Monday, April 8, 2019

Major Events and Festivals in the NT: April - August 2019

Looking for an excuse to visit the Northern Territory this year? From the Top End down to the Red Centre, the Territory is home to a rich program of events and festivals. Take in the lights at Parrtjima – A Festival in Light, celebrating the oldest continuous living culture on Earth, or feast on delicious traditional food at A Taste of Kakadu. If you're a music fan, be sure to check out BLACKEN Festival in Alice Springs, and head to Darwin for BASSINTHEGRASS to see some of the biggest names in Australian music. Experience the Territory's quirky side at the Alice Springs Beanie Festival or get your heart rate pumping as part of the Australian Outback Marathon. From cultural experiences to historical events, there's something for everyone to enjoy.

Outback Cycling Easter in the Alice

Alice Springs, 19 – 22 April 2019
Explore Alice on two wheels as part of the Outback Cycling Easter in the Alice, a three-day stage mountain bike race designed to let you take in all the wonder of the Red Centre while satisfying your sporting needs. Ride the amazing flowing single-track under a blanket of deep blue sky while taking in the magnificent views of the MacDonnell Ranges. The route covers 130km of awe-inspiring landscapes with a shorter 70km route available for those keen on a gentler ride.

Outback Cycling Easter in the Alice

Aileron Bush Weekend

Alice Springs, 20-21 April 2019

A wacky weekend where women toss their boots and the locals race donkeys over Easter? Count us in! Perched 130 kilometres north of Alice Springs and a lifetime away from convention, witness cowboys and cowgirls battle it out in one of the country's most extreme rodeo events. Snatch pole position ringside at the Junior and Open Gymkhana on the Saturday morning, experience the notorious Mexican donkey race, and kick your heels up during the Ladies Boot Throwing Competition (sharp stilettos are discouraged). There's also tug-of-war, the Easter Bunny, bush dancing, DJ, plus plenty of camping. Staged in Aileron, home to the Big Aboriginal Statue - a steel, wire and cement sculpture of the Anmatjere Man with woman and child – this is your ultimate bush-bashing adventure.

Aileron Bush Weekend

Territory Tribute: Overture to Peace

Darwin, 24 April 2019

On the eve of ANZAC Day, acclaimed artists, musicians, Aboriginal performers and Defence Service Members will converge on Darwin for a spectacular free live concert. Directed by Australian musician and creative director John Foreman OAM and featuring performances from Human Nature, Dami Im, Marina Prior and the Darwin Symphony Orchestra, this concert promises to be a unique and emotive ceremonial event taking audiences on a journey to learn and appreciate Australian military history.

Overture to Peace

Territory Tribute: ANZAC Day Dawn Service and ANZAC Day Parade

Darwin, 25 April 2019

Hear the bugle sound in the dawn light and pay respect to serving Defence Personnel past and present at Darwin's annual ANZAC Day Dawn Service – a big event on the Top End social calendar. After the service, join the crowd of thousands to line the street and see Service Personnel and Veterans march or visit one of the region's military museums or historical sites.

ANZAC Day Dawn Service and ANZAC Day Parade

Territory Tribute: World's Greatest Two-Up School

Darwin, 25 April 2019

The World's Greatest Two-Up School is sure to be an event to remember, with the community coming together to partake in this unique Australian tradition on the only day of the year it's legal. Join the crowds for rousing calls of “come in spinner!” and try your luck at the 'dance' of two pennies.

World's Greatest Two-Up School

BLACKEN Festival

Alice Springs, 4-5 May 2019

Alice Cooper, eat your heart out. The Northern Territory is poised to deliver heavy metal, Alice Springs-style. One of the most sought-after events on the national heavy metal music scene, BLACKEN is moving to a new location this year at the mouth of the ancient N'Dhala Gorge. This colourful camping festival attracts more than 30 bands performing across two stages. The fierce line-up includes Southeast Desert Metal, Hell Machine and BADMATHS. Want more nocturnal activities with a little less head banging? Head to Alice Springs Desert Park, where 10 minutes from the city centre you'll encounter one of the world's largest nocturnal desert houses. The wildlife here, such as the bilby and mala, may be as hairy as your average rocker but slightly more coy, and we guarantee it's your heart strings, not guitar strings, which they'll tug at.

BLACKEN Festival

A Taste of Kakadu

Kakadu, 10-19 May 2019

A food festival 65,000 years in the making? Sounds good enough to eat. The World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park is bursting with abundance of fresh food including the Kakadu plum, which has been identified as the single natural food source with the highest levels of vitamin C on the planet. But don't just take our word for it. Embrace this 10-day program of locally-inspired food exploration and events. Indulge all your senses with pop-up dining experiences, traditional ground oven feasts, handcrafted menus from celebrity chefs, forage walks with traditional owners, brunch, canape cruises on bird-lined billabongs, and ancestral stories and cultural workshops. Feast on everything from barramundi
to ground oven buffalo, learn modern cooking twists on ancient traditions, and simply come back down to Earth, Territory style. We've saved you a seat around the fire.

A Taste of Kakadu


Darwin, 19 May 2019

With a new seaside location and twelve of the hottest hours in Australian music, this year's BASSINTHEGRASS is set to be the biggest and best Darwin has ever seen. Think back-to-back beats, laid-back vibes and a killer line-up of more than 18 artists, including ARIA winners and some of the biggest names in Aussie music. Australia, you're going to hear Darwin roar! If you want more grunt as part of your Darwin visit, be sure to visit Crocosaurus Cove, the largest exhibition of Australian reptiles in the world with some of the largest Northern Territory saltwater crocodiles on display. From rock to croc, Darwin's got the lot.


Garrmalang Festival

Darwin, 23-26 May 2019

Join indigenous Artistic Director Gary Lang in Darwin on a jaunty journey which showcases Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, dancers, musicians and performers from remote communities. Garrmalang Festival is the only festival in the Northern Territory exclusively showcasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander talent. Gather at the Darwin Entertainment centre on the Garrmalang land of the local Larrakia people to share stages, stories, forums and songs.

Garrmalang Festival

Uluru Camel Cup

Uluru, 24-25 May 2019

All class and no grass – it's like the Melbourne Cup, with some extra humps thrown in. Visitors can enjoy all the racing action and fashion you'd expect from a trackside event, but against a stunning desert backdrop in Australia's Red Centre. While camels may have a reputation as dedicated 'ships of the desert', these ornery creatures are not short on personality, making for fantastic spectator viewing. On and off the track there's lots to see with entertainment including stock whip demonstrations, wheel barrow races, kids' sack race and even a camel dung throwing competition.

Uluru Camel Cup

Territory Taste Festival

Darwin, 25-26 May 2019

Join Manu Feildel and some of the country's most notable gourmands to sample the best food and wine in the Top End at the Territory Taste Festival. For one weekend, Northern Territory producers, farmers, growers, suppliers and bush harvest experts showcase the culinary delights of the NT. Guests are set to enjoy more than 40 food and wine stalls, masterclasses, demonstrations, a producers' pavilion and live music throughout the weekend. The event promises to be bigger and better in 2019, moving to a brand-new location at the Darwin Cruise Shop Terminal and adjoining Fort Hill Wharf.

Territory Taste Festival

Barunga Festival

Arnhem Land, 7-9 June 2019

In ancient Arnhem Land, the birthplace of Yothu Yindi front man Mandawuy Yunupingu, the Barunga Festival has etched itself onto the national festival calendar, celebrating a long and proud tradition of storytelling and celebrating the culture of its remote Aboriginal people. This annual festival attracts as many as 4,000 visitors from around the world, who camp in the Katherine region to experience a pumping program of music, sport, and traditional arts and cultural activities from remote Northern Territory communities. The event takes place on the land of the traditional Barunga owners, just over the border in Arnhem Land. In 1988, Aboriginal leaders presented Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke with the Barunga Statement, calling for a treaty, which inspired Yothu Yindi to write the worldwide hit “Treaty”. These days, the community celebrates through football, basketball, softball, contemporary and traditional music, and arts and culture. There's also the Barunga Art Prize, a Story Telling Circle and an International Didgeridoo Competition. Just follow the harmonious hum of one of the oldest instruments in the world.

Barunga Festival

Tatts Finke Desert Race

Alice Springs, 7-10 June 2019

What happens when the fastest and richest off-road race in Australia meets the oldest river system in the world? Enter, the Tatts Finke Desert Race. This multi-terrain, two-day race attracts more than 600 competitors racing over a 460-kilometre course through desert country from Alice Springs to the Finke River in the tiny Aboriginal Aputula Community. Considered one of the most difficult off-road races, competitors in their bikes, cars and buggies vie for the King of the Desert Trophy. From red dust and dry river beds, sand and spinifex, to this rich river system believed to date as far back as 340 million years, whether you are a participant or spectator, this is one race worth burning a bit of rubber for.

Tatts Finke Desert Race

Easy Bet Darwin Triple Crown

Darwin, 14-16 June 2019

When diesel meets Darwin you end up with rev-head heaven. Lauded as Darwin's biggest party, the event combines the best of Australian car racing, with a packed schedule of activities both on and off the track. From cool concerts to the Hot Wheels Stunz Inc Team, expect three days of adrenalin and action perfect for mates escapes to family fun and everything in between.

Darwin Triple Crown

Alice Springs Beanie Festival

Alice Springs, 28 June – 1 July 2019

Hats off to Alice Springs, the Beanie Capital of the World. Now in its 22nd year, the Alice Springs Beanie Festival brings together more than 6,500 handmade beanies from around the world, in the Weaving the Magic exhibition which encourages you to try and buy. But there's more than just beanies. This wacky weekend includes art exhibitions, textile workshops, live entertainment, homemade food and local Aboriginal culture. Head to Beanie Central for cultural and creative workshops, or for some kangaroo tail roasted on the campfire.

Alice Springs Beanie Festival

Territory Day

Territory-wide, 1 July 2019

The Northern Territory celebrates 41 years of self-government on 1 July with a host of events from Darwin, to Katherine, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs and beyond. And it has many reasons to celebrate. Measuring a massive 1,349,129 square kilometres, the Northern Territory accounts for 17.5 per cent of Australia's total land mass and the Top End boasts a coastline that extends more than 13,500 kilometres. 2018 saw the Territory receive a host of accolades. The Red Centre was crowned number four in Lonely Planet's prestigious Best in Travel List, while Litchfield National Park was recognised as a best new opening. Flock to Darwin on Territory Day and witness this colourful capital burst into light in a rainbow of rockets, bangers and Roman candles. Watch fireworks explode over Timor Sea from Mindil Beach, home to the best beach markets in the country, and see what makes the Territory so damn fine.

Territory Day

Darwin Fringe Festival

Darwin, 5-14 July 2019

Blend Darwin's culturally diverse population with its edgy and eclectic vibe, and you get the Darwin Fringe Festival. A vibrant 10-day event celebrating creativity and diversity, expect music, theatre, dance, comedy and visual arts. Organisers say it celebrates every genre you can think of (and a few that might be made up) which makes this community arts festival the hottest on the calendar, in the middle of our deliciously dry winter weather.

Darwin Fringe Festival

Apex Camel Cup

Alice Springs, 13 July 2019

Fun fact: around 200,000 wild one-hump camels roam the Northern Territory. Another fun fact: Alice Springs boasts the only purpose-built camel racing venue in the Southern Hemisphere. To discover more fun facts and dromedary delights, head to the Apex Camel Cup. You'll encounter plenty of camels and characters at this one-day event, including cameleer Neil Waters, who first rode in the cup in 1978 and is still going strong over 40 years later.

Apex Camel Cup

Darwin Lions Beer Can Regatta

Darwin, 14 July 2019

The Darwin Lion's Beer Can Regatta is one of Australia's weirdest events. Contestants float and flounder off Mindil Beach in homemade boats, made of beer cans, plastic bottles and even the odd carton. Launched in 1974, it was first floated in a bid to clean up rubbish around Darwin. Now the event raises money for a good cause, with more than $150,000 donated to the Combined Lions Clubs of Darwin. We'll drink to that.

Darwin Lions Beer Can Regatta

Australian Outback Marathon

Uluru & surrounds, 27 July 2019

We reckon it's Australia's most scenic marathon, with runners treated to incredible views of both Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Staged in the middle of the cool, dry season, there are several courses including the full and half marathon, plus an 11-kilometre and six-kilometre fun run. Spectators are invited to line the course and cheer on the runners, and there may even be a wine or two at the end.

Australian Outback Marathon

Desert Harmony Festival

Tennant Creek, 2-5 August 2019

Desert Harmony Festival is turning the big 3-0 in 2019! Arguably Australia's most remote festival, head to Tennant Creek for five days of red dirt, blankets of stars and desert culture. Hosted by Barkly Regional Arts Centre and held on the lands of the Warumungu people, this year's theme is 'My Arts, My Culture.' Attracting interstate visitors as well as Aboriginal people, the festival immerses visitors in the arts with workshops, adventure tours, sports and cultural activities available. Visitors can also apply to “Go Walkabout” and volunteer their time in return for an experience of a lifetime. From a bush ride up the highway to Outback glamping and Aboriginal culture immersion, this is a true-blue festival for those who want to write their own desert story.

Desert Harmony Festival

Darwin Festival

Darwin, 8-25 August 2019

The Darwin Festival is an 18-day celebration of music, theatre, visual art, dance and cabaret. Flock to the Festival Lounge or encounter bamboo food stalls and pop-up bars around Australia's only truly tropical capital city. Feast with locals and visitors along long communal tables in Festival Park, indulging in Asian cuisine at one of the many outdoor events.

Darwin Festival

The 13th Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair

Darwin, 9-11 August 2019

From the territory which gave the world Australia's most acclaimed Aboriginal artists such as Albert Namatjira, Turkey Tolson Tjupurrula and Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, the 13th Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair provides a rare opportunity for visitors to purchase art directly from more than 60 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-owned and incorporated Art Centres. The Darwin Convention Centre hosts this fair which collectively represents more than 2,000 emerging and established artists in what is believed to be the biggest event of its kind in Australia. Visitors are presented with the chance to ethically purchase art including paintings on canvas and bark, works on paper including limited-edition prints, sculptures, didgeridoos, fibre art and other cultural regalia. Traditional dance and free artist workshops add the final flourish to this fair.

The 13th Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair

Run Larapinta Stage Race

Alice Springs, 16-19 August 2019

Why walk when you can run along one of the country's best and most popular tracks? The Larapinta Trail, which snakes for 223 kilometres along the Tjoritja/West MacDonnell Ranges in Central Australia, arguably serves up the best of Australian Outback scenery. Run Larapinta snatches the highlights and funnels them
into a four-day, four-stage race, serving up boundless beauty and breathless exuberance along the way. There are two options to choose from: The Malbunka (long course), which sees runners complete between 20 and 45 kilometres each day; or The Namatjira (short course), whose daily stages are slightly smaller at between 10 and 30 kilometres. Regardless of distance, all competitors will be treated to stunning sights including Standley Chasm; Ormiston Gorge and Glen Helen.

Run Larapinta Stage Race

Rotary Henley on Todd Regatta

Alice Springs, 17 August 2019

Alice Springs is home to the world's only land regatta and Australia's oldest regatta, staging the Rotary Henley on Todd since 1962. A medley of land-based boat races, attracting everything from home-made dinghies to pirate ships, competitors race along the bone-dry Todd River bed. But the fun doesn't end there. Expect Budgie-Smuggler Races, Anchor the Boat Tug-of-Wars and of course, The Battle of the Boats.

Rotary Henley on Todd Regatta

The Redback

Alice Springs, 22-25 August 2019

The Redback is a four-day, six-stage race through the Red Centre starting at Alice Springs, which boasts kilometres of hand-built single tracks designed specifically for mountain bikers. Kicking things off is a brand-new Stage One course, a cross country race. Stage Two climbs 300 metres to Anzac Hill, followed by time trials, night racing and a sprint to finish at the Mercure Alice Springs Resort.

The Redback

To plan your Northern Territory adventure visit:

What's New on Queensland's Sunshine Coast in 2019

What's New in: FOOD

The Curated Plate launches on the Sunshine Coast

The Curated Plate, a new four-day destination food festival, is set to make its debut on the Sunshine Coast this year in an event that will redefine regional dining. The festival will be held from 8-11 August and bring together the region's finest produce with the best chefs in the Australian and international dining scene, including Japan's 'best restaurant' chef, Zaiyu Hasegawa. Exclusive culinary events will span the region from the coast to the hinterland with local experiences, including food trails and farm tours, featured in the program. The festival's key themes will centre around local produce and producers, sustainable practices, artisan culture and health and wellness. The recently announced debut program reads like a who's who of the culinary scene, with the best chefs from across Australia and indeed the world converging in region for the four-day celebration of local produce.This will be accompanied by the extended Destination Series program from 5-18 August, put together by those who know the region best: the locals.

Restaurant hub booms at The Wharf Mooloolaba

The Wharf Mooloolaba has undergone a major redevelopment, with new restaurants, attractions and retail stores transforming the space in to a hot new food destination. Stage two of the multi-million refurbishment saw burger and dessert bar – Ninth Street – open its doors in December 2018, along with traditional Italian restaurant Il Vento. The Wharf is also home to the Sunshine Coast's newest live music venue: The Boston Shaker Bar, Colombian café La Finca and Fior di Latte Gelateria. As well as eateries a number of fashion, lifestyle and homewares stores have opened their doors in the precinct, including Gingers, Bedouin Traders, Mikimi Australian Resortwear and Meraki Thread Co.

Sunshine Coast brews news

Founded by two mates who quit their jobs to chase their love of beer, Your Mates Brewing is the quintessential Australian dream. The team behind the successful brewery launched their own brewhouse in Warana in late 2018 offering a drool-worthy lunch and dinner menu. They also released a new mid strength lager, called Macca, and their pale ale Larry recently placed in the GABS Hottest 100 Craft Beers of the Year awards.

Meet local producers and discover the Sunshine Coast's amazing fresh produce on the newly launched Farm to Fork Brewery Tour. The tour, run by Creative Tours and Events, visits Sunshine Coast Coffee Roastery, The Falls Farm in Mapleton and Maleny Wagyu before ending with a four-course lunch and matched beers at Brouhaha Brewery in Maleny.

What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than kicking back with a cold beer and gourmet pizza? At Glass House Brewery, you can do just that. Over the past few years the Sunshine Coast's craft beer scene has skyrocketed, repositioning the region as a leading brewery destination. At last count, there were 13 breweries in the region. Glass House Brewery is the latest offering and is setting itself apart with a wholesome Italian-style cuisine.

AR-T tea business brewing up awards

Sunshine Coast botanist Monica Naples has turned her talent in to a passion; blending unique loose-leaf tea. Monica's love for crafting the perfect brew saw her launch AR-T, selling blends that are flavoursome and environmentally and socially responsible. Two of her blends, the Mint Fusion and Chocolate Mint flavours, recently won silver at the Golden Leaf Awards, Australia's premier tea awards event.

Cat café to open doors on Sunshine Coast

Cat lovers are in for a treat with the opening of the Sunshine Coast's first cat café. The Cat Retreat Café works in partnership with the Sunshine Coast Animal refuge to house cats looking for a new home. Exposure to different people
and environments through the café will ensure the cats are well adjusted before they are adopted. At the café diners can get their coffee and cake takeaway to sit in the 'Zen Zone' with the cats, with other options for cat meditation and therapy.

A Touch of Deep Love has launched empowering Women's Retreats in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. 

What's new in: EVENTS

The iconic Eumundi Markets turn 40

On 24 March, 1979 three market stall holders set up shop in Eumundi's CWA Hall. This was the beginning of The Original Eumundi Markets. Today the market is a must see for travellers on the Sunshine Coast, with their 'make it, bake it, sew it, grow it' philosophy attracting 1.2 million visitors annually. This year the markets celebrated their milestone 40th birthday.

Maleny Dairies host inaugural Spartan Race Sunshine Coast

Maleny Dairies will provide the backdrop for the inaugural Spartan Race Sunshine Coast. The grueling event will be held in the region for the first time from 6-7 April, allowing visitors to test their stamina on the 'world's best' obstacle course. The event will see competitors run through mud, swim through dams and conquer obstacles.

Qld Garden Expo launches 'Sunday Sessions

The Qld Garden Expo, held from 12-14 July in Nambour on the Sunshine Coast, will host their first 'Sunday Sessions' at this year's event; a series of hands-on creative and practical workshops led by a qualified horticulturalist on the final day of the event.

South Sydney Rabbitohs vs New Zealand Warriors

Footy fans from interstate and across the ditch will have their eyes on the Sunshine Coast this April as the South Sydney Rabbitohs take on the New Zealand Warriors in their round five clash. The game will be the first time a first-grade rugby league match has been brought to the Sunshine Coast in what is a three-year partnership with the Rabbitohs.

Sunshine Coast Lightning defend title

Sunshine Coast Lightning will look to defend their back-to-back Suncorp Super Netball titles in 2019, with six games scheduled at the club's newly renovated home ground: The University of the Sunshine Coast Stadium. The first home game is scheduled for Sunday, 12 May.

New women's retreat heads to Hinterland

Self-nourishment, yoga, mindfulness and positive affirmations are at the forefront of an empowering new Women's Retreat starting in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. The full-day and weekend-long retreats will be run by A Touch of Deep Love and include a powerful photo shoot, art classes, guest speakers and a three-course meal under the stars.

What's new in: TRAVEL

New Qantas flights create international connections

The latest service added to the Airport's schedule on 1 April is a daily direct service by Qantas from Sydney, which departs Sydney at 10.30am, arriving Sunshine Coast at 12.05pm, enabling it to connect with 15 Qantas inbound flights that arrive in to Sydney from Europe, Asia, America and New Zealand in the early morning. It will allow for seamless, single-ticket travel to the Sunshine Coast for international visitors. The flight's return departure time from Sunshine Coast is also conveniently scheduled to connect with a wide range of outbound international flights from Sydney.

Sunshine Coast Airport expansion

A new, longer and wider runway currently under construction will enable Sunshine Coast Airport to attract a wide range of direct flights from the Asia Pacific region. The new runway is scheduled to open by the end of 2020. Sunshine Coast Airport already attracts seasonal international flights from Auckland, but the new runway will enable services from South East Asia, as well as other markets in New Zealand and across the Pacific. Countries identified by Sunshine Coast Airport as potential targets for direct services following the inauguration include: China, Fiji, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. The runway will also allow connection with longer-haul Australian cities such as Perth and Darwin, and more regular peak-hour services with major east coast domestic airports.

Pedalling green with EcoTekk Electric Bikes

Exploring a new area by bike is nothing new, but doing it without the need to pedal is. EcoTekk Electric Bikes is now servicing the entire Sunshine Coast, offering visitors a chance to explore the region without working up a sweat. With no shortage of tracks to choose from, it's a great way to discover the Sunshine Coast.

RACV Noosa offers guests Car Share hire

Guests staying at RACV Noosa Resort now have 24/7 access to a car during their stay. The resort has introduced a Car Share App, allowing guests to simply select the time and date they choose to travel.

What's new in: ATTRACTIONS

Permission to thrill on Aussie World's new ride

Strap yourself in and hold on tight, Aussie World is set to launch a new ride that will challenge even the most daring of thrill seekers. The Typhoon SX 360 will be the first of its kind in Australia, catapulting guests up to 80km per hour on a full inversion at 360°. Aussie World has also renovated the entire façade of The Pub, formerly known at the Ettamogah Pub.

'Beez Knees' mountain bike track open in Caloundra

Tucked away in bushland just 10 minutes' drive from the beach is an attraction of a different kind. The Beez Kneez Black-Diamond Trail is 900m of gravity flow generators, wall rides and jumps, making it the perfect playground for mountain bikers. The new track opened at the end of 2018 and is located in the Caloundra Town Reserve.

Australia's first solar-powered canoe tour

Harness the power of the sun to fuel your next adventure with Eco River Rides. The tour company uses innovative solar-powered canoes to take visitors on an unforgettable journey through the Maroochy River Wetlands and is the first of its kind in Australia.

TreeTop Challenge launches

Thrill seekers looking to push their fear of heights to the limit need look no further than the TreeTop Challenge. The high-ropes adventure in the Sunshine Coast's iconic Big Pineapple precinct opened in March 2019 and includes more than 100 activities across a 2km course, including a 120m long zipline.

Mary Valley Rattler introduces new services

The Mary Valley Rattler has been restored to its former glory, relaunching to the public in late 2018 to take passengers back in time on scenic journeys through the Mary Valley. New to the Rattler this year is the introduction of 'Retro Fridays': a journey on board their 1960's Silver Bullet railmotor with complimentary breakfast or lunch at the Platform No. 1 Café. The Rattler also runs a Picnic Train on Thursdays.

Fly above the Glass House Mountains with Paradise Seaplanes

Paradise Seaplanes, which takes off from the stunning Maroochy River, has added a new flight to their repertoire: The Noosa to Glass House Adventure. The new 60-minute joy flight will take passengers from the Noosa beaches to the majestic Glass House Mountains.

Ocean View Heli takes off to Flame Hill Vineyard

Flame Hill Vineyard is a Sunshine coast institution producing fine wines, and fine dining, with scenic views over the coastline. In a Sunshine Coast first Ocean View Heli has partnered with Flame Hill, offering visitors a three-hour 'Fly 'n' Dine' journey taking them by chopper to the vineyard for lunch.

The Events Centre Caloundra Upgrade

One of the Sunshine Coast's premier live production venues, The Events Centre Caloundra, is currently undergoing a major renovation. The renovation will include a new covered entry, an upgrade to the air-conditioning, box office, foyer and main theatre. The Centre will reopen in April 2019, providing a first-class facility for live shows on the Sunshine Coast.

Doors set to open on new $8 million convention centre

In a move that will reposition the Sunshine Coast as a leading business events destination, Novotel Twin Waters Resort will this May open the doors to their new $8 million convention centre. The facility, combined with the resort's existing Wandiny Pavilion, will bring the centre's overall capacity to 3,400 delegates. The new centre is already set to host the 2019 Queensland Tourism Awards in November 2019.

Ladies only Sunshine Coast tours launch

Looking to plan the ultimate girl's trip? CC Tours and Travel offers ladies only foodie experiences on the Sunshine Coast, allowing you to eat, drink and shop until your heart's content. The fully escorted tours include private transfers, first class dining and handcrafted experiences, including 'Foodie and Furnishings' and 'Hinterland Highs' tours.

The Big Pineapple's $150 million renewal project

Work has started on restoring the Sunshine Coast's iconic The Big Pineapple to its former glory through a $150 million renewal project. Work includes the new Treetop Challenge high ropes adventure course, water park, major events space, onsite accommodation and $60 million agribusiness precinct.

Triballink Activity Centre opens in Mapleton

Visitors are encouraged to learn about Indigenous culture at the newly opened Triballink Activity Centre. Run by Goombuckar Creations, Triballink offers a Dreamtime Immersion with a night walk through the rainforest, local Dreamtime storytelling and bush tucker, as well as a night time Aboriginal dance and dinner immersion experience. Triballink is located at the Queensland Conference and Camping Centre in Mapleton.

Croc Tours to Australia Zoo

Croc Tours is a locally owned company that is passionate about wildlife conservation and specialises in small group tours to Australia Zoo from the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane. Croc Tours' vehicles are modern, fully air conditioned with plenty of leg room and are designed for total comfort.

What's new in: ACCOMMODATION

New Mary Valley 'Ride and Relax' Escape

Amamoor Lodge is now offering the ultimate Mary Valley escape with a 'Ride and Relax' package allowing visitors to explore the region on board the Mary Valley Rattler before retiring to the Lodge to unwind. The package includes a 'slow food' dinner for two with a bottle of wine at Amamoor Lodge, two return tickets on the Rattler, boutique accommodation and a full breakfast.

Alex Beach Cabins and Tourist Park revamp

Family-owned Alex Beach Cabins and Tourist Park has been a staple of Alexandra Headlands since 1974. The Park recently underwent a major renovation with a new luxury resort-style pool, playground and fully refurbished accommodation options. Located less than 200m from the beach, it's the perfect family escape.

Makepeace Island's makeover

Makepeace Island, Sir Richard Branson's heart-shaped home on the Sunshine Coast, has reopened its doors to the public after an extensive makeover to the resort's facilities. The private island on Noosa River offers a unique fusion of luxury and wilderness, creating the ultimate escape just minutes from Noosa. The makeover was overseen by acclaimed interior designer June Robinson Scott, who has previously been commissioned for the interior design of Necker Island and The Branson Estate.

At one with nature

Get back in touch with nature at Mapleton Springs B&B. The new offering in the hinterland town of Mapleton offers expansive views over rolling hills, an infinity pool, spa and delicious cooked breakfast. The owners are also animal carers, so you'll often find rescue joeys, as well as an abundance of local wildlife, around the property.

Glamp on the wild side

Nestled on 65 acres of natural bushland, with a 500m beachfront on Noosa River, Habitat Noosa is a wilderness experience like no other. The world-class eco-facility is home to a large eastern grey kangaroo population and offers guests a range of accommodation, dining and tour options. The Everglades Ecocamp relaunched this year having been built on an existing campground. It offers paperbark tents, cabins and wilderness tents for guests as well as powered or unpowered sites for campers, motorhomes and RVs. Habitat Noosa is located just five minutes' boat ride from Noosa Everglades, or a 25-minute drive to Noosa Heads.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

What's New in Ottawa's Food and Drink Scene

  • Throughout 2019, beloved cheesemakers St. Albert Cheese Co-operative celebrate 125 years of making delicious cheese—especially loved are the squeaky cheese curds used in poutine!
  • Speaking of poutine, Ottawa gives you two separate opportunities in spring to indulge your cravings. Enjoy French fries, gravy, and cheese curds at Poutinefest on Sparks Street(April 25-28) and Ottawa Poutinefest outside Ottawa City Hall (May 2-5).
  • New! Ottawa’s Chinatown neighbourhood welcomed Corner Peach in January 2019, a cool café during the day that transforms into a “fancy diner” at night.
  • New! The food hall concept has arrived in Ottawa with the launch of Queen St. Fare, which opened in early December 2018 on, yes, Queen Street in downtown Ottawa. Choose from Mexican, Vietnamese, pizzas, burgers, and plentiful vegetarian options—not to mention great local craft beer and talented mixologists. The venue— adjacent to a stop along the (coming-in-2019) Light Rail Transit system called the Confederation Line—has a capacity of 390 and hosts regular live music events.
  • The second annual Vegan Night Market takes place April 6 at Lansdowne.
  • New! OCCO Kitchen, which has delighted diners in Ottawa’s Orléans neighbourhood for years, opened a downtown location at the Albert at Bay Suite Hotel in early 2019.
  • New! The Rabbit Hole hides its expansive stone-walled basement under a small street-level space on Sparks Street in downtown Ottawa.
  • New! Popular chef Joe Thottungal opened a sister restaurant to Coconut Lagoon: Thaliserves platters that cover sweet, salty, bitter, sour, astringent, and spicy flavours all on one plate, right in downtown Ottawa.
  • New! In Almonte, Ontario, a new distillery has opened that makes its products with milk byproducts, reducing waste and supporting local dairy farmers. Dairy Distillery’s vodka—called Vodkow, of course—is sold in clear glass milk bottles!
  • New! Brew Revolution joins the local craft brewery scene when it opens in the west-end suburb of Stittsville in spring 2019.
  • New! Kichesippi Brewing Company opens a new—much larger—tasting room in spring 2019.
  • A stalwart of the ByWard Market neighbourhood, the Fish Market Restaurant (along with its downstairs wine cellar Vineyards Wine Bar Bistro and its upstairs pub Coasters Seafood Grill) celebrates its 40th anniversary in April 2019.
  • New! An Ottawa coffee company is tackling the issue of unsafe drinking water on First Nations reserves in Canada. For every 40 bags of coffee sold, Birch Bark Coffee Company can provide one water filtration system. Great coffee for a great cause!

Friday, March 29, 2019

The wonder of the Marquesas

The archipelago of French Polynesia closest to the Equator, it is also the farthest from the island of Tahiti, at a distance of about 1,500 km (900 miles), it includes a dozen islands and islets of which only six are inhabited. 

Like all the islands in French Polynesia, the Marquesas are actually the top of gigantic submerged volcanoes, now inactive, risen from the bottom of the ocean between 1 and 6 million years BC. Geologically «young», these lands make all the roughness and size of their scenery with their powerful ridges, cliffs diving straight into the sea and their peaks rising sometimes to over 1,300 m in altitude. 

The settlement of the Marquesas by Polynesian sailors coming from the West dates back to around the year 1000. Once they were settled, the Marquesans developed a highly structured and complex civilization. It was not until 1595 and the brief landing of Spanish navigator and explorer Mendana that the first contact was established between Europeans and Polynesians. 

The early 19th century saw European settlements. then in 1842, France annexed the archipelago. The shock of colonization caused a dramatic decline in population, which only ended in the early 20th century. Today the Marquesas count about 8,300 inhabitants. The islands of Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa are the most populated. The main activities are agriculture, fishing and tourism, which can enhance the important natural and cultural heritage of these islands.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Three wildlife encounters you can only have in Yukon, #Canada

Yukon Territory, in Canada’s north west, is one of the few natural havens on Earth where wildlife is not just surviving but thriving. Home to only 38,000 people, the population of moose, bears, caribou, and sheep (to name a few), far exceeds the human residents.

The number of Australian travellers, photographers and wildlife-lovers visiting Yukon is increasing each year, and with good reason. Read on for three close-encounters of the wild kind you won’t find anywhere else.

Yukon ‘Ice Bears’

Only in Yukon can you encounter grizzly bears in their sub-arctic wilderness home. The Ni’iinlii’njik (Fishing Branch) Territorial Park in the Territory’s far north is one of Canada’s most pristine wilderness areas, its limestone caves, salmon runs and grizzly bears undamaged by civilization and the passing of time.

Located in the Park, Bear Cave Mountain Eco-Adventures offers once-in-a-lifetime grizzly bear excursions, with professional guides providing safe encounters with breathtaking grizzlies and other wildlife, starting with a two-hour helicopter ride from Dawson City, with incredible views of snow-covered mountains, rivers and arctic tundra.

Immerse yourself in the unique culture of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, dating back thousands of years, and allow the serenity of this tranquil piece of heaven permeate your being and make you wish you could stay forever.

Celebration of Swans

Canada’s leading bird festival swoops into Yukon Territory in April, as thousands of trumpeter and tundra swans come home to rest, feed and breed. Each year, bird-lovers flock to Marsh Lake, where the Swan Haven Interpretive Centre is the festival hub for this spectacular phenomenon.

Up to 13,000 swans fly over Whitehorse and the southern regions annually, signalling the end of winter, as they return to raise their young after spending the winter in the Canadian Pacific Coast region.

Yukon is a bird-lover’s paradise, home to more than 200 species of birds throughout the territory, including the Bald Eagle, Great Gray Owl, Yellow Rumped Warbler, Bufflehead, Northern Hawk Owl, Great Horned Owl, Boreal Owl, and Horned Lark.

In addition to Swan Haven, key places to observe birds in the Yukon include the Albert Creek Bird Observatory near Watson Lake, Teslin Lake Bird Observatory, and McIntyre Marsh Bird Observatory.

Yukon Wildlife Preserve

The whole of Yukon is a wildlife sanctuary; a place where the moose outnumber the humans two to one. The Territory boasts three national parks, six territorial parks and four Canadian Heritage Rivers, a haven for more than 165,000 caribou, 70,000 moose, 22,000 mountain sheep, 7,000 grizzly bears, 10,000 black bears and 250 species of birds.

You’re in with a great chance of spotting wildlife meandering alongside the road and on the hiking trails, but for a fail-safe way to encounter these magnificent creatures, head to the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, where 700 acres of lush green hills, marshes, steep cliffs and flat-lands, are the perfect ecosystem for 13 species of northern Canadian mammals. We’re talking bison, moose, mule, deer, woodland caribou, elk, mountain goats, Canada lynx, and foxes, to name a few.

Just 25 minutes from downtown Whitehorse, you can walk, ski, snowshoe or bike the five-kilometre viewing loop, or jump on a bus tour with a knowledgeable interpreter. However you choose to experience it, be prepared for wildlife encounters you’ll never forget.

Getting to Yukon Territory

Air Canada has direct flights to Vancouver from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, with connecting flights to Whitehorse and Dawson City available on Air North.

For more information about Yukon visit

Monday, March 25, 2019

Thunderstruck by the Zambezi

For most of us, the word Zambezi conjures up images of bygone adventurers returning from unspoilt wilderness with tales of derring-do. Thankfully, Zambia's most famous river remains much unchanged today, teeming with phenomenal wildlife and ripe for exploring.

One of the best bases from which to experience the mighty Zambezi in all its glory is Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma operated by luxury boutique safari company, Sanctuary Retreats. Named after Dr David Livingstone's faithful friends Sussi and Chuma, the property is built on a dramatic bend of river on the edge of Zambia’s Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park in one of the most beautiful parts of the Zambezi, amidst Jackalberry trees and Phoenix palms, providing unrivalled views and exclusivity.

Reopening midway through last year after an extensive refurbishment, the lodge’s twelve luxurious Sussi treehouses, linked by elevated wooden walkways, offer a sophisticated take on modern safari life. Each one features stylish interiors such as local artworks, handcrafted rugs, and easy chairs dressed in a map print evoking the intrepid trails of the Lodge’s erstwhile namesakes – Sussi and Chuma, plus plenty of indulgent touches including freestanding baths, a fully stocked minibar and gym boxes for in-room workouts. Adding to the feeling of exclusivity, the riverfront terrace of each treehouse has also been redesigned to deliver guests with even greater privacy and shade.

Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma also offers two private houses, each with two bedrooms, its own dining area and deck with plunge pools, as well as a private chef and dedicated staff – perfect for families, multigenerational travellers, or those seeking the ultimate exclusive safari getaway.

Victoria Falls (Roderick Eime)
Of course, the biggest game in town is the world-famous Victoria Falls just a few kilometres downstream. To appreciate its full impact, the best time to visit is from February to June, directly after the region’s summer rains, when the Zambezi River is in full flood and you’ll see the world’s largest sheet of falling water flowing at its greatest volume.

First described to Europe by Livingstone and known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya, or the Smoke that Thunders, for most visitors the Falls can be a sensory overload. The constant roar is accompanied by a cloud of brilliant spray, where the mile-wide Upper Zambezi falls 300 feet into the Lower Zambezi in an unforgettable natural showstopper.

The Falls are a spectacular sight from both the Zambian and Zimbabwean sides, as the water pours over the edge, with rainbows constantly forming and collapsing in the tropical sunlight. Sussi & Chuma offers guests walking tours of the Falls through ebony groves and mopane forest bordering the River, but for a truly breath-taking bird's eye view, try a helicopter flight over the top.

Of course, the Zambezi has much to offer aside from Victoria Falls. A sunset cruise is a great way to spend a few hours on the river before drifting back to the lodge, a warm shower and delicious dinner. Sanctuary's boats are specially designed, with guides taking the boat through a series of Grade 2 rapids before finding a spot to beach for a break and a sunset cocktail. The combination of Zambezi spray on your face followed by a delicious cocktail while watching the sunset over the majestic Zambezi River makes for an unforgettable experience.

Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma also offers up plenty of safari drives and walking safari opportunities in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, where guests can follow in the footsteps of Livingstone – literally, as he first made his way across the ridge and beheld the Smoke that Thunders. As well as elephant, impala, giraffe, buffalo, hippo, crocodile, zebra in large numbers and an exciting array of birds, guests may even be lucky enough to enjoy a rare sighting of the African Wild Dog that occasionally passes through the park.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Switzerland, a Land of World Record Breakers

Switzerland might be a small country that is roughly two-thirds the size of Tasmania, but this country is big on breaking world records. Here, Switzerland Tourism has rounded up 12 of the country's most amazing world-record breaking attractions.

1. World's Steepest Cogwheel Railway

With a 48-degree gradient, this cogwheel railway is one of the biggest attractions on Lake Lucerne. Ascending 1,635m from Alpnachstad (where the ferry stops), the railway travels 4,618m up to the fun park of Mt Pilatus. Operating between May and November the ride takes about 30 minutes passing through rugged rock faces and lush vegetation.

2. World's Longest Suspension Bridge

Stretching across 494m, the Charles Kuonen Bridge offers adrenaline seekers an unforgettable thrill. Connecting a hiking trail between Grachen and Zermatt, views from the bridge are equally thrilling, being set against the world's most recognisable mountain peak, the Matterhorn.

3. World's Longest Tunnel

With a long and legendary history dating back to the 13th century, the Gotthard Base Tunnel took 17 years to construct. The 57km tunnel runs through the mountain at a depth of up to 2,300m. Apart from being an engineering feat, the Gotthard Base Tunnel also leads the way in ecological evolution being powered by hydroelectricity.

4. World's Oldest Covered Wooden Footbridge

Dating back to the 14th century and as part of the original fortifications, the Chapel Bridge in Lucerne was destroyed in a fire in 1993, but quickly restored back to its original form. A major highlight in Lucerne, the bridge is decorated with pictorial panels initially installed in the 17th century, depicting historical scenes of the city and country.

5. World's First Revolving Cable Car

Not far from Lucerne is the 3,062m high Mt Titlis, home to Europe's highest suspension bridge and the glacier chairlift 'Ice Flyer'. To get up there, one must take a thoroughly scenic 30-minute ride on the Titlis Rotair, the world's first revolving cable car travelling above the spectacular alpine landscape.

6. World's Highest Consumption of Chocolate

Given Switzerland is well known for its high-quality chocolate, it comes as no surprise that the Swiss enjoy indulging in their country's sweet treats, consuming an average of 8.8kg per person in 2017. Switzerland's most famous chocolate brands include Nestle, Lindt, and Toblerone.

7. World's Highest Density of Michelin-Starred Restaurants Per Capita

2019 recorded a total of 128 Michelin starred restaurants in Switzerland, resulting in the country having the most number of top-rated restaurants per capita. The latest Swiss restaurants that landed in the Michelin guide include focus in Vitznau and Pavillon in Zurich.

8. World's Longest downhill ski race 

Attracting an average of 30,000 spectators each year, the history of the Lauberhorn-Wengen FIS Alpine Ski World Cup dates back to 1930 and takes place every year in mid-January. With the downhill course stretching over 4.4km, run times are usually 2.5mins where top speeds reach about 160km/h.

9. World's Longest Staircase 

Located in the Bernese Alps, the pyramid-shaped mountain peak of Niesen overlooks Lake Thun in Interlaken from 2,362m asl. Ascending the peak can be done via a funicular, which departs every 30 minutes from 8am to 5pm, or by the impressive 11,674 steps.

10. World's Only Peak-to-Peak Suspension Bridge

Boasting spectacular views of more than 24 snow-capped peaks of at least 4,000m asl including the Eiger, Monch, the Matterhorn, Jungfraujoch, and even Mont Blanc, the Peak Walk at Glacier 3000 is the world's first suspension footbridge linking two mountains peaks. To get there,

11. World's Oldest Vegetarian Restaurant

Holding the record of the oldest continuously opened vegetarian restaurant in the world, Haus Hiltl in Zurich has a history dating back to 1898. With a buffet offering more than 40 varieties of salads, an Indian buffet and fresh food juices, Hiltl is today a popular dining venue that is all about healthy indulgence.

12. World's Best Tennis Player

Apart from incredible natural assets, impressive engineering feats and talented chefs, Switzerland is also home to the world's best tennis player, Roger Federer, who was born Basel. The nation's art and architecture capital, Basel is located on the River Rhine and borders France and Germany.

See for for more information on travel in Switzerland.

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