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Friday, July 31, 2009

Stay and Play in Paradise



Get right away from winter fogs and frosts with a tropical holiday at one of Australia’s top resort golf courses.

Paradise Palms Resort and Country Club has released its three day, Stay ‘N’ Play package inviting guests to experience a tailor-made range of golf and pampering while luxuriating in the regal confines of its world-class, resort and country club.

The Stay –N- Play package is value packed, priced from $AUD360 per person and includes:
• Three nights accommodation in its brand new luxurious resort (choice of resort room or fully self contained one bedroom apartment
• Breakfast daily
• Two rounds of golf (18 holes) OR two, one hour massages OR one round of golf and one massage

Guests can take full advantage of the resort and country club facilities that include accommodation in the brand new, 96 room resort, dining in Fifty Nine Restaurant and Bar, a round or two of golf on one of Australia’s top championship courses, massage and spa services and even, a more light-hearted swing at the newly completed mini-golf.

Set on 126 ha of undulating surroundings surrounded by rainforest covered hills and just minutes to the Coral Sea, Paradise Palms provides an idyllic picture-perfect playground for holiday makers. Add to this, its convenient location just 20 minutes drive north of Cairns airport just five minutes from Palm Cove and half an hour from Port Douglas.

Paradise Palms Resort and Country Club is a member of Vision Hotels and Resorts.
For bookings and/or reservations and information:
Email: reservations@visionhotelsandresorts.com
Phone: (07) 4059 9999

Humpback Heaven



It’s humpback heaven in Hervey Bay with the arrival of the whales to their favourite Australian holiday destination and the official opening of the local whale watch season on August 1.

The “Blessing of the Fleet” of whale watch boats at the Harbour on Saturday evening also signals the start of the week long Hervey Bay Whale Festival.

With the arrival of the whales come some great accommodation and whale watch packages for visitors in the coming months, including opening specials for the new Ramada Hervey Bay opening late August.

The Break at the Bay package starts at $AUD450 per person and include three nights accommodation in a luxurious studio room, a full-day whale watch tour aboard the Blue Dolphin catamaran and a full-day trip to Fraser Island. For full package details visit http://www.ramadaherveybay.com.au/break/

Breakfree Great Sandy Straits Marina Resort’s Total Experience Package starts from $AUD196 per night in a Studio Room and includes an half-day whale watching cruise for two people with Spirit of Hervey Bay. (On sale until October 31, 2009.)

Total Experience Package
From $AUD196** per night in a Studio Room.
Includes whale watching cruise for two people with Spirit of Hervey Bay.
Conditions apply, subject to availability. Block-out dates and minimum night stays apply. Not valid for conference or group business. Valid for new bookings only. *Valid for sale until 31/10/09, valid for travel from 01/07/09 until 31/10/09. **Valid for sale until 31/10/09, valid for travel from 01/08/09 until 31/10/09. Whale watching is a half day tour for two adults with Spirit of Hervey Bay. For full terms and conditions visit breakfree.com.au

It’s more than a fluke when the first pods of migrating humpback whales start passing the Queensland coast. For the professional whale watching fleet at Hervey Bay it’s time to get the boats primed for another busy season as the whale watching capital of Australia.

Whale season in Hervey Bay officially starts on August 1 with the blessing of the Whale Watching Fleet and is followed on August 8 with the Hervey Bay Whale Festival.

The range of whale watching tours includes dawn trips for the early risers, morning and afternoon half-days journeys and full day cruises for the real enthusiasts. The choice of vessels includes a large rigid inflatable and sailing and motor-powered catamarans.

Operators in the 2009 fleet include newcomer Freedom Whale Watching offering cruises on Freedom III, a 58’ catamaran previously owned by renowned documentary-maker Ben Cropp; Hervey Bay Whale Watch “Quick Cat II”, Mikat Whale Cruises, Awesome Adventures “That’s Awesome”, Blue Dolphin Marine Tours, Shayla Sailing Cruises, Spirit of Hervey Bay Whale Watching Cruises, Tasman Venture Whale Watching and Whalesong Cruises Hervey Bay.

Accommodation options are also extensive and this year will include the new Ramada Resort Hervey Bay which is scheduled to open for the start of whale watching season and has special packages for two adults including two nights accommodation and a whale watching tour from $AUD170 per person. Details of the tours and other accommodation packages can be found at: www.whalesherveybay.com.au.

Each year pods of the humpbacks make the 5000km migration from the Antarctic to the warm waters off the Queensland coast. The calm, protected waters of Hervey Bay are a favourite resting spot for the whales, and also for nature-lovers who can safely watch these lovely creatures as they frolick, mate and bond with their new babies in the warm waters.

The humpbacks can weigh up to 40 tonnes and reach 19 metres in length. They are also one of the more active of the species and love to show off with a range of activities ranging from a ‘blow’ to tail slapping, pectoral fin waving and breaching.

Hervey Bay is a three and a half hour drive north from Brisbane and QR offer regular services to Maryborough West with connections to Hervey Bay. Qantaslink flies direct to Hervey Bay from Brisbane; Virgin Blue flies direct from Sydney to Fraser Coast (Hervey Bay) Airport and convenient connections are available from Melbourne, Adelaide and Hobart. For information about Hervey Bay visit www.frasercoastholidays.info

Thursday, July 30, 2009

NEWS LTD: AUSTRALIANS PREFER THE WEB TO TRAVEL AGENTS


A national survey of 12,000 people has revealed that more than 73% of Australians prefer to book their domestic flights online while only 16% prefer to use travel agents.

However, when it comes to overseas trips, only 35% of Australians book their flights online with 44% using travel agents.

The survey was conducted by News Limited as part of the relaunch of its expanded new national travel section, Escape. Run through the escape.com.au website, the survey reveals some interesting facts about Australians and their passion for travel.

In addition, the internet is also becoming a valuable tool for travel research, as increasingly, travellers use the net to investigate where they want to go. 80% of respondents said they used the internet when deciding where to go, 68% used a newspaper travel section, 67% used friends and family, 58% used brochures and 56% used television programs.

The three main reasons for using a travel agent included the superior knowledge of travel agents, helpful staff and having a single point of contact.

The relaunched Escape section will appear weekly in News Limited metropolitan newspapers from this Sunday and online at escape.com.au, where there will be regularly updated blogs and travel news.

Escape is about inspiring readers and helping to make travel dreams a reality. It is about understanding reader wants and needs – and then delivering them the information they need to make the journey as easy, and memorable, as possible.

The section will be edited by Brian Crisp, the Travel Editor of The Courier-Mail. During his career in journalism, Brian has held senior news positions in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth, where he was editor of The Sunday Times. He has been the Travel Editor at The Courier-Mail for five years. Brian sees part of his job as road testing holidays for his readers – making sure they get the best value for money.

Brian will head up a team of writers and travel experts across Australia, addressing more than just destination-based travel.  Regular sections will include favourite travel spots from international celebrities, plus contributions from well-known writers and journalists.

The new section will explore travel trends and be deals oriented. Escape's relaunch includes an expansion of the brand to a cross-platform model with a significant online component. The printed section will run in The Sunday Telegraph (NSW), Sunday Herald Sun (VIC), The Sunday Mail (QLD), the Sunday Mail (SA), The Sunday Times (WA), and The Sunday Tasmanian (TAS) and additional content will be online at escape.com.au.

Alan Oakley, Editor, National Features for News Ltd, said that Escape's research showed Australians were looking for value-based information as well as aspirational travel writing.

"Our focus will be on enticing readers with excellent travel journalism and then telling people how they can experience each destination in the most cost-effective way. There's is a real appetite for holiday deals, and we'll ensure that Escape is the number one destination for value travel from day one," said Mr Oakley.

Sunday's first issue of Escape will be looking at Great Drives around Australia and readers will have the opportunity to win one of 13 Family Holiday Travel Packages from Accor Vacation Club and Virgin Blue.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Experience the Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix from on board Orion

Orion Expedition Cruises, in association with Events Worldwide, is showcasing the Singapore Formula 1 Singtel Grand Prix with options of 3 or 4 night packages that include Grand Prix tickets.

Stay in Singapore harbour on board the luxuriously appointed Orion, enjoy the adrenalin packed experience of the world’s only night time Grand Prix and see Australia’s Mark Webber in action in his Red Bull F1 car as he chases another podium position and championship points.

Reserve your accommodation on Orion including Singapore F1 ticket packages: 25 – 27 September 2009. Twin share from A$2149 per person on sale now. Staterooms and suites available for individuals, corporate hospitality or other group bookings.

Call Events Worldwide on 1300 788 666 or email sports@events.com.au for complete details and options.

Additional information: At time of release, following the Hungarian Grand Prix (26 July 2009), Mark Webber is currently placed second in the Formula 1 Driver’s Championship for 2009.

Ranked #2 expedition cruise ship in the world in the current Berlitz Cruise Guide, Orion is the world's latest purpose-built luxury expedition cruise ship, featuring an unmatched range of onboard facilities.

With 75 crew and a maximum of just 106 passengers Orion offers the highest staff to guest ratio and guest to public space ratio of any ship based in Australian waters.

Information on all Orion Expedition Cruises to Antarctica, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, Asia, New Zealand, the Kimberley and Arnhem Land can be obtained by visiting the website www.orionexpeditions.com

For reservations or to obtain a brochure call Orion Expedition Cruises: 61-2 9033 8777 (Sydney callers) 1300 361 012 (regional and interstate) or your travel agent. Email: info@orioncruises.com.au

Pirates Strike Amazon River Cruiser


When New Zealand's revered Sir Peter Blake was killed by pirates in 2001 on the Amazon River, it was thought to be a one-off experience, but yachts thinking of venturing up the Amazon River should be aware that a tourist vessel has been raided by pirates and the passengers robbed this week on the Amazon River.

Aqua Expeditions, river boat expedition operators, who run luxury tours on the Amazon, have announced that the MV Aqua (pictured below right), its Amazon river cruise ship, was boarded this week by six armed bandits who robbed passengers of money and valuables.

There were 24 passengers and 21 crew members onboard at the time of the incident. The incident lasted less than an hour and nobody was hurt.

Aqua Expeditions is a Peruvian company, and the Peru Minister of Tourism Martin Perez has since said the government has launched an investigation into the incident. 'My first priority is to ensure that safety measures are immediately set in place to ensure this cannot ever happen again,' Perez said in a statement.

The remoteness of the Amazon means that other attacks may have been under-reported, if they were on local vessels.

Other reports have indicated that there are armed pirates operating on the river, who are better equipped than the police and sometimes pose as police to dupe their victims.


The Sir Peter Blake Incident:

Sir Peter Blake was a New Zealander who won the America's Cup in 1995 and 2000. He was killed in December, 2001 by pirates during a holdup aboard 'Seamaster,' his 36-metre yacht, which was anchored off the town of Macapa on the Amazon River.

Sir Peter, who shot first, died at the scene from a gunshot wound by one of a group of pirates who had boarded their yacht as they were enjoying a sundowner in the cockpit.

Federal Police in Macapa later arrested seven men after police launched a manhunt.

Source: sail-world.com / BW Media

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

CRUISE WEST OFFERS TEMPTING 2009/2010 HOLIDAY VOYAGES

CRUISE WEST OFFERS TEMPTING 2009/2010 HOLIDAY VOYAGES

~Mexico, Panama & Costa Rica, Vietnam and Australia~


Cruise West (www.cruisewest.com), one of the world's leading providers of small-ship explorations will offer four holiday itineraries in 2009 and 2010. Sailing into the firecracker lavish spectacle of Sydney's Harbor on New Year's Eve; bidding farewell to 2009 in the wilds of Costa Rica; savoring a traditional Nochebuena Christmas Eve feast in Mexico's Sea of Cortes; or satisfying all the senses in Vietnam on Thanksgiving.

Exotic, culturally fascinating and stunning scenery describes the 11-night Vietnam voyage that commences in Hanoi aboard the all-suite Spirit of Oceanus (pic above) on November 21, 2009, and ends in Ho Chi Minh City. Spend the Thanksgiving holiday discovering Hue, the Imperial City on the Perfume River including the Forbidden Purple City and the Imperial Citadel, followed by a traditional thanksgiving feast prepared by the onboard chef. The itinerary will give travelers the chance to explore Vietnam's architecture, art, and ancient shrines in Hoi An; bustling Hanoi; the Gulf of Tonkin; the temples and picturesque fishing boats of Nha Trang; the Cham Museum and a special private performance of traditional martial arts in Qui Nhon; and UNESCO World Heritage Site Ha Long Bay. Prices start at $5,649 on this last chance to explore Vietnam aboard the Oceanus before it departs on the Voyages of the Great Explorers in March 2010.

Sun, sea, sand, wildlife and rich Latin culture are featured on the December 18, 2009 Holiday, and December 27, 2009 New Year's Eve cruises of the nine-night Between Two Seas itinerary traveling between Panama City and San Jose, Costa Rica. Festivities include a special Costa Rican and Panamanian dinner featuring delicious traditional cuisine; and a New Year's Captain's Dinner, followed by "Carnival," a lively evening of music and drinks. The warmth of the people of the Emberá Village is highlighted on December 25 when the guests will deliver gifts to the local children; and on December 31 when they board the ship to perform a special dance presentation. The 100-guest Pacific Explorer offers a casual environment and robust Naturalist program. Additional highlights include Portobelo; traversing the entire Panama Canal; UNESCO World Heritage Site Coiba National Park; Golfo Dulce; Caletas Beach; and Manuel Antonio National Park, known for its prolific wildlife and bird viewing. Prices start at $4,399 ($4199 when you book and pay in full by September 11, 2009).

Serenity-seekers will enjoy the seven-night Sea of Cortés Whales & Wildlife cruise, round trip Cabo San Lucas, on board the 102-guest Spirit of Endeavour. The December 19, 2009, Feliz Navidad Holiday sailing will offer a traditional Nochebuena Christmas Eve feast as well as Mexican holiday activities on a lovely remote beach. Or celebrate Feliz Año Nuevo on the December 26, 2009 departure complete with a midnight toast and late night buffet. Port calls include the picturesque seaside village and mission town Loreto; La Paz; and Isla Espiritú Santo, home to several plant and animal species only found on this island. Active guests will enjoy kayaking, snorkeling and nature walks at the serene islands Los Islotes and Isla Partida. Add on a spectacular four-night Copper Canyon post-cruise land tour. Prices start at $2,599 ($2399 when you book and pay in full by September 11, 2009).

Planning ahead, the 17-night Discovering the Maori Coast, traveling from Auckland to Sydney, departing December 15, 2010 – the 24th itinerary of the Voyages of the Great Explorers epic world cruise – offers noteworthy extravaganzas for both Christmas and New Years' Eve. Spend Christmas day in the undisturbed wilderness of Stewart Island, the most southern island of New Zealand, discovering penguins and other marvelous creatures including wekas, kākās, albatross, tokoekas and silvereyes. A dinner feast welcomes guests back onboard the 120-guest Spirit of Oceanus. The ship makes a grand entry into Sydney Harbor on News Year's Eve in time to enjoy the annual celebratory fireworks display. Prices start at $14,395. Save up to 20 percent by booking and paying in full by October 15, 2009.

To book a cruise or for more information about these voyages visit www.cruisewest.com, call 1- 800-296-8307 or a travel professional. All prices are person, based on double occupancy.


~Up-Close, Casual and Personal Cruising ~

Cruise West believes that small is beautiful. Small-ship exploration cruising allows up-close and personal experiences unmatched by the traditional larger cruise lines. For more than 63 years Cruise West has provided authentic travel experiences where the destination is the focus. Nine small ships with guest capacities ranging from 78-138 explore remote and distinctive destinations throughout the globe. A robust onboard enrichment program further enhances the guest experience through topical guest lecturers, additional exploration by Zodiac and included excursions at every port. Cruise West is the recipient of Porthole Magazine 2008 Readers Choice Award for Best Expedition Cruise Line.

Quark Offers Free Air and Iguazu Falls Tour


Book an Antarctic Expedition and Fly Free to Ushuaia

For a limited time, when you book Classic Antarctica aboard Clipper Adventurer on either the January 24, 2010 or February 11, 2010 departure, you fly to Ushuaia for free.

AND

You will receive a bonus tour of Argentina's natural wonder - Iguazu Falls, at no additional cost.

To book call 1.866.961.2961 or +1.203.883.2888

and ask for the Free Air and Iguazu Falls Offer.

Please note: This offer is available for new bookings only; is non-tranferable and cannot be applied to tour dates other than those mentioned. Free air transportation is from your nearest international gateway. You must book your expedition by September 15, 2009. The expedition, free air transportation and tour of Iguazu Falls are subject to availability.

QUARK EXPEDITIONS

47 Water Street, Norwalk, CT, USA, 06854
1.866.961.2961 or 1.203.883.2888

Monday, July 27, 2009

Amanresorts Debuts 105-Foot Cruiser Amanikan


Custom-Built Phinisi Sailing Vessel Brings Rustic Elegance to the High Seas

Amanresorts has announced the debut of Amanikan, a custom-built 105-foot coastal cruiser that fuses the romance of spice trading vessels with luxurious modern amenities. Based out of Amanwana, a luxury tented hideaway on Moyo Island in Indonesia, Amanikan hosts the 2009 Komodo Expedition, a seven-night adventure through the pristine wilderness and waters of Indonesia's Komodo National Park.

Amanikan, built in the style of traditional Indonesian vessels of wood known as Phinisi, features three above-deck cabins, a foredeck with an outdoor dining and bar area, as well as extensive dive facilities. A large master cabin with king-sized bed sits at the stern of the upper deck and offers sweeping 270 degree views from wraparound windows and a private sun deck. The second spacious double cabin on the main deck features a queen bed and spectacular views from both inside the cabin and a private balcony with built-in daybed. Both air-conditioned cabins feature oversized en-suite bathrooms with double vanities, double wardrobes, showers and separate toilets. A third smaller cabin on the main deck has a semi-private sun deck in front of the wheelhouse and offers a queen-sized bed that can be converted to two single beds. Amanikan's principal lounge is built into the bow and serves as the main gathering spot for sunbathing, drinks, or even a night sleeping under the stars.

The Komodo Expedition highlights a five-night excursion on Amanikan capped by a two-night stay at Amanwana where guests enjoy wall dives from the beach and treks to jungle waterfalls, as well as spa treatments and a range of water- and nature-based activities. During the cruise, guests encounter antediluvian creatures unchanged since prehistoric times on a visit to the only two islands in the world where the infamous Komodo dragon can still be found. The journey cruises through the Nusa Tenggara island chain to some of the world's most biologically diverse and acclaimed snorkel and dive sites.

The Komodo National Park is a World Heritage Site where park rangers escort guests to view Komodo dragons in their natural habitat. Other wildlife on Rinca and Komodo Islands includes buffalo, deer, monkeys and wild horses. From the colorful reefs of Tatawa Island to the seductive setting and colors of Komodo's Pink Beach, Amanikan's island-hopping itinerary takes guests to some of the world's most pristine marine environments.

Rates for the Komodo Expedition start at $22,300 for two in a double cabin/tent and include full crew, all meals and non-alcoholic beverages, two dives per person per day on Amanikan, one dive per person per day at Amanwana and ranger's fees at Komodo National Park.

About Amanwana and Amanresorts

Amanwana is a haven for hikers, divers and naturalists. The resort features 20 air-conditioned hardwood floor tents set in a cove on the western edge of Moyo Island. Nine miles northeast of Sumbawa at the western end of Indonesia's secluded Nusa Tenggara Islands, Moyo's 89 acres are home to a variety of bird and animal life, including deer, wild boar, macaque monkeys, wild ox, sea eagles and osprey. The property is surrounded by tropical rainforest and overlooks Amanwana Bay and the Flores Sea. Facilities include an open-air Dining Room, Bar, Library, Gift Shop and Jungle Cove Massage area.

Amanwana is one of the 23 Amanresorts founded by Adrian Zecha who envisioned a collection of intimate retreats in beautiful surroundings with the unassuming, warm hospitality of a gracious private residence. Amanpuri in Phuket, Thailand introduced the concept, and since its launch two decades ago, Amanresorts has opened unparalleled resorts in Bhutan, Cambodia, China, France, French Polynesia, Indonesia, India, Laos, Montenegro, Morocco, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, the Turks & Caicos Islands and the USA.

TUI Travel Buys Zegrahm Expeditions

source: Travel Pulse

TUI Travel PLC has acquired adventure cruise and tour company Zegrahm Expeditions and its sister company, Eco-Expeditions, an adventure travel company specializing in small-ship cruises, tours, and safaris to remote areas. No transaction price was announced. TUI Travel, based in Europe, is a company including leading international travel companies operating as independent brands. Some of these specialty brands include Travcoa, The Moorings, TCS Expeditions and Country Walkers. Zegrahm will continue escorted small ship adventures as it has for 20 years. The company’s founders and directors will stay fully engaged in the day-to-day direction and operation of the company. Zegrahm and Eco Expeditions will remain headquartered in Seattle.

Led by expert guides and lecturers, Zegrahm itineraries are crafted and all-inclusive, feature deluxe accommodations, and operate in all seven continents. TUI Travel PLC is a leading international leisure travel group which operates in approximately 180 countries worldwide and serves more than 30 million customers in over 25 source markets. For more information, visit www.tuitravelplc.com or www.zeco.com. Pictured: Clipper Adventurer

A Legendary Yacht Arrives In The Galapagos


On the 50th Anniversary of the Galapagos National Park & Darwin’s Bicentennial

Yacht’s History Includes WW II Action, Onassis Ownership & Grace Kelly’s Honeymoon

JULY, 2009 (QUITO, ECUADOR) Quasar Expeditions today announced that the official launch of its much anticipated vintage luxury yacht, M/Y Grace, will takes place this month, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Galapagos National Park. Not since HMS Beagle sailed into the Galapagos Islands carrying young Charles Darwin in 1835 has a vessel of such historic significance entered the archipelago. Like the Beagle, M/Y Grace was built in Britain, and served in the Royal Navy. But you won’t find hardtack being served aboard Grace. The yacht is selling well despite hard economic times, indicating continued demand for high end value in 16 passenger yachts in the Galapagos National Park, which limits daily visitors by vessel to fewer than 2,000.

The Grace was originally commissioned one year before the Wall Street Crash of 1929, during the Great Gatsby era, and built by Camper & Nicholson in Southampton, England. Monica, as she was originally named, features a stellar past. After serving as the personal yacht of high powered industrialists, including Sir George Tilley, chairman of the Prudential Insurance Co., she was conscripted into the British Navy during WWII. Commissioned as Rion, she took part in Dunkirk, captured a German torpedo E-boat and had an unconfirmed sinking of a U-boat to her credit. Winston Churchill is purported to have cruised the Mediterranean aboard her after the war. In 1951 she was acquired by a company owned by Aristotle Onassis, who renamed her Arion. Onassis gave the yacht as a wedding gift to Prince Rainier III of Monaco and his bride, Hollywood film legend Grace Kelly, who rechristened her Deo Juvante II in time to honeymoon aboard her. Quasar has renamed the yacht Grace to recapture this magical time when she delivered the royal couple to Monaco and took them on their honeymoon, which is documented in a newsreel available on Youtube™.

When Quasar pioneered its small group cruises 23 years ago, the typical visitor simply wanted to have an up-close, in-depth and personal experience of the unique, exotic and friendly Galapagos creatures in their natural habitat. Thankfully that has not changed but the importance of choosing the right yacht to compliment the cruise has, as travelers have sought a better boat with more amenities. While other yachts like Quasar’s Alta and Evolution have made a name for themselves in the Galapagos, Grace is the first vessel to arrive with such impressive credentials. Grace raises the bar higher with its notoriety, spaciousness and service levels. The company plans to promote the yacht through its wholesalers, and direct to the public at www.quasarexpeditions.com and via a new URL www.gracegalapagos.com.

The official launch of the yacht in the Galapagos this month coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Galapagos National Park. 2009 also marks the bicentennial of Charles Darwin, whose field work in the islands led to his writing of On the Origin of Species and his theory of evolution.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

FROM ROGUES TO RAJAHS, THE LIFE OF SEAN

david ellis

TALKING to Sean Whalley makes you feel like you've somehow stepped into the pages of Boys Own Annual.

If he's not got you gripped with yarns of arresting rogue fishermen in gale-lashed waters off the Falkland Islands, or helping in rescues of distressed yachtsmen in equally foul Atlantic conditions, he's recounting rubbing shoulders with the likes of John Mills, Michael Caine or Rod Stewart in more salubrious surrounds aboard QE2 in the sunny Mediterranean or the balmy Azores.

Or his latest stint: taking the first cruise ship in a near seven-decades into the jungled heartland of Borneo where the few tourists who go there out of curiosity, find that they themselves are the curiosity – for the locals.

And he'll tell you about drinking home-made rice-wine with the chief of a traditional long-house from whose ceiling hangs a basket of human skulls... trophies of the chief's father's father, and his father before that, who chose poison-tipped darts from blowpipes as their weapons of choice.

And of the English Brooke family, the White Rajahs of Borneo for a hundred years from 1841 – and their still-standing riverside forts from which they put down tribal skirmishes and rounded-up headhunters and pirates as they ruled an area of 100,000 square kilometres, before finally handing-over the place to Britain in 1946.

It's a long way from the little English market-town of Crediton where this adventurer's dad was the local dentist, and whose love of yachting was inherited in formative years by the young Sean.

Determined to make his way to the top in a career at sea, Sean Whalley took- on any job from the rough-and-tumble of off-shore oil-rig support vessels, to officer rank aboard freighters, Chief Officer on the boutique cruiser Sea Goddess I (now the world's highest-rated SeaDream I,) and eventually Chief Officer aboard QE2.

And It was during fifty-odd crossings of the Atlantic aboard QE2 and countless voyages to fairy-tale destinations that Sean shared cocktails with John Mills, Gene Hackman, Michael Caine, Rod Steward, Barbara Windsor (the busty blonde bimbo in Britain's Carry On movies,) and Scottish footballer Kenny Dalgleish.

But itching for something more adventurous, a few years back he took on the challenging job of master of the Falkland Islands' 800 tonne Fisheries Patrol Boat that protects its 200-mile (322km) Fisheries Conservation Zone from poachers.

With a crew of fifteen and two Fisheries Inspectors, Captain Whalley spends days at sea intercepting foreign fishing boats – mostly Korean and Spanish –  fishing the Zone for hake (a popular large commercial white-fleshed fish) and squid for processing into calamari.

Despite gales that could spring up every few days, his crew take to the foaming seas in rigid inflatables from their patrol boat to board these foreign fishers to check their papers – arresting those ships whose owners have not paid their licence fees and escorting them back to Port Stanley where they're  impounded until hefty fines were paid.

And many a time he's been brought-in to help in rescues of yachtsmen from their floundering vessels, and on two occasions the crews of cargo ships that had caught fire at sea.

When his patrol boat was put in for a 5-months refit earlier this year, the itchy-footed Sean wasn't one to just sit around, and snapped-up an offer to skipper the first cruise vessel since 1942 to ply the Rajang River from Sibu in Sarawak into the heartland of Borneo.

Owned by Pandaw River Cruises, the 30-cabin Orient Pandaw is an exact replica – augmented with today's luxury mod-cons – of the historic riverboats of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company that had 650 ships on the rivers of South East Asia from 1865 to 1942; it burned them all to the waterline to stop the Japanese using them to move troops and supplies after Japan invaded the region in 1942.

The Orient Pandaw travels 250km up the rainforest-clad Rajang River, in 9-days visiting small towns and frontier outposts yet to come out of the 20th century; there are jungle treks, views of the wildest rapids in the country, visits to a longhouse and local schools, a Brooke Raj fort, tropical fruit plantations and more.

For more information about Orient Pandaw's Borneo adventure cruises and Malaysia Airlines services from Australia to Borneo, see travel agents; also check-out www.pandaw.com

                                               ………………………

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

[] CAPTAIN Sean Whalley aboard Orient Pandaw in Borneo – cruising to adventure

[] CLOSE landing: first cruise ship into the heart of Borneo in seven decades: Orient Pandaw puts guests right into shore excursion action

[] HOME of one-time headhunters, a traditional longhouse deep in the jungles of Borneo now welcomes tourists from Orient Pandaw

  - Photos: David Ellis

Aurora Expeditions Launches New Kimberley Coast Program for 2010


Aurora Expeditions offers travellers the chance to experience Australia's hidden Kimberley Coast with their unrivaled team of experts in 2010.

The three voyages, led by legendary Kimberley expeditioner Mike Cusack of Australian Geographic's first 'wilderness couple' fame, will explore the hidden bays, estuaries and spectacular sandstone gorges of this pristine wilderness. Mike offers a special insight into one of Australia's least visited areas, where his intimate knowledge reveals the secrets of this ancient and forgotten land.

Joining the expedition staff for the 2010 season will be Rosanna Angus, a local Aboriginal guide who has delighted guests with her vibrant personality and abundant knowledge of indigenous history, bush tucker and bush medicine. Rosanna's fresh, insightful approach to interpreting the cultural aspects of the helps to cast a new light on some of the Kimberley's lesser-known treasures.

Aurora will also be joined again by eminent indigenous art historian Garry Darby and the inimitable Chris Done whose years of research as a naturalist bring the wonders of the Kimberley Coast to life.

As with all Aurora cruises, emphasis is placed on a combination of interactive experiences with the environment and a strong educational element. Aurora's onboard team of lecturers and naturalists are Kimberley experts who interpret history, plants and animals from Aboriginal and European perspectives.

Aurora's first two 11-day voyages will travel from Broome to Bigge Island off the Kimberley's north-west coast and back again, and include the Lacede Islands, a prime breeding ground for green turtles and tens of thousands of breeding birds; the tidal pools of Montgomery reef; and the secrets of the Wandjina spirit paintings.

A third 11-day voyage from Broome to Darwin, will explore one end of the Kimberley Coast to the other, crossing Joseph Bonaparte Gulf and visiting the spectacular King George River on the north coast. Passengers will be able to explore the renowned horizontal waterfalls of Montgomery Reef, Prince Regent National Park and the spectacular 90 metre plunge of the King George Falls.

The voyages depart on 31 May 2010; 11 June and 21 June respectively.

Prices start at AU$6,850 per person twin-share, including all meals, Zodiac excursions and lectures by onboard naturalists and experts.

For more details or to obtain a copy of Aurora's new Kimberley Coast 2010 brochure, contact Aurora Expeditions on 1800 637 688; visit www.auroraexpeditions.com.au or email auroraex@auroraexpeditions.com.au

Vanuatu: The Pacific’s Best Kept Secret


Just a short flight from Australia's East coast (3.5 hours from Sydney, 2.5 from Brisbane and 4 from Melbourne) a holiday to Vanuatu has the perfect balance of resort style relaxation and authentic cultural discovery, and with 13 flights a week with Air Vanuatu and Pacific Blue it has never been more accessible.

Vanuatu offers all the South Pacific island splendor expected – coral reefs, waterfalls, crystal clear turquoise ocean and abundant fresh seafood. Add to that fascinating tribal life, one of the world's most accessible active volcanoes, one of the world's best diveable shipwrecks and according the happy planet index in 2006 the world's happiest people – and it is little wonder the country is a favorite among Australian travelers.

In the cosmopolitan capital Port Vila, you can spend time relaxing and pampering yourself at a range of resorts, eating some of the finest food and fresh organic produce in the South Pacific and shopping in the town's local markets or stores.

Although it may be tempting to sit by resort pools sipping cocktails, Port Vila is also about getting out and about, exploring all the islands have to offer and discovering the captivating Melanesian Culture. There are a range of adventures to entertain all tastes from cultural village experiences and sightseeing tours to abseiling down waterfalls, guided off-road buggy hire, horse riding and cycling. Not to mention diving, sailing, fishing, surfing and all other water based pursuits.

Vanuatu is an easy place to travel solo if you're one who likes to explore and discover a country on your own. In Port Vila most accommodation is located around 15 minutes from the town centre and there are local mini buses which will take you anywhere for approximately $1.25. You can also explore on foot, catch taxis or hire a car.

Port Vila is lively at night time too. There are 68 restaurants and a range of night clubs so there are plenty of options for a romantic meal or night out. Kava drinking is also a popular past time for the local Ni-Vanuatu people and a visit to a Nakamal (Kava bar) for a 'shell' of Kava can prove an interesting start to an evening.

However, if it is real, authentic adventure you are after, getting out to one of Vanuatu's outer islands is a must. There are 83 islands in the archipelago and combining at least one of them with your visit to Port Vila can give you a taste of what remote island life is really like.

The most popular outer islands to visit in Vanuatu are Espiritu Santo and Tanna. Both offer exceptional once-in-a-life time experiences and a chance to see a very different side of Vanuatu.

As one of the world's most accessible volcanoes, the fiery Mount Yasur attracts travelers to Tanna. Standing on the rim of this powerful volcano watching lava explode into the air is certainly worth the trip.

However, there is also fascinating culture to discover with interesting cargo cults such as those that await the arrival of mystical John Frum or the return of Prince Phillip. A visit to a custom village where locals have rejected western ways of life and still live traditionally, offers you a peep into the past. As with all these beautiful islands, there are also amazing landscapes with waterfalls, underwater caves, coral reefs and beautiful Port Resolution to explore.

The water surrounding Espiritu Santo has long been a Mecca for divers and snorkelers and enthusiasts travel from all over the world to explore historical relics from the island's days as an American base in WWII. Popular sites include world's most accessible ship wreck, The SS President Coolidge and coral covered American wrecks and war relics at Million Dollar Point.

However, the destination has recently become much more of a holiday paradise. Air Vanuatu has recognised this potential, launching direct flights from Brisbane and Sydney to Santo in 2007. For adventure seekers Espiritu Santo offers a myriad of activities including trekking to Millennium Caves, visiting villages still living in the traditional way and kayaking from one idyllic island to another.

For those who prefer to relax, they can lay back and take in the surrounding white sands and blue water of this island paradise made famous in one of the most popular books in history, Michener's Tales of the South Pacific. Days can be spent picnicing and relaxing on one of the islands magic white sand beaches such as Champagne Beach or by a blue hole where crystal clear blue water is filtered through limestone and coral to create an idyllic inland pool.

A visit Pentecost Island is also becoming a popular side strip. Every Saturday in April to June visitors flock to the island to see the Naghol Land Diving ceremony. This awe-inspiring ceremony sees boys as young as eight and men build towers up to 20 meters high and jump from them as a show of strength and to encourage a good yam harvest. Villagers dance and stomp their feet below making the atmosphere electric as nervous visitors watch and hope that the diver will survive the dive into the ground below.

With 83 islands there are countless adventure options and experiences in Vanuatu. There are regular cultural festivals and events on islands where you can visit villages and see a totally different way of life, happening so close to Australia.

For further information visit www.vanuatu.travel

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sailing Season in the Whitsundays


Australia's aquatic playground is gearing up for its annual 'Sailing Season', where sails and spinnakers dominate the horizon by day, and champagne corks and good times dominate by night.

Nestled in the heart of the spectacular Great Barrier Reef on the Queensland coast is the Whitsundays. Blessed with great, protected stretches of sparkling azure water dotted with 74 tropical islands, sandy beaches, coral gardens and a mainland coastline full of life, the Whitsundays is the quintessential definition of a 'sailor's paradise'.

The Whitsundays offers the best choice for a sailing or cruising holiday for two simple reasons - the islands provide protection from the elements and each of islands offers an array of secluded anchorages from which to experience the true serenity that only a sailing holiday can bring.

With the largest range of fully catered and crewed or sail yourself holiday options in the Southern Hemisphere, there is a holiday experience to meet everyone's sailing ability.

A must do in any novice or expert sailor's book, the Whitsundays is suitable for sailing year round. But if the locals are anything to go by, it seems August through October is the peak time for sailing, as multiple racing events dawn on the Whitsundays.

Volunteer as crew, jump on a spectator boat, or just enjoy the atmosphere as Meridien Marina's Airlie Beach Race Week kicks off the racing (13th – 20th August 2009), closely followed by the region's premier event, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week (21st – 29th August 2009) showcasing some of Australia's finest racing yachts.

Airlie Beach again takes over as host to the Multihull Solutions Multihull Rendezvous (29th August – 4th September) and then the celebrations culminate with the Great Whitsunday Fun Race (12th September) also held off Airlie Beach.

The Whitsundays sailing and racing showcase is a must for any would-be or experienced sailor or party animal with a range of options for joining racing crews, spectating on water or land, or just attending the social events, The racing also coincides with whale season, so the spectating could really get exciting!

Humpback Whales making their annual migration up the Queensland Coast stop off in the Whitsundays to give birth to their calves between May to September. Those out on the water, the islands, or even just sitting in a café by the beach are regularly indulged by excited young calves and their mothers breaching out of the water, playing around boats and with each other, and majestically gliding through the waters of the Whitsundays.

Each of the sailing regattas have varied, rich histories, so the days are sure to be full of entertainment, competition and fun in the Whitsundays throughout Sailing Season.

For more information on sailing holidays to the Whitsundays, go to www.tourismwhitsundays.com.au For more information on the various sailing regattas, go to:

Meridien Marina's Airlie Beach Race Week – www.airliebeachraceweek.com.au Audi Hamilton Island Race Week – www.hamiltonislandraceweek.com.au Multihull Solutions Multihull Rendezvous – www.apyc.yachting.org.au Great Whitsunday Fun Race – www.whitsundaysailingclub.com.au/content/fun-race


The Whitsundays region consists of 74 islands located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef and the Queensland mainland from Bowen in the north, to Laguna Quays in the south, and inland to Proserpine.

By air the region is 1.5hrs from Cairns or Brisbane and 2 hours from Sydney. Visitors can enjoy a diverse range of activities including water sports, bushwalking and golf.

A range of accommodation from budget backpacker, to B&Bs, through to luxury resorts exists for visitors to the destination, as well as the largest range of fully catered and crewed or sail yourself holiday options in the Southern Hemisphere.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

One giant leap - on the ice

by John Honeywell, Captain Greybeard

source: mirror.co.uk

explorer.jpg
Not many people can claim they flew to the Moon with Neil Armstrong. Just two, in fact - Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. And only one of those got dust on his boots.

But intrepid cruise passengers now have the opportunity to sail to Antarctica with Armstrong on board Lindblad Expeditions' vessel, the National Geographic Explorer

The three-week voyage leaves Santiago, Chile, and after five days on the White Continent, also calls at South Georgia and Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands before returning to Ushuaia in Argentina.

The journey, which was announced as Armstrong celebrated the 40th anniversary of his moon landing, will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Atlantic Treaty. Cruise-only fares are from $18,450 for a porthole cabin to $34,270 for a balcony suite.

Lindblad says passengers who sign up for the trip will have the unusual opportunity of spending time with Armstrong as they are "following in the footsteps of heroic Antarctic explorers and reflecting on the future of exploration."

They will also be on hand to record his first words as he sets foot on the Antarctic ice for the first time - something about "one giant leap for a penguin," perhaps.

The Explorer, an ice-strengthened expedition ship, carries 148 passengers in 81 outside cabins, and is equipped with a fleet of Zodiac landing craft and a flotilla of kayaks.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My Island Home



Most privately owned islands around Australia, where yachties can call in or stay overnight, are found in Queensland. Others are scattered along our massive coastline. However, the sunshine state is not the only place to drop your anchor and OCEAN traced a selection of different islands with marinas, moorings or anchorage facilities that offer a remarkable maritime experience.

By Pamela Wright

It goes without saying that soaking up the incredible islands in the calm, aqua waters of Queensland’s Whitsundays is every yachtie's dream. Excellent marinas, endless shelter and snug overnight anchorages in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park help lure over 30,000 sailing holidaymakers each year and the numbers will increase as the infrastructure continues to improve. Even when Captain Cook coursed these waters in 1770, he noted it was a continuous safe harbour making it simply unforgettable for sailors. Most of the 74 islands in the Whitsundays are uninhabited but eight of them, all within close range of each other, have major resorts. As well as Hayman and Hamilton, there’s South Mole renowned for family holidays, Brampton with its romantic resort, the refurbished Daydream Island and Long Island with magnificent views from walking trails. Australia's only Club Med is at Lindeman and Hook Island has a beautiful deepwater anchorage at Nara Inlet. Understandably, some owners remain discreet about their private island and are reticent to divulge locations, but I discovered enough to whet the sailor’s whistle.

As an alternative to the resort-like nature of many islands, Tasmania provides havens for wildlife, fresh produce, spectacular scenery and landscapes that is such a diverse experience for seamen. Lying northwest in the path of the Roaring Forties, the ever-present westerlies that circle the world's southern latitudes, is King Island with empty beaches, clean air, rocky coasts and reefs, dairy farms, lighthouses and shipwrecks. It’s renowned for award-winning cheeses, succulent beef and fresh seafood with cray fishermen and abalone divers harvesting rich catches from beneath the surface. In 1845, one of Australia's worst maritime disasters occurred here when the Cataraqui grounded but today, Cape Wickham lighthouse, the tallest in the southern hemisphere, guides mariners safely into Bass Strait. King Island is a shell collectors’ paradise, with 144 species identified at Martha Lavinia beach alone and for bird lovers, more than 78 species range from petite penguins to pesky peacocks. At Naracoopa, Baudins Restaurant on the waterfront features local produce and for accommodation, The Flying Squirrel, 100 metres from the beach is quiet and secluded with harbour views, a boat ramp and a jetty complementing the public jetty in the main township of Currie.


Not another soul in sight: kayaking in the wilderness on Flinders Island.

Not another soul in sight: kayaking in the wilderness on Flinders Island. Photo: Melanie Ball

Flinders Island and its 51 surrounding islands are all that remain of the land bridge that once connected Tasmania to the mainland. Dramatic landscapes vary from the pink and grey granite cliffs of Killiecrankie to the gentle farmland that rolls through the northern part of the island. Yachts can shelter, if necessary, near Eddystone Point or Swan Island before tracking across Banks Strait to Cape Barren Island and then Flanders, all part of the Furneaux Group. The wreck of Sydney Cove (1797), miles of white sandy beaches and 7,000-year-old Aboriginal shell middens await the cruising yachtsman, not forgetting the abundance of fish life that can feed a hungry crew at any time. Across the road from Whitemark beach and within cooee to cafes, the golf course and the pub are the fully self-contained Elvstan Cottages that brag spectacular sunsets over outlying islands. Lady Barron Cottage is ideal for a group holiday and is close to the wharf, Vinegar Hill Lookout and Furneaux Tavern. Leafmoor by the Sea near Lady Barron fishing port, sleeps up to six people and the Palana Beach House, also sleeping six has an undercover balcony with amazing views of Blyth Bay and Sister Islands.

Wild seascapes, towering dolerite cliffs, sweeping surf beaches, extensive coastal walks and an historic lighthouse are all features of Bruny Island off the southeast corner of Tasmania. The best walks are along the track to Penguin Island and Fluted Cape, beach walks on Cloudy Bay, where there’s a fine anchorage or the full-day circuit of the Labillardiere Peninsula where you’ll see Bennetts Wallabies, pademelons, echidna and wombats. At dusk, fairy penguins come ashore at The Neck where the Truganini steps lead to the lookout and memorial to the Nuenonne people who inhabited the island before European settlement. Bruny offers a number of places to eat including the local pub, Hothouse, Lunawanna and Penguin Cafes and fresh oyster door sales at Get Shucked. There’s a reasonable selection of onshore accommodation options at Morella Island Retreats, Mickeys Bay Eco Retreat, Wayaree Estate and Wainui Bed & Breakfast. At Adventure Bay, where Captain William Bligh came ashore for water and provisions before heading off for his ill-fated mutiny in the South Pacific, is a public jetty. For exercise, especially suitable for families, try the two hour walk along the flat Grass Point track with its whaling history information trail.

The mild, warmer climate of Maria Island coupled with alluring beaches and clear waters, is highly attractive to sailors and cruisers with safe overnight anchorages in either Chinamans Bay or Riedle Bay near Whalers Cove. However, because the whole island is a national park, only offshore moorings are permitted but you can anchor temporarily at Darlington and explore the historical ruins of a former penal settlement and the limestone fossil cliffs near Cape Boullanger. By 1825 Maria Island was a convict prison and today there’s basic but fascinating accommodation in the old Penitentiary at Darlington with nine rooms, each with six bunk beds, a picnic-style table and chairs and a wood-fired heater. The Township Walk shows buildings and ruins from the early convict periods then ventures through open woodlands into tall eucalyptus forest returning via the old cement works. Along the northern shores of the island, The Fossil Cliffs, where there are extensive views of the famous Freycinet Peninsula, plunge sheer to the sea. As one of the best places to observe Forester kangaroos and Cape Barren geese, Maria Island has no cars, no shops and a $10.00 per day national park entry fee. A few hours sailing north is The Schouten Passage which provides secure overnight anchorages at Bryans Corner or Crocketts Bay and at Hen and Chicken Bay on the southern end of Schouten Island is a beautiful, small and intimate haven sheltering boats from the northerly winds. Provisions of water, distillate, food supplies and marine engineering facilities are all available at Triabunna Bay. Anchorages are typically used for casual, overnight mooring by vessels cruising coastal waters but sailing around Tasmania is made all the easier by the fact that mooring is allowed almost anywhere with the exception of marine reserves with all facilities and locations available through www.mast.tas.gov.au.



As well as a paradise for fishermen, Spilsby Island (pic above) in South Australia has safe and secluded beaches along the north coast which contrast dramatically with the spectacular rocky coast to the west. The waters teem with highly sought after marine cuisine with boating and sailing made more enjoyable by the number of other islands, including the Sir Joseph Banks Group, offering safe anchorages. You can be sure of catching whiting, flathead and garfish when line fishing from the beach or salmon, sweep and snapper if rock fishing. Dive for scallops and abalone or drop a few pots to entrap succulent, local crayfish. An unusual phenomenon occurs just after the first winter rains when enormous rings of large mushrooms spring up over most of the island. So imagine the menu! Mushrooms on toast for breakfast, crayfish salad for lunch and baked snapper for dinner.

Port Lincoln at the southern end of Eyre Peninsula is 250 kilometres from Adelaide as the crow flies and is considered South Australia’s finest harbour. After two and a half hours sailing, you’ll reach Thistle Island, the second largest in South Australia after Kangaroo Island with numerous safe anchorages including Whaler’s Bay, recognised as being one of the best natural anchorages in the state. Covering an area of 4000 hectares with about the same number of sheep, it’s a paradise for fishermen with safe and secluded beaches along the east coast and dramatic cliffs and rocks to the west. Excellent opportunities for swimming, surfing or rock-climbing and the natural, unspoiled bushland, historical ruins and dry limestone caves provide a constant source of irresistible delight and on Thistle, there’s even room to enjoy a sense of personal privacy not usually possible on smaller island properties.

Mention yachting and probably 95 per cent of seafarers head to Queensland. Understandable considering two of the best resort islands in Australia are Hamilton and Hayman, both situated amid the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef. The yacht club and marina on Hamilton suits all forms of boating from runabouts to superyachts and is a popular spot to overnight or extend a holiday. Currently, the facility has 205 berths catering for vessels up to 45 metres and the boatyard offers a 65 tonne travel lift with mechanical, electrical, refrigeration, shipwright, anti-fouling and breakdown services making it a great destination for those who appreciate international boating excellence. Already sporting plenty of accommodation, the addition of the five star qualia resort located on the secluded northern point has revitalised the island. As a huge commitment by owners Bob and Sandy Oatley, it has 60 private one bedroom pavilions, plunge pools, outstanding facilities and uncompromising service.

Hayman Island, owned by Mulpha Australia Limited allows guests to holiday in style amongst priceless artwork, silver service dining and gardens landscaped to perfection. Acknowledged as one of the best private island resorts in the world, it has a tropical haven of beaches and coves fringed by the incredible coral of the reef. Hayman offers marina and accommodation packages with accessibility to the safety of the marina via a deep water channel. For an overnight visit with all guests staying at the resort, a vessel up to 50 feet costs $145, over 50 feet is $185 and additional days are $95. The fee includes marina or mooring access, water tank refill, garbage disposal, use of non-motorised watercraft, fitness and sporting facilities, a beachside golf putting green and driving range, island walking tracks and various guided resort tours.

Few wildlife experiences are as breathtaking as watching whales and, as Australia is a sanctuary for cetaceans (whales and dolphins) they often show a friendly interest in passing vessels. And if you’re sailing on the east coast from as early as July through to November, it’s a whale highway with hundreds of humpbacks and their calves on their major migratory route north. And between May and October, Eyre Peninsula in South Australia and Storm Bay in Tasmania are brilliant places to see southern right whales beyond the surf breaks. You should be so lucky!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Australians still travelling to Bali

Jetstar, Virgin Blue and Garuda airlines have told The Age newspaper that Australian government advice to reconsider travelling to Indonesia, including Bali, was not deterring passengers from visiting the tourist hot-spot.

Australians are being warned by the Federal Government of a high risk of another terrorist attack in Indonesia following the bombings of the JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels in Jakarta that killed nine people, including three Australians.

Jetstar spokesman Simon Westaway said Australians tended to react calmly to international threats and passengers were not cancelling tickets.

"Whether or not it is stopping someone from going in and booking a flight today, it's hard to tell," he said.

He said passengers planning to travel to Jakarta had been offered the chance to defer their travel at no cost this week.

Garuda Melbourne sales manager Ian Murton said the airline had one cancellation yesterday on a Bali flight and the passenger had told him it was due to illness.

"As of now we are monitoring the phones and we've had no negative reaction but some people book through wholesalers and travel agents and we might not be able to tell for another 24 to 48 hours," he said.

A Virgin Blue spokeswoman said the airline had not noticed any impact on its Bali bookings.

Finalists Announced in the 2009 HM Awards


Finalists in the 2009 HM Awards for Hotel & Accommodation Excellence presented by Sealy have been announced, with all thoughts now firmly set on the gala dinner to be held in Sydney on August 14.

A record number of entries were received in 2009 and following hours of voting by over 25 judges, the finalists have been announced for 36 of the 40 categories to be awarded this year.

The four biggest gongs at the HM Awards – Hotel Brand of the Year, Accommodation Chain of the Year, Overall Accommodation Property of the Year and the HM Magazine Hotelier of the Year – have been decided by the region's leading CEOs and the finalists for these categories will be announced at the gala presentation dinner.

HM (Hotel & Accommodation Management) Magazine is proudly hosting the 2009 HM Awards, which are presented by Sealy. Co-hosts of the event include ISIS Hotel Projects and Intrust Super.

Tables for the gala awards night, to be held at Doltone House in Sydney, on Friday 14 August 2009, are SELLING FAST. To reserve your place, contact Ana Azevedo on +61 (0)9660 2113 or email ana@intermedia.com.au

A complete list of finalists can be found below.


*2009 HM AWARDS FINALISTS*

PROPERTY AWARDS - AUSTRALIA

1 Serviced Apartment Property

Angsana Resort & Spa Great Barrier Reef, Palm Cove, QLD
Diamant Hotel Canberra, ACT
Fraser Suites Sydney, NSW
Medina Grand Adelaide Treasury, SA
Medina on Crown, Surry Hills, NSW
Pullman Reef Casino, Cairns, QLD
Quay Grand Suites Sydney, NSW
Shoal Bay Resort & Spa, Port Stephens, NSW
The Lyall Hotel, South Yarra, VIC
The Observatory Resort Port Macquarie, NSW

2 Accomodation Property – 3- to 3.5-Star

Best Western Sanctuary Inn, Tamworth, NSW
Clare Motel, Adelaide, SA
Hotel Ibis Darling Harbour, NSW
Hotel Ibis King Street Wharf, NSW
Hotel Ibis Melbourne, VIC
Hotel Ibis Melbourne Glen Waverley, VIC
Hotel Ibis World Square, NSW
Richmond Henty Motor Inn, Portland, VIC
Thredbo Alpine Hotel, NSW

3 Accommodation Property – 4- to 4.5-Star

Crown Promenade Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Crowne Plaza Canberra, ACT
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, NSW
Crowne Plaza Newcastle, NSW
Novotel Barossa Valley Resort, SA
Q Station Retreat, Manly, NSW
Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne, VIC
The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa, NSW
The Grace Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Vibe Hotel Rushcutters Bay, NSW

4 Accommodation Property – 5-Star

Crown Towers, Melbourne, VIC
Emporium Hotel Brisbane, QLD
Hyatt Hotel Canberra, ACT
InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto, VIC
Palazzo Versace, Gold Coast, QLD
Park Hyatt Sydney, NSW
qualia, QLD
Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney, NSW
The Langham, Melbourne, VIC
The Observatory Hotel, Sydney, NSW

5 Business Hotel

Crown Towers, Melbourne, VIC
Diamant Hotel Canberra, ACT
Hilton Melbourne Airport, VIC
Hilton Sydney, NSW
Pullman Sydney Olympic Park, Homebush, NSW
Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne, VIC
Sheraton on the Park, Sydney, NSW
Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, NSW
Stamford Grand North Ryde, NSW
The Westin Sydney, NSW

6 Resort

Angsana Resort & Spa Great Barrier Reef, Palm Cove, QLD
Hayman, QLD
Hyatt Regency Coolum, QLD
Lilianfiels Blue Mountains Resort and Spa, NSW
Peppers Salt Resort & Spa, Kingscliff, NSW
qualia, QLD
Sea Temple Resort & Spa Palm Cove, QLD
Sheraton Noosa, QLD
The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa, NSW
The Elandra Mission Beach, QLD

7 Hotel Refurbishment

Crown Towers, Melbourne, VIC
Crowne Plaza Terrigal, NSW
Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, NSW
Grand Hyatt Melbourne, VIC
InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto, VIC
Medina on Crown, Surry Hills, NSW
Novotel Barossa Valley Resort, SA
The Sebel and Citigate Albert Park, VIC
The Sebel Surry Hills, NSW
Urban Brisbane, QLD

8 Boutique Hotel

Cape Lodge Margaret River, WA
Diamant Hotel Canberra, ACT
Emporium Hotel, Brisbane, QLD
Lake House, Daylesford, VIC
Lilianfiels Blue Mountains Resort & Spa, NSW
Sir Stamford Circular Quay, NSW
The Islington, Hobart, TAS
The Louise, Marananga, SA
The Lyall Hotel, South Yarra, VIC
Victoria's at Wategos, Byron Bay, NSW

9 Unique Accommodation

Bay of Fires Lodge, Mt William National Park, TAS
Injidup Spa Retreat, WA
Peppers Palm Bay, Whitsundays, QLD
Peppers Seven Spirit Bay, Coburg Peninsula, NT
Q Station Retreat, Manly, NSW
Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island, SA
Thorngrove Manor Hotel, Adelaide, SA
Wilpena Pound Resort, Flinders Rangers, SA

10 New Hotel

Chifley Eastern Creek, NSW
Clarion Hotel Soho, Adelaide, SA
Hilton Melbourne South Wharf, VIC
Hotel Ibis King Street Wharf, NSW
Mantra Tullamarine, VIC
Medina Grand Darwin Waterfront, NT
Pullman Sydney Olympic Park, NSW
Quay West Resort & Spa Falls Creek, VIC
Rydges Brighton, VIC
Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront, NT

11 Alpine Accommodation

Grand Mercure Mt Buller Chalet, VIC
Hotel Pension Grimus, Mt Buller, VIC
Huski, Falls Creek, VIC
Lake Crackenback Resort, NSW
Quay West Resort & Spa, Falls Creek, VIC
The Denman, Thredbo, NSW
Thredbo Alpine Hotel, NSW
Zirky's, Mount Hotham, NSW

12 MICE Hotel

Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, NSW
Emporium Hotel, Brisbane, QLD
Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, NSW
Hilton Sydney, NSW
Lilianfiels Blue Mountains Resort & Spa, NSW
Q Station Retreat, Manly, NSW
Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, NSW
Stamford Plaza Adelaide, SA
The Langham, Melbourne, VIC
The Sebel and Citigate Albert Park, VIC

13 Regional Property

Craigieburn, Bowral, NSW
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, NSW
Crowne Plaza Newcastle, NSW
Kim's Beach Hideaway, Toowoon Bay, NSW
Lilianfiels Blue Mountains Resort & Spa, NSW
Peppers Seven Spirit Bay, Coburg Peninsula, NT
Sofitel Werribee Park Mansion Hotel & Spa, VIC
The Byron at Byron Resort & Spa, NSW
The Louise, Marananga, SA
Victoria's at Wategos, Byron Bay, NSW

14 Hotel Day Spa

Angsana Spa, Angsana Resort & Spa Great Barrier Reef, QLD
Chuan Spa, The Langham, Melbourne, VIC
Daintree Spa, Daintree Eco Lodge, Mossman, QLD
Day Spa at The Observatory, The Observatory Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Injidup Spa, Injidup Spa Retreat, WA
Le Spa, Sofitel Werribee Park Mansion Hotel & Spa, VIC
The Spa at Four Seasons, Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, NSW
Villa Thalgo Day Spa, The Sebel Resort & Spa Hawkesbury Valley, NSW
Spa qualia, qualia, QLD
Endota Spa, Huski, Falls Creek, VIC

15 Hotel Bar

Aria Bar & Lounge, The Langham, Melbourne, VIC
Astral Bar, Star City, Sydney, NSW
Blue Horizon, Shangri-La Hotel Sydney, NSW
ECQ Bar, Quay Grand Suites, Sydney, NSW
Emporium Hotel Bar, Emporium Hotel, Brisbane, QLD
Globe Bar, The Observatory Hotel, Sydney, NSW
harbourbar, Park Hyatt Sydney, NSW
Oceans Bar, Crowne Plaza Coogee Beach, NSW
Room 81, Sofitel Gold Coast, QLD
Zeta Bar, Hilton Sydney, NSW

16 Hotel Restaurant

Altitude, Shangri-La Hotel Sydney, NSW
Astral Restaurant, Star City, Sydney, NSW
Bilson's, Radisson Plaza Hotel Sydney, NSW
Darley's, Lilianfels Blue Mountains Resort & Spa, NSW
Galileo, The Observatory Hotel, Sydney, NSW
glass Brasserie, Hilton Sydney, NSW
Kable's, Four Seasons Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Lake House Restaurant, Lake House, Daylesford, VIC
Sean's Kitchen, Star City, Sydney, NSW
The Brasserie, Hilton Adelaide, SA

17 Hi-Tech Hotel

BLUE Sydney, NSW
Crown Towers, Melbourne, VIC
Emporium Hotel, Brisbane, QLD
Hilton Sydney, NSW
InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto, VIC
Park Hyatt Sydney, NSW
Pullman Sydney Olympic Park, NSW
Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, NSW
The Como Melbourne, VIC
The Westin Sydney, NSW

PROPERTY AWARDS – NEW ZEALAND & SOUTH PACIFIC

18 New Zealand Hotel

Eichardt's Private Hotel, Queenstown
Hilton Auckland
Hyatt Regency Auckland
InterContinental Wellington
SKYCITY Grand Hotel, Auckland
Sofitel Queenstown
Stamford Plaza Auckland
The George, Christchurch
The Langham, Auckland
The Westin Auckland Lighter Quay

19 New Zealand Regional Property

Blanket Bay, Glenorchy
Grasmere Lodge, Christchurch
Huka Lodge, Lake Taupo
Kauri Cliffs, Kerikeri
Millbrook Resort, Queenstown
Peppers Clearwater Resort, Christchurch
Solitaire Lodge, Rotorua
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, Hawkes Bay
Treetops Lodge, Rotorua
Wharekauhau Country Estate, Palliser Bay

20 Fijian Property

Fiji Beach Resort & Spa Managed by Hilton
InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa
Likuliku Lagoon Resort
Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji
Shangri-La's Fijian Resort & Spa
Sheraton Fiji Resort
Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa
Taunovo Bay Resort & Spa
The Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa
Yasawa Island Resort

21 South Pacific Property

Bora Bora Lagoon Resort & Spa, French Polynesia
InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa, French Polynesia
Iririki Island Resort & Spa, Vanuatu
Le Méridien Ile des Pins, New Caledonia
Pacific Resort Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Royale Takitumu Villas, Cook Islands
Sofitel Motu Bora Bora, French Polynesia
The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa, Cook Islands
The Sebel Vanuatu, Vanuatu
The St Regis Bora Bora Resort, French Polynesia
PROPERTY AWARDS – ALL COUNTRIES (AUSTRALIA, NZ & SOUTH PACIFIC)

22 Environmental Program

Crowne Plaza Alice Springs, NT
Crowne Plaza Melbourne, VIC
Hilton Adelaide, SA
Holiday Inn Brisbane, QLD
InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto, VIC
Novotel Barossa Valley Resort, SA
Pacific Resort Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Pullman Sydney Olympic Park, NSW
Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne, VIC
The Langham, Melbourne, VIC

23 Marketing Campaign

Accor Hotels (Australasia)
Constellation Hotels (Australia)
Crowne Plaza Terrigal, NSW
Hilton Sydney, NSW
Mantra Hotels (Australia)
Rydges Hotels (Australasia)
Sofitel Hotels (Australasia)
The Observatory Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Treetops Lodge, Rotorua, New Zealand
Vibe Hotels (Australia)
24 Service to the Community
Brisbane Marriott Hotel, QLD
Crowne Plaza Canberra, ACT
Holiday Inn Esplanade Darwin, NT
Holiday Inn Wellington, New Zealand
Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji
Quest Serviced Apartments (Australia)
Vibe Hotels (Australia)
Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel, NSW

PEOPLE AWARDS

25 Concierge

Andrew Austen, The Menzies Sydney, NSW
David Board, Quay Grand Suites Sydney, NSW
Martin Bray, The Observatory Sydney, NSW
Aaron Ellis, Star City, Sydney, NSW
Glenn Lacey, The Langham, Melbourne, VIC
Iferemi Nuku, Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa, Fiji
James Ridenour, InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto, VIC
Jorge Sousa, Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, NSW
Chris Traill, Park Hyatt Sydney, NSW
Bryan Wilkinson, Sofitel Queenstown, New Zealand

26 Hotel Executive Chef

Glenn Bacon, Hayman, QLD
Simon Bryant, Hilton Adelaide, SA
Martin Horsley, Sofitel Werribee Park Mansion Hotel & Spa, VIC
Mark McNamara, The Louise, Marananga, SA
Carl Middleton, Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, NSW
Shailesh Naidu, Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji
Alessandro Pavoni, Park Hyatt Sydney, NSW
Anthony Ross, The Langham Melbourne, VIC
Andrew Saville, Crowne Plaza Alice Springs, NT
Hugh Whitehouse, Lilianfiels Blue Mountains Resort & Spa, NSW

27 Hotel Bartender

Tim Browne, Novotel Barossa Valley Resort, SA
Lucy George, Emporium Hotel, Brisbane, QLD
Chris Hickson, The Menzies Sydney, NSW
Brigitte McKenna, Quay Grand Suites Sydney, NSW
Katie Montgomery, Crowne Plaza Terrigal, NSW
Tony Mosca, InterContinental Sydney, NSW
Jean Munos, Hilton Sydney, NSW
Stuart Reeves, Park Hyatt Sydney, NSW
Nik Stakes, Eichardt's Private Hotel, Queenstown, New Zealand
Bing Zhang, Brisbane Marriott, QLD

28 Human Resources Department Member

Paul Amos, Novotel Barossa Valley Resort, SA
Michael Bedros, Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, NSW
Kelly Habermann, The Menzies Sydney, NSW
Ursula Henderson, Brisbane Marriott, QLD
Chantal Jackson, Hilton Sydney, NSW
Naveen Lakshmaiya, Tanoa Group of Hotels (Fiji)
Mandy Richardson, Crowne Plaza Alice Springs, NT
Debbie Simister, Accor Hospitality (Australia)
Jayne Webb, Brisbane Marriott, QLD
Kathy York, Crowne Plaza Newcastle, NSW

29 Sales & Marketing Department Member

Kate Atkinson, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts (Australasia)
Laura Bogunia, Hilton Sydney, NSW
Chriscelle Capito, The Observatory Hotel Sydney, NSW
Andrew Gee, Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji
Chris Lane, Constellation Hotels Group (Australia)
Tomoko Sakurai, Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, NSW
Joy Solomano, Sofitel Werribee Park Mansion Hotel & Spa, VIC
Jennifer Tyrrell, Brisbane Marriott, QLD
Julius Ungar, Fraser Suites Sydney, NSW
Michelle Vague, The Langham, Melbourne, VIC

30 PR/Communications Department Member

Jill Collins, Hamilton Island, QLD
Bryony Gammon, Small Luxury Hotels of the World (Asia-Pacific)
Wendy Hill, Radisson Plaza Hotel Sydney, NSW
Emma Kearns, Toga Hospitality (Australasia)
Sally McCann, Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, NSW
Sally Morgan, Hayman, QLD
Gaynor Reid, Accor Hospitality (Asia-Pacific)
Kimberly Salt, Orient-Express Hotels (Australia)
Charlotte Seymour, Hilton Hotels Australasia
Konstanze Werhahn-Mees, Eight Hotels (Australia)

31 Front Office Department Member

Wayne Arthur, Radisson Plaza Hotel Sydney, NSW
Gemini Brown, Crowne Plaza Terrigal, NSW
Jamila El Allam, Langham Melbourne, VIC
Mitch Gawthorn, Holiday Inn Esplanade Darwin, NT
Cameron Griffiths, Park Hyatt Sydney, NSW
Karen Koelewyn, Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, NSW
Rebecca Latemore, The Elandra Mission Beach, QLD
Simon Ruri, Peppers Clearwater Resort, Christchurch, New Zealand
Rob Unson, Sofitel Werribee Park Mansion Hotel & Spa, VIC
Sae Yi Oh, Hilton Sydney, NSW

32 Rooms Division Department Member

Christine Counsel, Brisbane Marriott, QLD
Teneale Guarrera, Holiday Inn Darwin, NT
Michelle Dower, Hotel Ibis Glen Waverly, VIC
Andy Goonesekera, InterContinental Hotel Sydney, NSW
Donna Gribble, Novotel Barossa Valley, SA
Leon Pink, Outrigger on the Lagoon, Fiji
Dianne Logan, Quay Grand Suites Sydney, NSW
Sarah Young, Rydges World Square Sydney, NSW
Grace Esogon, Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel, NSW
Assumpta McDonald, The Westin Auckland Lighter Quay, New Zealand

MAJOR AWARDS

33 South Pacific Hotel Manager

Steve Anstey, Ahura Resorts, Fiji
Shane Cunning, Sheraton and Westin Resorts Fiji
Neil Houghton, InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa
Bernard Isautier, Vahine Island, Tahaa, French Polynesia
Brice Pean, Fiji Beach Resort and Spa Managed by Hilton
Justin Phillips, Radisson Resort Fiji Denarau Island
Arthur Reed, Navini Island Resort, Fiji
Darren Shaw, Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji
Amanda Silk, Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa, Fiji
Greg Stanaway, Pacific Resort Rarotonga, Cook Islands

34 New Zealand Hotel Manager

Peter Gee, Stamford Plaza Auckland
Heather Idoine-Riley, Holiday Inn Wellington
Philip Jenkins, Blanket Bay
Heiko Kaiser, Treetops Lodge. Rotorua
Gregory Keating, Duxton Hotel Wellington
Carey Norton, The Heritage Queenstown
Lee Pearce, Novotel Capital Wellington
Marcus Reinders, The Westin Auckland Lighter Quay
Victoria Shaw, Eichardt's Private Hotel, Queenstown
Jeffrey von Vorsselen, The Langham, Auckland

35 Australian Hotel Manager

Michael Bourne, Hilton Melbourne South Wharf, VIC
David Brown, Crowne Plaza Surfers Paradise, QLD
Marc Cherriers, Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, NSW
Chris Ehmann, Hilton Adelaide, SA
Steve Finlayson, Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne, VIC
Adam Glass, Crowne Plaza Alice Springs, NT
Richard Munro, Star City, Sydney, NSW
Ruwan Peiris, Sydney Marriott Hotel, NSW
Peter Savoff, Emporium Hotel, Brisbane, QLD
Ben Sington, The Langham, Melbourne, VIC

36 Hotel Brand Management Company

Design Hotels
Preferred Hotel Group
Select Hotels & Resorts International
Small Luxury Hotels of the World
The Leading Hotels of the World

37 Hotel Brand

To be revealed at the gala dinner on August 14

38 Accommodation Chain

To be revealed at the gala dinner on August 14

39 Overall Accommodation Property (Hotel of the Year)

To be revealed at the gala dinner on August 14

40 HM Magazine Hotelier of the Year

To be revealed at the gala dinner on August 14

‘2 for the price of 1’ in Greenland



MYPLANET is now offering a ‘two for the price of one’ deal on its Disko Bay Greenland cruises, departing until September 2009 and visiting the amazing fjords of West Greenland.

The nine-day voyage aboard the MS Fram is now priced from $7120 for two people, including all meals, return flights from Copenhagen to Greenland, two optional shore excursions and more.

Highlights of the trip include walking through Inuit towns and visiting UNESCO World Heritage-listed Illulissat. The deal is valid until sold out.

According to MyPlanet managing director Glenyce Johnson, “the cruise gives you a unique experience to see the largest, and one of the most pristine, islands in the world; a land of awe-inspiring fjords, lush green valleys, rugged mountains, massive glaciers and icebergs the size of cathedrals.“

Info at www.myplanetaustralia.com.au.

Tourism in Samoa, Cook Is benefits from Fiji situation

Samoan performers at Aggie Greys Hotel, Apia. Pic: Roderick Eime/travography.com

The leaders of two Pacific nations say tourists are choosing lesser-known islands for their winter breaks to avoid the political instability in Fiji.

Samoa and Cook Islands say their tourist numbers are on the rise because many New Zealanders and Australians no longer want to visit military-led Fiji.

They say the refusal of Commodore Frank Bainimarama's regime to hold elections since a coup in December 2006 has actively discouraged visitors.

Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele says although the global economic crisis has hit his country hard, tourism there appears to be booming.

And Cook Islands Prime Minister Jim Marurai says its tourism is holding strong despite tough economic times, and is likely to have benefited from Fiji's situation.

Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Cruise Weekly Comment: Don’t Cry Me a River

I’m ashamed of myself; I’ve been an adventure cruise snob thinking that an adventure or expedition voyage had to be at least coastal or even oceanic in nature to qualify. I was wrong and now I’m admitting it.

I had this idea that river cruising was some cushy lark for timid softies with delicate tummies and an inhibited sense of adventure. Well, several recent river cruises have helped me dispel those prejudices and I’m finding myself developing a liking for the inland variety.

First it was Cruise West on USA’s Columbia River, then Pandaw on the Rajang of Sarawak and now I’m signed up for the Brahmaputra in India with Active Travel. Yes, I had to look it up.

Oceanic Discoverer on the Sepik
I really should not have been so surprised because two years ago, I was with Coral Princess when they made one of their initial explorations of the Sepik. This river is one of the largest in PNG and twists and turns for over 1100 kilometres into the wild backcountry inland from the northern coast. It was here that I had one of my most other worldly expedition experiences when the women of Tambanum worked themselves into a black magic frenzy, yelping and flailing around like possessed banshees. The men knew their place, meekly banging their drums and chanting back-ups, careful not to get a beat out of place. These girls were way out there!

Although I’ve never been on the Amazon proper, I did venture up one of the lesser known tributaries, the Rio Negro, into eastern Ecuador, on the other side of the Andes. Our jungle hideout, Sacha Lodge, was secreted deep in the tidal floodplain and completely at the mercy of tiny marauding primates like marmosets and squirrel monkeys. Giant prehistoric birds called Hoatzins would lurk about while Toucans kept their distance and called loudly from the canopy. You could even fish for piranha off the veranda.

While aboard RV Orient Pandaw, I did get a run down from Australian rep, John Boyd, about future plans for the SE Asian river specialists. Well known for their signature voyages along the Mekong from Saigon to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, they’ve also been busy on the Chindwin and Irrawaddy in Burma since 1995 and are soon to embark on the Ganges and Hugli rivers in India starting this September. The other stuff is secret, but look out for exciting new itineraries from this go-ahead line.


Here in Australia, Captain Cook’s Murray River itineraries are a popular, evergreen product, while some of the more locally-focussed Kimberley operators like North Star or Pearl Sea Coastal Cruises spend time upriver on the Roe, Prince Regent or Hunter chasing Barramundi and ancient Gwion Gwion rock art. Then there’s the Volga in Russia, the Danube Delta in Romania, the Dnieper in the Ukraine and the Nile and Congo in Africa. Yes, they all have cruises.

So don’t think that expedition cruising has to mean icebergs, penguins or polar bears. Nor does it have to involve crossing seas in search of remote islands, some of the world’s great inland waterways hold great adventure possibilities.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Statement Following Jakarta Bombings



The Minister of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Indonesia, Mr. Jero Wacik, SE, wishes to update the international community regarding the current tourism status in Indonesia following the recent tragic bombings of the Ritz Carlton and JW Marriot Hotel in Jakarta.

Mr. Wacik stresses that the overall security situation in Jakarta and throughout Indonesia is stable and safe. He notes that this is the high season in popular destinations in Indonesia such as Bali, Java, and Batam and that Indonesia is enjoying its best ever year in terms of tourism arrivals. This deplorable attack is an immediate tragedy in the loss of life and human suffering for those victims of the hotel bombings. It is sadly also very likely to have an impact on the image of Indonesia as a safe destination and consequently many Indonesians working in tourism destinations a thousand kilometers from Jakarta may lose their jobs if tourists become concerned.

The Minister wishes to reassure the international community in the most practical and straightforward terms:

1. In the past decade, Indonesia has gained a strong reputation among law enforcement and political leaders worldwide as a country that while it has suffered from terrorist attacks in the past has done more than most to effectively combat terrorism within their borders.

2. As BBC News (among others) has noted in their coverage of the recent bombings, this success has been achieved through a combination of good law enforcement, aggressive pursuit of suspects, open trials for suspects broadcast on TV, public discussions by Islamic leaders of issues of concern, and a reintegration program for terrorists and supporters who wish to return to a productive path and rejoin society.

3. Sadly, as this week’s bombings have shown, in a country of 230 million people there are still a few willing to carry out this senseless attack which will gain them nothing but will hurt the people of Indonesia.

4. We would urge countries considering a warning to their citizens about visiting Indonesia to examine the conditions on the ground carefully; to let their Embassies and the world media inform them of the real situation throughout the country; and not to let a few madmen severely damage the lives of the many thousands of Indonesians who work in the tourism sector and welcome visitors to a happy and safe tourism experience every year.

Please contact the above media crisis centre for further updates and information. We know if we all work together, we can rebuild Indonesia’s justified reputation as a welcoming and hospitable destination.

IS THIS HOW CAPTAIN COOK REALLY DIED?


david ellis with malcolm andrews

THE way that the death of Captain James Cook in the Hawaiian Islands has been taught to not only our children, but to others in schools around the world, is now being claimed as an extraordinary and deliberate distortion of the truth.

And the man fighting hardest to set the record straight is a native Hawaiian who has been conducting a war of words over the issue for a decade or more.

Herb Kawainui Kane is a respected artist-historian who has been honoured as a Living Treasure of Hawaii for his artistic interpretation of the islands' history.

And he says that the popular version of Cook having been sacrificed by heathen Hawaiian priests is garbage… and he is always ready to talk about the real events to the many Australians who make the trek to Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii to see the very spot where the heroic Cook died.

Unfortunately many don't make it to the monument that marks this spot: it is a tough three-hour trek via an overgrown jungle path. And while you can get there more easily by boat, to do so you also have to pay for a day's scuba diving as well, like it or not.

So many Australian visitors heading for Kealakekua Bay get only as far as the nearby town of Captain Cook and its Captain Cook Coffee Company, buy coffee and Cook-inspired T-shirts, and go off sightseeing elsewhere.

Or if they're lucky, bump into Herb Kane who lives just outside town.

"Many of his crew were weak from tuberculosis and venereal disease," Kane tells Aussie visitors. "And Cook was no longer the humane and diplomatic leader of his earlier voyages. Often his temper erupted in foot-stamping tantrums that his men called 'heivas' – because they resembled the energetic Tahitian dance."

(In recent years British experts have explained this as symptomatic of a vitamin B deficiency, probably caused by intestinal worms.)

Cook had first visited Hawaii, then known as the Sandwich Islands, in 1778 on his way to Alaska in search of the fabled North West Passage. On his way back south he arrived at Kealakekua Bay at the time of Makahiki, an annual festival honouring the Land God, Lono.

Because Cook's ship with its masts, spas and sails resembled the tall pole, cross-piece and white banner of Lono carried during the festival, historians for years have argued that the islanders believed Cook – when he stepped ashore – was Lono reincarnated, and revered him as a living god.

But when they realised their mistake, to save face and prove that Cook was only mortal, the island's chiefs ritualistically sacrificed him.

But Herb Kane says: "Rubbish. Cook was never regarded as a god, and on this visit was greeted with all the respect due to a visiting chief."

Later, however, when Cook was readying to sail on, his sailors went ashore for firewood, and according to Kane's research, pulled down a wooden fence enclosing part of a temple's altar and sacred images – a desecration that gave great offence to the islanders.

"Thus when Cook returned to Kealakekua Bay again on February 14 1779 and went ashore a violent confrontation erupted," Kane explains.

"Cook is known to have been seen gesturing from shore toward his ship's longboats, and a legend has grown that Cook, the humanitarian, was signalling to his men to stop firing their muskets.

"But would a commander order a cease-fire in the midst of a desperate fight for his life and that of his men? More likely he was waving for urgent rescue, for like most sailors of his time, he could not swim.

"Before that rescue came, he was clubbed from behind and stabbed to death."

In total seventeen Hawaiians, Captain James Cook and four British marines died in the skirmish.

Kane says the British created their version of Cook's ritualistic death to make him a hero in public eyes. "There was no mention of the desecration of the temple," he says.

Herb Kane has recorded Cook's visits to Hawaii in ten paintings in his book, Voyages which details the myths, legends and historical events of his nation.

"I have a great admiration for Cook," he says. "It's important for our children that his real story be known."

……………………………


PHOTO CAPTIONS:

[] HERB Kane – setting the record straight

[] EARLY painting of the skirmish that resulted in the death of Captain Cook

[] CAPTAIN Cook Memorial in Kealakekua Bay on Hawaii's Big Island
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