions who will impart their knowledge and expertise at over 20 sessions including the ASEAN MICE Forum, the 2-day Association Day forum, Campfire Knowledge Sessions, and CTW Asia-Pacific Conference Sessions.

Targeted outreach and sponsorship sessions are also at an all-time high this year, with many companies like Visit Berlin, Dubai Business Events, Fukuoka Convention and Visitor Bureau, Tourism Promotions Board Philippines, Carey International and HRS – Global Hotel Solutions, and Carlson Wagonlit Travel stretching their investments by participating as both exhibitor and sponsor. This is a testament to the value of IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific as an instrumental platform in bringing only the best buyers, sellers, and speakers to a single marketplace to do business, learn, and network.

“Exhibition platforms such as IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific play an important part in our clients brand building and market activation goals. We are heartened by the trust and commitment they have placed in us, and we endeavour to keep building our capabilities, offering new value propositions, and providing opportunities for our delegates to maximise their investments, and engage with the people who matter most to them”, said Darren Ng, Managing Director, TTG Asia Media.

IT&CMA continues to showcase a diverse congregation of international and regional Convention Visitor Bureaus, welcoming both new and returning representatives from Berlin, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Monaco, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand and many more. A number of these destinations are featuring a bigger showing of private sectors joining their contingents, solidifying the event as the leading MICE and Corporate Travel trade event in the region.

Ongoing results have made IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific the undisputed leader in MICE and Corporate Travel exhibition and conference in the region. The event expects 2,800 delegates from over 50 countries, including 600 hosted buyers and media, this year.

Host and partner Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau will leverage on IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific to launch their 2017 marketing communication concept. Said Supawan Teerarat, Vice President, Strategic and Busines Development, Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), “The initiative – Thailand CONNECT…Your Vibrant Journey to Business Success – will confirm Thailand’s outstanding hospitality and present Thailand as a destination that can really CONNECT an event’s vibrant journey to business success.”

Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) will also host the Opening Ceremony & Welcome Reception to round off Day 1 at the Royal Paragon Hall with a “Siam Spice Night” theme featuring the best of what Thailand can offer as a leading MICE destination.

Photo - From right to left: Mr Darren Ng, Managing Director, TTG Asia Media, Ms. Supawan Teerarat, VICE President of Strategic and Business Development, Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau and Mr Viroj Sirihorachai, Vice President, Revenue Management and Commercial Services, Thai Airways International Public Company Limited

For more information, log on to 


Top-class surfing is set to return to Avoca Beach next year, with the Komunity Project Central Coast Pro confirmed for March 2017.

NSW Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres joined Member for Terrigal Adam Crouch this week to launch the event, which forms part of the NSW Pro Surf Series.

“The Central Coast Pro is set to attract more than 200 surfers from around the world to Avoca Beach, competing over five days from 8-12 March 2017,” Mr Ayres said.

Member for Terrigal Adam Crouch said the Central Coast Pro was one of the highlights of last summer and spectators will enjoy the event’s bigger and better return next year.

“The Central Coast Pro is an official World Surf League Qualifying Series event, which will showcase our spectacular region and coastline to surfers and fans from around Australia and the world,” Mr Crouch said.

The 2017 NSW Pro Surf Series is expected to generate more than $1.8 million to the NSW economy in visitor spend, attracting 1,000 overnight visitors to the four beach locations at Maroubra, Cabarita, Boomerang and Avoca.

Discover Your Maine Thing This Fall

Imagine all the things you love most about autumn - is it the bright foliage or apple picking? Perhaps it's going to your favorite fall festival or exploring a new hiking trail. Each fall, Maine's forests turn into a brilliant quilt of crimson, gold and orange, and the pine trees' green provides a lovely balance of cool color. This is the backdrop for some of the best things about Maine.

Fall is ideal for peaceful drives along the state's many scenic byways - through the mountains near Rangeley and Sugarloaf, along the Kennebec River to the Canadian border, or along the Bold Coast, offering even more dramatic views than usual as the blue waters and grey cliffs meet the warmth of the foliage.

It's a great time to stop by an apple farm. Across the state, the farms open up, and families pick Maine's crisp and tart varieties. Apple cider and fresh, hot donuts are a must, too. Every fall, communities celebrate the apple harvest along with the bounty of summer, and the county fairs pay homage to all that's great about this season with livestock competitions, baking contests, local jams and honey and so much more. In October, Damariscotta hosts the Pumpkinfest and Regatta, with (it's true!) pumpkins as the boats.

When you're ready to beat the crowds and find solace in the woods, Maine is the place. Some of the most beloved hikes like Tumbledown, Bubble Rock, or Mount Battie offer simply breathtaking views at the summit as the leaves change. Throughout the state, there are hiking trails for all levels - easy to strenuous - so the whole family can enjoy getting away from it all for a day.

Being on the water in Maine is always a treat regardless of the season - cruising along the coastline and exploring the myriad islands that dapple the shore is simply a boater or kayaker's dream - but in the fall, everything just has a unique quality - the air, the colors - all make for an awe-inspiring adventure.

And at the end of every day, explorers can always find some of the world's best dining. Maine has become a food-lover's destination and our chefs pride themselves on cuisine that is creative, local and sumptuous. There may be nothing more delicious than a fresh, buttered lobster roll at the end of a good, long hike, sitting at the water's edge. Throw in a uniquely flavored Moxie or local brew, and you might just have the best meal of your life.

So imagine yourself immersed in the color and beauty of Maine. Get outside, explore and enjoy. Discover your Maine Thing this fall.

To learn more, check out our multi-media, interactive Maine Thing Quarterly that features road trips.


The 2016 Wollongong Fringe Festival kicks off this evening, featuring an edgy, authentic program to showcase the city’s creative side.

Highlights include an evening with popular scientist Dr Karl, a preview of the art installation Moon Beach, and a special night at the movies with David Stratton.

The Fringe Festival will culminate with the Yours and Owls Music Festival on the October long weekend.

Head to the official Festival website for more information.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016


Fans are invited to join a special welcome home celebration for Australia’s Paralympians in Sydney next month.

The Team touched down at Sydney Airport yesterday fresh from their top five medal finish at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

NSW Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres encouraged members of the public to come down in green and gold to congratulate the superstars on their achievements.

“Athletes in the Australian Paralympic Team have broken four world records and achieved an overall 81 medals, deserving nothing short of a heroes’ welcome back to Australia,” Mr Ayres said.

“City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore and I will host a special celebration to welcome home 50 of our Paralympic champions on Tuesday 4 October from 12.30pm at Martin Place.”

Fans can register for the event via Facebook.

Palace Museum Transforming Exhibition Layout

Palace Museum in Beijing
The Palace Museum in Beijing recently announced plans to transform its exhibition layout over the next four years. The western pathway from Duanhong Bridge to the icehouse will be open on September 29, while the royal icehouse, Imperial Kitchen (Yu Shan Fang), and Yuqing Gong, where the crown prince lived, will open later.

During this year’s National Day holiday, visitors will be able to choose from a larger selection of tour routes. The Palace Museum will open three more routes before the end of the year. The west side pathway can directly lead to the royal icehouse, which can accommodate 400 people dining at one time, and a platform to view the Jiangshan mountain from afar also will be opened. The new pathways will increase the opening area; meanwhile, other portions of the museum will receive repairs and renovations.

Aurora Expeditions Celebrates 30 Years of the Kimberley’s Wilderness Couple

Celebration will be in the air aboard Aurora Expeditions' Kimberley Coast voyages in 2017 as they mark the 30th anniversary of legendary Kimberley adventurer Mike Cusack’s ‘Year in the Wilderness’. Over four exclusive voyages, travellers will have the chance to join Mike in celebrating 30 years since he and his wife Susan spent 12 months living in the isolated west Kimberley.

Known as the ‘Wilderness Couple’, Mike and Susan were selected from over 500 couples in 1987 for the ambitious social experiment developed by Aussie adventurer Dick Smith to see if a modern urban couple could survive in the harsh extremes of Australia’s outback. They organised their own transport and supplies and headed off on an adventure that would change their lives forever.

Although the couple encountered extreme conditions, Mike remembers his time in the west Kimberley fondly. “Our year in the Kimberley wilderness was tough. We experienced one of the driest wet seasons in 30 years, dealt with bush fire and had to make daily treks to keep our water supplies full. But as hard as it was, the Kimberley is one of the most beautiful and special places in the world. Looking back 30 years on, both Susan and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.“

Mike will return to the Kimberley Coast for his 20th season as Aurora Expeditions' expedition leader in 2017. He will be sharing his Year in the Wildernessstory as well as offering passengers the unique chance to walk in the footsteps of the 'Wilderness Couple' on the 11-km rock-hopping trek back to Kunmunya’s abandoned Presbyterian Mission where the couple set up their camp during their Year in the Wilderness.

Travelling aboard the 42-passenger Coral Expeditions I, each intimate journey will travel between
Broome and Darwin and feature daily excursions and shore landings to some of the region’s most spectacular sites including ancient Wandjina and Gwion Gwion rock paintings on Bigge Island or Swift Bay, the powerful Horizontal Waterfalls and Western Australia’s highest falls, King George Falls.

Aurora Expeditions’ 11-day Kimberley Coast voyages depart Broome on 12 June and 3 July 2017, and Darwin on 2 and 23 June 2017. Each voyage includes accommodation and meals on board Coral Expeditions I, all shore excursions, educational lectures and guiding services.

EXCLUSIVE PACKAGE OFFER – Partners Fly Free to the Kimberley!
To celebrate the 30-year anniversary of the Wilderness Couple, Aurora Expeditions have launched an exclusive ‘Partners Fly Free’ package for their 2017 Kimberley expeditions. Simply book the package including the 11-day Kimberley cruise, return flights, accommodation and transfers before 31 October 2016 and partners will receive free flights – a saving of up to $890 per couple.

Package price starts from $9,465 for the first person, with the ‘partner’ price starting at $8,845 per person. Conditions apply.

For more information on Aurora Expeditions’ 2017 Kimberley cruises visit, email or call 1300 061 490.

Watch Aurora Expeditions' New Kimberley Videos: from Mike Cusack’s ‘Year in the Wilderness’ to wildlife and waterfalls, watch Aurora Expeditions’ new series of Kimberley Coast videos and find out all you need to know about travelling on Aurora Expeditions’ Kimberley Coast adventures! Click here to watch videos.

Fifth Asian Beach Games kicks off in Da Nang City

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc declared the opening of the fifth Asian Beach Games (ABG5) at a ceremony at the Bien Dong Park Square in the central city of Da Nang on September 24 night.

The opening ceremony saw the participation of about 4,600 coaches and athletes from 45 countries and territories worldwide, who are competing in 14 sports with 22 events for 165 medal sets. Nearly 400 reporters, including about 170 foreign journalists, were also present to cover the event.

As one of the largest sports events in Asia, ABG was initiated by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and is held every two years with the first edition in Bali, Indonesia, in 2008.

Themed “Shining Sea, Bright Future,” ABG5 aims to introduce Viet Nam to international friends as a beautiful, hospitable and united nation which is looking towards a bright future.

Addressing the ceremony, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien, who is also head of the ABG5 Steering Committee, affirmed that thanks to efforts of the Da Nang authorities and relevant ministries and agencies, preparations for the event have been completed.

The most awaited part of the opening ceremony was an impressive procession of the Games torch. Five local fishermen brought the torch from the sea to the shore and handed over it to five outstanding Vietnamese athletes, including Hoang Xuan Vinh, who won one gold and one silver at the Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

On the night, participants were also entertained with an art programme highlighting the special culture of Viet Nam and Da Nang city in particular, as well as Vietnamese’s desire for a peaceful and hospitable Asia.

The Vietnamese athletes will show off their skills at all sports, aiming to be among the top of the tournament. The country ranked fourth with eight gold, 12 silver and 20 bronze medals in the fourth Asian Beach Games, which took place in Phuket, Thailand in 2014.

The event offers an opportunity for Viet Nam to develop beach games while helping Da Nang City promote its tourism.

Up to 3,000 hotel rooms in Da Nang are available for participating officials and athletes. Besides, the locality has organised various cultural and culinary festivals, along with launching special tours on this occasion.

The closing ceremony is scheduled for October 3.

Sydney Olympic Park is a great place to cycle

Discover over 35km of safe cycling pathways and see Olympic icons, spectacular parklands and areas of cultural heritage along the way.
  • Bring your own bikes to enjoy this family-friendly activity for free, or hire a bike 7 days a week (Bike hire 02 9746 1572)
  • Discover our hidden gems including lookouts, bird hides, wildlife refuges, mangrove boardwalks, shipwrecks and outdoor art.
  • Choose from 3 great Bike Safari Circuits (for ages 5+) depending on riding ability and what you would like to see.
  • Enjoy child-friendly cycleways including the Children’s Loop in Bicentennial Park.
  • Find out the best way to get to the Park by bike.
  • enjoy fun pit-stops and facilities including playgrounds, picnic areas, bubblers and toilets.

See our map for suggested cycling routes or download the Bike Safari Map (PDF 4MB)

Racing cyclist lanes

Sydney Olympic Park offers a network of quality on-road cycle lanes for race training, on smooth surfaced roads with low traffic (outside event times). All cycle lanes are well marked and signposted to Australian Standards.

BMX and Mountain X Monster Tracks bike tracks

BMX and Mountain X riders perfect their downhill dirt skills on the Monster BMX and Mountain X track, located between the Archery Centre and P5 Car Park on Hill Road.

Safe bike riding tips

  • Pathways are there to share but pedestrians always have right of way
  • No faster than 20 kph for cyclists on shared pathways
  • Keep to the left so others can pass safely
  • Use your bell to announce your presence especially when approaching from behind
  • Look both ways when crossing roads. Practice your traffic safety skills
  • It’s the law to always wear a helmet
  • Stay on marked pathways. Don't cycle on gravel paths in Narawang Wetlands or on timber boardwalks
  • Help keep frogs, turtles and other wildlife safe by shutting all exclusion gates behind you
  • Respect your Park by leaving the plants and wildlife undisturbed for everyone to enjoy

Dresden. Wine, Women and Song

A delight for the eyes, ears and palate: Dresden and its surroundings are a treat for all the senses. The 55-km Saxon Wine Route, is an especially charming itinerary for tours – and the trail will be celebrating its 25th anniversary next year.

This popular route goes from Pirna to Dresden, Radebeul and Meissen, on to the idyllic wine-growing villages on the Elbe around Diesbar-Seußlitz. Cultural and historical sights blend harmoniously with the attractive countryside on which wine production has left its marks for the last 850 years. With some 460 hectares of vineyards, Saxony's wine-growing area is one of the smallest separate vinicultural sites in Germany. The region's wines are a particular treat in the late summer and autumn during the many events held then.


  • The Federweisser Festival of new wine in Haus Steinbach in Radebeul (1–3 October) or the wine festivals in Altkötzschenbroda and Meißen (23–25 September) are a wine gourmet's dream come true.
  • Would you like to see the magnificent ancient goblets from which Augustus the Strong once drank his wine? At the Historic Green Vault in Dresden's Residenzschloss (Royal Palace), these and other precious objects are on display from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day except Tuesdays. To mark the 10th anniversary of its re-opening, the museum also has an attractive offer for visitors from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays at the special price of just 15 euros for both the Historic and New Green Vaults, including a guided tour!
  • The Dresden Museums Night from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. on 17 September offers another chance to set off in search of wine, women and song. The Sculpture Collection contains statues representing Dionysus, the god of wine; the Old Masters Picture Gallery presents pieces such as Titian's “Sleeping Venus”, one of the loveliest women in the world, and the new permanent exhibition“Concept and Encounter: The World around 1600” in the Royal Palace features historical musical instruments, along with many other exhibits.
  • Still an insider tip: the newly opened restaurant felix allows you to enjoy a glass of wine above the roofs of Dresden with an exclusive view of the Zwinger. The felix is designed to combine a smart location for events with a lounge and a bar – in an ideal location in the Lebendiges Haus, where people can live, work, shop, eat and drink all in one place.

For our bimonthly newsletter, please subscribe at

Christoph Münch, MA
International Media Relations / Marketing Manager International Markets
Dresden Marketing GmbH
Messering 7 01067 Dresden
Christoph.Muench@marketing.dresden.dePhone: +49 351 - 50173 - 135 Fax: +49 351 - 50173 - 137

Spring blooms in the Dandenong Ranges

National Rhododendron Garden

There’s so much to see this Spring as the great gardens of the Dandenong Ranges burst into colour with a spectacular display of flowers and lush foliage.

There are seven great gardens in the Dandenong Ranges managed by Parks Victoria and each garden features a distinctive gardening focus set amongst the picturesque hills and views of the Dandenong Ranges.

“Visitors come from far and wide to see spectacular floral displays and the incredible setting of our gardens here in the Dandenong Ranges,” said Parks Victoria Area Chief Ranger Helen Woodlock.

The Dandenong Ranges Gardens are less than an hour’s drive from the Melbourne CBD and a favourite destination for Melburnians and visitors from all over the world.

“We know from research that time spent in parks is good for our physical, mental, social and spiritual health. This is at the heart of our Healthy Parks, Healthy People approach to managing Victoria’s parks to ensure that everyone can benefit from time spent in nature and especially in spectacular parks like our Dandenong Ranges Gardens.”

For more information about the link between nature and human health, go to or ‘like’ Healthy Parks Healthy People Central on Facebook.

For more information on the Dandenong Ranges Gardens call the Parks Victoria Information Centre on 13 1963 or visit

National Rhododendron Garden

An extensive display of spectacular rhododendrons are in bloom until November. Expect to see the last of the daffodils and cherry blossoms towards the end of September or grab a ride on the Garden Explorer available from Tuesday to Friday to see the whole garden (bookings for groups are recommended). Café Vireya is open for light lunches and morning teas and you can pick up a gift in the gift shop or buy a plant to take home from the nursery.

Free entry
Open daily 10.00am to 4:30pm. Café Vireya is open daily until early November.
The Georgian Rd, Olinda

George Tindale Gardens

The George Tindale Gardens are filled with colourful camellias, magnolias, rhododendrons and a large hydrangea collection. The flowering bulbs in the rock garden are also delightful set against a backdrop of Mountain Ash trees.

Free entry
Open daily 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
33 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke

Pirianda Gardens

The Pirianda Gardens feature a beautiful woodland garden which is currently blooming with magnolias, dogwoods and dove-trees. It’s also a great location for birdwatching, photography, landscape painting and picnics on the large open lawns.

Free entry
Open daily 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
9 Hacketts Rd, Olinda

Alfred Nicholas Memorial Garden

The Alfred Nicolas Memorial Garden is flowering with beautiful camellias, magnolias and an early show of rhododendrons. The walk to the beautiful ornamental lake and islands is a favourite with photographers and visitors for its tranquility and picturesque scenery and there is a waterfall at the lake and ponds.

Free entry
Open daily 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
1A Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke

William Ricketts Sanctuary

William Ricketts Sanctuary is a unique outdoor art gallery and culturally significant forest style garden featuring more than 90 sculptures by artist and environmentalist William Ricketts and cradled in dense greenery. Many visitors describe the sanctuary as a profoundly peaceful and sometimes spiritual experience.

Free entry
Open daily 10:00am to 4:30pm
1402 Mount Dandenong Tourist Rd, Mount Dandenong

R.J. Hamer Arboretum

Enjoy walking through the park which will continue to fill up with bright vegetation over the next few months. Take time to observe the stunning scenery across the Yarra Valley and out towards the Warburton Ranges.

R.J. Hamer Arboretum provides a wonderful area for recreation or relaxation. Visitors can enjoy the magnificent views, a traditional Australian barbecue or a walk along one of the trails.

Free entry
Open daily
26 Chalet Rd, Olinda

Mount Dandenong Arboretum

Extending over 16 hectares, Mount Dandenong Arboretum has an emphasis on trees and features a plethora of conifers and deciduous trees which are considered nationally significant. It’s the perfect place for large picnics with family and friends in the meadows which overlook the Great Dividing Range.

Free entry
Open daily
52 Ridge Rd, Mount Dandenong

Novotel Phuket Phokeethra Opens Doors to Island's Colourful History

Novotel Phuket Phokeethra is AccorHotels' homage to the historic heart of this resort island. Situated close to the old quarter with its ancient architecture, Buddhist temples and Taoist shrines, the hotel offers inquisitive travellers an opportunity to immerse themselves in a time when prosperity first arrived on the island – not from tourists, but from the settlers who came from the Arabian Peninsula, China, India and Portugal, leaving behind a stunning heritage and blend of architecture.

This is Phuket beyond the beach, where the curious can meander down charming streets lined with well-preserved Sino-Portuguese shophouses and mansions, many of which have been repurposed as boutiques and fabric shops, galleries, coffee shops and restaurants. Foodies can embark on a culinary journey at the bustling markets, street stalls and shophouse restaurants that offer distinctive local flavours, or discover the town's fascinating past by exploring Dibuk, Thalang, Phang Nga, Yaowarat and Krabi roads by foot.

The midscale Novotel brand offers travellers an 'easy-living experience' with spacious and modular rooms and stand-out meeting facilities with a commitment to guest wellbeing. Patrick Basset, Chief Operating Officer of AccorHotels Upper Southeast and Northeast Asia, says, “Novotel Phuket Phokeethra showcases the brand's new eNergize identity with a collection of rejuvenating wellness facilities that sets a new benchmark under the Novotel brand. The hotel's location in historic Phuket Old Town offers guests travelling to the ever-popular island an opportunity to experience a colourful side of one of Thailand's oldest cities”

Featuring 180 spacious rooms and suites with city, mountain and bay views, the hotel's stylish rooms offer premium bathroom amenities, LCD TVs, and complimentary Wi-Fi and minibars. For wellness, fitness and relaxation, the hotel has a spa, gym and an indoor pool.

An elegant counterpoint to the abundant street fare outside the hotel, the all-day dining restaurant, AMOR, serves delicious local and international cuisine, and the Sino-Portuguese-inspired Estrela Sky Lounge offers breathtakingly panoramic views of the city, the bay and the mountains, while the chic lobby lounge, LUA, is an inviting rendezvous point.

For meetings, events and conferences, the hotel can accommodate up to 850 guests in its state-of-the-art Grand Ballroom with vaulted ceilings and offers four additional meeting rooms.

With more than 30 beaches on the island, guests will never be far from the sea – Patong Beach, Kata Beach and Karon Beach are just a short ride from the hotel. A five-minute drive to Thalang Road and Promthep Clock Tower in Phuket Old Town and 40 minutes from Phuket International Airport, the hotel is located at 40 Chanajaroen Road, Tambol Talad Yai, Amphur Muang Phuket.

From October 1st to November 30st, 2016, guests can enjoy a two-night stay at Novotel Phuket Phokeethra from THB 3,450++ per night inclusive of a THB 1,000 credit that can be used on dining or spa treatments.

For reservations please e-mail, call +66 (0) 76-397-777, or visit for more information.

The Brandman Agency Named U.S. Public Relations Agency of Record for Visit Victoria

The Brandman Agency is pleased to announce Visit Victoria as the newest destination addition to its worldwide luxury travel and lifestyle portfolio. Victoria's tourism and events company, Visit Victoria is responsible for marketing to visitors globally, across Australia and from within the State. Home to world-class events, unparalleled nature experiences, and Melbourne, voted the “World's Most Livable City” for the sixth-straight year, Victoria continues to see consistent growth in visitor expenditure.

As Australia's fastest growing city, Melbourne is renowned for its superb restaurants, café culture, theatre, diverse art and cultural offerings, and is a gateway to unique nature based experiences. Known as the events capital of Australia, Melbourne hosts a year-round calendar of outstanding international events including the Australian Open Tennis (Grand Slam of the Asia Pacific), Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, Spring Racing Carnival (Melbourne Cup) and the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival. The city has also recently been chosen as the second international host of the World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards, coming to Melbourne in 2017.

Victoria's compact size allows ease of travel for visitors, with a diversity of authentic Australian experiences all within close proximity to Melbourne, including wineries, regional gourmet experiences and spectacular wildlife and natural attractions. “The Penguin Parade” at Phillip Island, the Yarra Valley wine region, the Great Ocean Road, outdoor adventure and walking trails in the Grampians, and the iconic colorful beach boxes of the Mornington Peninsula, all continue to attract visitors year after year.

“I could not be more thrilled to be working with Visit Victoria,” says Melanie Brandman, Founder and CEO of The Brandman Agency. “As an eighth generation Australian, I am both honored and humbled that The Brandman Agency has been chosen as Visit Victoria's strategic partner in the U.S. As a former resident of Melbourne, I was always so enthralled by the cultural and culinary diversity of the city and I look forward to elevating market awareness by illustrating all of the amazing experiences the state of Victoria has to offer.”

“We are incredibly excited to be working with Melanie and her team at The Brandman Agency,” said Susan Brown, Regional Manager, Visit Victoria North America. “I am confident that with the Agency's strong media contacts, deep understanding of the market, innovative approach, and passion for the region, we will continue to elevate and reinforce Victoria's reputation as a world-class destination.”

The United States is currently Australia's fourth largest inbound market based on visitor arrivals, and third largest market when ranked on total expenditure. Annual arrivals from the U.S. exceeded 600,000 for the first time in the 2015 calendar year, and expenditure grew at an increasingly rapid rate to a new all-time high. Between 2010 and 2015, U.S. overnight visitation to Victoria increased at an average annual rate of 8.0%, ahead of the national average.

For more information on travel to Victoria, visit:

About Visit Victoria

Visit Victoria is the principal tourism and events company for Victoria, Australia. The organization is dedicated to growing Victoria's visitor economy by marketing to visitors from within the state, across Australia and around the world, and attracting sporting, cultural and business events for the state's world-class events calendar.

About The Brandman Agency

Founded in 2001 by Melanie Brandman, The Brandman Agency represents some of the world's most prestigious luxury travel brands and destinations including FRHI Hotels & Resorts, the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, and Barbados Tourism Marketing, Inc. Visit The Brandman Agency at

Tuesday, 27 September 2016


Jumpsuits are being dry cleaned and rhinestones polished as more than 22,000 people prepare to shake, rattle and roll their way to the Regional NSW town of Parkes for next year’s Elvis extravaganza.

The 2017 Parkes Elvis Festival program is jam-packed with more than 120 events, including the headline Feature Concert Series, Elvis Gospel Service, the Northparkes Mines Street Parade and much more.

The theme for the 2017 event is inspired by the 1964 Elvis film Viva Las Vegas, with hot rods, neon lights, and feathered showgirls set to transform Parkes into a glittering paradise to celebrate the Festival’s 25th year.

Festival Director Cathy Treasure said “To have reached 25 years is a huge achievement for the Festival. The entire Parkes community has supported this event from the very beginning, helping us grow the Festival into the leading celebration of the life of Elvis Presley in Australia.”

NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres said the 2016 Parkes Elvis Festival attracted more than 13,000 overnight visitors, who contributed more than $9.3 million to the local visitor economy.

“As one of the most popular and unique events in Regional NSW, the Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW, is proud to support the Parkes Elvis Festival. I encourage everyone to start planning their trip to the region for the special 25th birthday celebration which promises to be a standout on the NSW Events Calendar,” Mr Ayres said.

The Parkes Elvis Festival will be held from 11-15 January 2017, with tickets now on sale.

NEXT Hotel Brisbane Wins 'Best Redeveloped Hotel'

NEXT Hotel Brisbane was awarded Best Redeveloped Hotel at the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) National Awards for Excellence dinner, held on the Gold Coast in Queensland.

In 2014 the hotel underwent a complete remodelling, the vision behind the transformation was the first of many undertaken by SilverNeedle Hospitality Group. NEXT hotel design needed to marry form and function in inspiring ways; as the re-development bar was raised even higher to include technology and creative spaces. NEXT hotel is a result of meeting these challenges seamlessly; blending designs from traditional hotel demands for tech-native travellers.

Given the hotel's past that boasts famous and infamous guests - The Beatles, prime ministers like Sir Robert Menzies, President Lyndon Johnson, it was a place that held fond memories for many Brisbane locals. It was inevitable that the heyday of Brisbane's iconic hotel needed to be redeveloped for its next frontier.

“NEXT hotel adds a modern spin to our historical narrative - it is a balancing act between traditional services, which are core to what we do whilst exposing guests to new technologies that were first to this region's hotel market. Our innovation and installation, such as keyless entry and mobile phones for in-room functionalities, are all part of being tech hoteliers in Australia”, said Alex Billing, General Manager for NEXT Hotel Brisbane.

“For the challenges and success in launching the world's first NEXT hotel, we are honoured to receive this sought after award”, said Billing.

The evening was attended by just over 460 people, gathered for the industry's most respected national awards ceremony. With the finalists in each category already the winners of their state awards, these prestigious awards celebrate the 'best of the best'.

Marriott Opens Hangzhou Marriott Hotel Qianjiang

Marriott Hotel Qianjiang
Marriott International recently opened their first hotel in Hangzhou, the Marriott Hotel Qianjiang. The new hotel enjoys a unique location in Qianjiang New Town central business district overlooking the Qiantang River. Located next to the metro line, the hotel is conveniently located near major transportation hubs, just a 34-minute drive from Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport, and a 20-minute drive from Hangzhou East Railway Station. The hotel offers 348 guest rooms, each equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and services.

In addition, the hotel provides a variety of dining experiences: Man Ho Restaurant serves authentic Cantonese cuisine; Shin Ju features traditional Japanese food; and City Bistro features live cooking stations and outdoor seating. Click here for more information or reservations.

Biodiversity at the Sydney Olympic Park

Bird Watching 
Sydney Olympic Park is a hotspot for all things natural, and protects habitats for hundreds of species of plants, birds, frogs, bats, reptiles and fish. There are over 35 kilometres of bike trails, walking paths and scenic boardwalkswithin the Park that can take you to parklands, rare salt-marshes, remnant woodlands, waterbird refuges and mangrove forest.

Among these protected wetlands and woodlands you can bird watch, photograph, spot lizards, visit the home of the endangered Green and Golden Bell frog, or just de-stress in the cool green calmness under the trees.

Sydney Olympic Park supports over 200 species of native birds, frogs, bats, possums and lizards, and contains over 300 hectares of threatened species habitat.

Life in the Park news:

Our resident White-bellied Sea Eagles are nesting and have two eggs. There will be an eager wait for eggs to hatch, after some 40 days incubation. Catch a birds eye view of their nest via EagleCAM.
Enjoy flowering wattles along the Louise Sauvage Pathway and Badu Mangroves during July. These plants form an important source of pollen for birds, small mammals and insects during the hard, cold months.

Bring your binoculars and watch Black Swans nesting on the main island in Lake Belvedere, Bicentennial Park and an island at the Waterbird Refuge in Badu Mangroves. Islands are an important refuge for nesting waterbirds, providing protection from foxes and other land-based predators.
See if you can catch a Black-shouldered Kite or Nankeen Kestrel hovering over the grassland of Woo-la-ra. These birds are searching for lizards and insects amongst the grasses

Learn more about life in the Park.

The Park is also for animals. Visitors can help to protect and conserve biodiversity by staying out of sensitive habitats, remaining on paths or mown grass and keeping their dog on a lead. Please keep your dog on lead except for in the designated ‘dog off lead’ areas.

Visitors are also asked not to feed birds and animals, this can encourage some species to become pests through changes in their behaviour. Feeding by visitors is not healthy for wild animals; it alters their diet and prevents them from performing their natural role in the environment.

Bird Watching 

Sydney Olympic Park provides excellent bird watching opportunities with its diverse habitats supporting migratory, nomadic and resident birds. More than 200 native species have been recorded. This is the season of migratory birds and the Park has lots of new visitors. Find out more about the birds or explore one of our bird walks!

Read more about Birds of the Armory walks and bird watching.

BirdLife Discovery Centre and EagleCam

Learn more about Australian birds and their habitats at the BirdLife Discovery Centre in Newington Armory. EagleCAM is a live remote feed operating out of the Discovery Centre close to the Parramatta River. Watch live action from our White-bellied Sea-eagle nest and see our Sea Eagle chicks via EagleCam as live and direct as they grow.

Mangrove Boardwalk

Experience the largest remaining stand of grey mangrove forest along the Parramatta River at Badu Mangroves in Bicentennial Park. Step into the dappled shade along the floating wooden boardwalk and look out for the abundant crabs and snails on the muddy shore below, as well as wading birds such as the White-faced Heron and the more secretive Mangrove Heron. Small birds such as the Yellow Thornbill, Silvereye and Grey Fantail may also be seen and heard as they flit through the forest, and Golden Orb-weaving Spiders are abundant in the autumn months when they build their webs in the mangrove canopy. Take a moment to imagine the time when such habitats dominated the rivers and bays of Sydney. More info

Brickpit Ring Walk

Enjoy a bird’s eye view of endangered frog habitat and other unique features of theBrickpit from the Ring Walk, an elevated circular walkway. You’ll see both naturally-formed and constructed ponds that the Green and Golden Bell Frog uses for breeding, with surrounding reeds, rock piles, long grass and weedy vegetation for shelter and foraging. Interpretive material around the Ring Walk explains the Brickpit’s industrial history and unique geology, the evolution of Green and Golden Bell Frog habitat, and the development and operation of the Park’s innovative water recycling scheme (WRAMS).

Narawang Boardwalk

Meander along walking paths and a reed-fringed boardwalk at Narawang Wetland. TheGreen and Golden Bell Frog and other frog species can be heard calling from the ponds during the warmer months, find a quiet shady spot and you may spot some of these web-toed residents. More info

Frog Walk

Take a walk of discovery through the Park's extensive freshwater wetlands and woodlands that support 7 frog species and learn about management of the endangered Green and Golden Bell Frog. There are 70 constructed frog habitat ponds around the Park, with 11 road underpasses and 6km of frog fencing that protect these important local residents. The Frog Walk takes you to the Brickpit Ring, where you have a bird’s eye view of frog habitats, and nearby Wentworth Common and Kronos Hill.

Heritage Railway

Jump aboard the heritage-listed narrow-gauge railway for a trip around the historic precinct of Newington Armory and learn about the Park’s remnant turpentine ironbark forest and the different bat species that inhabit some of the heritage buildings. This unique small-gauge electric railway tour includes a full commentary, taking in protected wetlands and remnant forest not usually accessible to visitors. More info