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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Isan province of Loei: discover a land before time



Thailand is an ancient land and wherever you wander you’ll discover customs and traditions that are centuries-old yet thrive to this day. In Loei, a prime example of antiquity, is the colourful Phi Tha Khon Festival, where the locals dress in colourful masks, and carry symbols of fertility. The province’s landscape itself is more ancient still formed over millions of years before humans; Thais, tourists or otherwise walked the earth. Here, you can travel back in time and explore the geological wonders.



Loei’s Nong Hin region is rich with limestone formations, which were once below Palaeozoic oceans some 540 to 250 million years ago. Over the millennia, these sea-beds were thrust skyward and the result is today’s topsy-turvy landscape. There are huge trees, greenery and vines growing on top of huge barren boulders and cliff faces, as if they’d been planted by garden-loving giants. It’s a landscape so primaeval that you almost expect a toothsome Tyrannosaurus Rex to burst from the undergrowth at any moment.

These hills are often compared with the amazing rock formations of Kunming in China where the thrusting crags have inspired local artists and craftsmen for centuries, making the region a tourist magnet. But here in Loei, you often have the limestone’s peaks and caves all to yourself, and this tranquility makes it feel like an untouched Eden.

The best place to start exploring is Nong Hin Village, which has a visitor centre at Suan Hin Pha Ngam, a garden area surrounded by an amphitheatre of stone. It’s a popular spot for photos, but if you want to explore the area more deeply, climb aboard one of the nearby e-taen tractor trucks that take you right into the limestone crags. There are jungle trails to follow, but first take the metal steps up to a sturdy metal platform, this is the park’s best viewpoint and you are rewarded for your climb with a 360-degree view of the limestone crags. The locals have named the peaks after the creatures they evoke; a rather flattened turtle is the most memorable but there are also elephant and dinosaur shapes to discover as you descend and continue further along the trail.



Down the road there’s another Pha Ngam walking trail, and you can actually enter into the limestone itself and explore the caves, hollowed out by dripping water over millions of years. Impressive displays of Mother Nature’s artistry lie deep within. And just like the peaks above, the cave’s ancient stone formations are named after the shapes they take on. In the torchlight you’ll see an impressive mermaid, a shark, two dogs kissing, and various dinosaur body parts. If often takes a little imagination to make the figures out, but there are genuine fossils of ancient sea creatures to be found too, and the guides can show you the best ones.

You do need to go with a guide, many of whom are young local students who really know their stuff and the best routes to take; without them you could easily get lost in this Loei labyrinth.

At places where the sunlight pierces through the rock, greenery and vines crowd into this underworld and large bats, unaccustomed to visitors flap away over your head, resentful at the disturbance. It’s not unknown to come across the occasional snake either, so watch your step.



After ducking through crevices and caves the 800-metre trail eventually leads through hidden orchards and then to the top of the limestone crags where you traverse precarious paths, scale steep metal staircases and feel dizzy at the alarming drops to either side, but the views and greenery make it worth the effort. The difficulty of the terrain means that Suan Hin Pha Ngam is an undisturbed nature reserve; the area is home to a wide array of birdlife and some stunning plants.

It can be tough going so you need good footwear and do take water. There are plans to make this trail more user-friendly in the next few months, so to experience the Pha Ngam trail in the raw, it’s worth making a visit now.

But whenever you go, this lovely area of Loei is worth seeing and not just because it emulates China’s Kunming. The region is unique in itself and offers walks, waterfalls treks, views, and experiences that few places can match. So come explore this timeless and untamed land – adventure awaits.

Information
  • Nong Hin is around 50 km from Loei town and there are local buses. If you have your own transport, take Highway 201 and follow the signposts. 
  • The Suan Hin Pha Ngam part and trails are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and a guide should be hired. The tractors from the visitors’ centre to the viewpoint are around 20 Baht per person. 
  • If you want to walk the trails, strong shoes are essential and a torch would be useful. Take sun screen and plenty of water.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Australian Stories - 23 July 2015

News you can use
Welcome
     
  48 hours exploring The Great Eastern Drive Tasmania
Spend 48 hours exploring The Great Eastern Drive Tasmania on a scenic road trip that takes in some of the state’s iconic natural wonders. Easily accessible from both Hobart and Launceston via a short drive, the Great Eastern Drive is where you will discover some of Tasmania’s most beautiful spots including the picturesque Bay of Fires and the famous Wineglass Bay. You’ll also find charming coastal towns along the way and a number of great places to taste some of the delicious produce and wine that Tasmania is renowned for. Find out more on Australia.com.
     
  Queen’s Wharf Brisbane announcement
Echo Entertainment Group has partnered with Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited (CTF) and Far East Consortium (Australia) Pty Limited to form a joint venture for the Queen’s Wharf Brisbane Project. The project will include an iconic world-class integrated resort and new entertainment precinct which are connected to South Bank and adjacent to the CBD and riverfront. It will feature more than 1,100 premium hotel rooms, a spectacular feature Sky Deck, 50 restaurants and bars, world class gaming facilities and three major event spaces with capacity for up to 60,000 people. The project will commence construction in 2017.
     
  Indigenous Wildlife Journey at Healesville Sanctuary
Healesville Sanctuary has launched a tour that connects Indigenous culture with Australia’s wildlife. Visitors are welcomed onto Wurundjeri Country by a passionate, knowledgeable Indigenous Ranger and then explore the Sanctuary together on a guided walking tour. Guests will discover and taste bush tucker plants and hear Dreaming Stories, handed down through generations, of how people and animals were created. Most of all, they will feel spiritually enriched by stories of a people, place and culture more than 40,000 years old.
     
  Tastings on Hastings
Port Macquarie’s Tastings on Hastings will take place from 6 to 8 November 2015 with celebrity chef Matt Moran joining the celebrations. Themed 'Fire, Water, Harvest', the food festival will include the inaugural Fire Water Festival, celebrity chef dinners, cooking demonstrations and master classes. The festival's feature event will be held on Sunday 8 November and will provide visitors with the opportunity to sample new products, meet producers, share tasting plates, shop for local produce and enjoy the entertainment on the Town Green.
     
  Coral Expeditions in Tasmania
Coral Expeditions will expand its expedition cruise program to Tasmania from this summer. The first of 16 departures embarks on 16 November 2015 and the season will run until February 2016. A highlight of the seven-night itinerary from Hobart will be two days exploring the pristine Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area at Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour with Coral Expeditions’ Parks and Wildlife Ranger. Passengers can look forward to an active adventure, with kayaking opportunities and expert-guided bushwalks in five national parks and two World Heritages Areas.
     
  Discover Haggerstone Island
On Australia.com, find out more about a one-of-a-kind island experience located 600 kilometres north of Cairns. Haggerstone Island is a unique hideaway based in one of the world’s greatest marine wonders, the Great Barrier Reef. The all-inclusive island resort is self-described as ‘rustic luxury’ and is accessible only by chartered aircraft and a boat ride or by seaplane. Haggerstone Island is self-sustainable and offers aquatic adventures on their very own vessels.
     

Monday, July 20, 2015

Myanmar: The Golden Land

Shwezigon Pagoda Pagan

Bask in the golden glow of Myanmar.

Myanmar is known as the Golden Land – and for good reason. Everywhere you look, you are greeted with golden sunsets, stupas and smiles. Rivers glisten like gold, their banks dotted with small villages filled with shining temples, and at sunset the sun’s rays shimmer along the water’s surface.

There is no better way to explore Myanmar’s golden heart than a cruise along the iconic Ayeryarwady River. Burma’s longest river, it is best known as the 'Road to Mandalay', flowing north to south from its source high in the Himalayas through some of the nation's most spectacular and scenic regions before emptying into the Andaman Sea. Navigable for about 1,400km from its mouth, in August, when the Himalayan snows melt, the water is high enough to allow vessels all the way to Bhamo, close to the Chinese border in the country’s wild north.

The most accessible section of the river follows a route between Mandalay, the country’s second largest city and Bagan, famous for its temple-strewn plains. Mandalay, an important Buddhist spiritual centre, is home to thousands of monks and more than 2,500 Buddha images, mostly carved from alabaster from the Saygin Hills near Madaya. The ancient capital of Bagan, now a World Heritage site, contains around 3,000 pagodas, temples and Buddhas, including the world’s largest reclining Buddha.

A particular highlight of any Ayeryarwady cruise is a visit to the Mahamuni Pagoda in Mandalay. Seemingly bathed in solid gold both inside and out, it houses one of Myanmar's most venerated religious artefacts, the Mahamuni Buddha.

According to ancient tradition, only five likenesses of the Buddha were said to have been made during his lifetime: two in India, two in paradise, and the fifth was the Maha Muni or "Great Sage". Archaeologists believe the image was probably cast during the reign of King Chandra Surya, who ascended the throne in AD 146, some 600 years after the Buddha actually passed away. Little is known of the Maha Muni's travels over the next fifteen hundred years. It was stolen and moved around by various kings. At other times it was buried beneath a crumbling temple in a forgotten jungle. The image was brought to Mandalay in 1784 by King Bodawpaya and placed within the specially built Payagi Pagoda where it has remained ever since.

Originally cast in metal, the 3.8M golden statue is now entirely coated with a two-inch thick layer of gold leaf. Many thousands of pilgrims travel from far and wide to visit the shrine each day, where male devotees place gold leaf upon the Buddha, believing it will bring them good fortune in this life and the next. Indeed so much gold has been applied over the centuries and by so many different hands that the figure has developed an irregular outline, leaving all but the Buddha’s face – which is cleaned daily, with a rough and knobbly surface.

But the Buddha is not the Pagoda’s only attraction. In a nearby courtyard are six Khmer bronze statues - three lions, a three-headed elephant and two warriors - that originally stood as guardians of Cambodia's Angkor Wat temple. The statues of the warriors are reputed to have miraculous healing qualities and legend has it that rubbing a body part of either statue will cure an affliction in that part of ones own body.

Boutique luxury travel operator, Sanctuary Retreats, offers some of the most luxurious cruises along the Ayeryarwady aboard the Sanctuary Ananda, which launched in November 2014. Custom-built using traditional Myanmar materials and arranged over four decks, this floating palace combines all the comforts of 5-star contemporary luxury with the refined elegance of authentic Burmese design. The Sanctuary Ananda offers one of the highest staff-to-guest ratios on the river, allowing guests to enjoy the mysteries of Myanmar with a choice of six itineraries led by expert guides.

The vessel is also the only all-balcony (fully furnished), all-suite ship on the Ayeryarwady River, with just 21 beautifully appointed suites as well as an on-board spa, library, gallery, lounge, cocktail bar, and plunge pool. Itineraries available are 3, 4 and 7 night itineraries on the Upper Ayeryarwady River and 11 nights on the Upper and Lower Ayeryarwady River, sailing past dense jungle-clad riverbanks, grand gorges, endless rice paddies and snapshots of rural life being played out along the riverbank, including the occasional glimpse of saffron-clad neophyte monks bound for temples. While sailing along the river, guests are also treated to various unique experiences and cultural exchanges, including a visit to a local lacquer-ware workshop where gold is beaten down by hand at a speed of up to 70 times a minute into paper-thin gold leaf.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

#AppletheWallaby checks into Queensland Resort


A young female wallaby in tropical north Queensland is probably the only wild wallaby in the world with her own hashtag. Given the name Apple by a young guest staying at Thala Beach Nature Reserve, she's certainly the only one that calls Port Douglas home. Not content with making popular red carpet appearances on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, #AppletheWallaby also has a couple of YouTube video clips under her belt. Naturally, like any self-respecting social media star, she also has her own web page.

Despite the demands of looming motherhood (she has a joey developing in her pouch), Apple makes multiple unscheduled daily appearances in Thala's open sided lobby. She's a natural crowd-pleaser, gently bounding across the slate floor, pausing to preen and pose for guests and their cameras. Apples nostrils twitch as she checks out the strange human aromas, her curiosity apparent. As she inches in close, her dark eyes shaded by lashes the envy of women worldwide, she rests her forepaw on a guest's knee in a marsupial version of a handshake.

One of approximately 50 wild agile wallabies that inhabit Thala Beach Nature Reserve, a team of onsite Rangers keep an eye on Apple along with other wildlife that come and go through the seasons. Head Ranger Brett Kelly has been with Thala since its inception in the 1990s. A dedicated naturist just like Thala's owners Robert and Oonagh Prettejohn, Brett has a soft spot for the reserve's wild inhabitants.

'It's hard to say exactly how many wallabies inhabit Thala's forest as there are no fences and wallabies will roam wherever food and water can be found,' says Brett. 'We guess that there are around 50 species of agile and swamp wallabies, but really can't be certain. Recently we've seen a number of joeys so we do know that the population is healthy and growing. '

Thala Beach Nature Reserve is a haven for native wildlife. As well as wallabies, onsite Rangers have spotted three types of possum – long tailed pygmy possums, sugar gliders and the striped possum. The long grass around the Stargazing Observatory is a favourite haunt for these critters. Bandicoots as well as echidnas, which are unique as an egg laying mammal, have also been sighted. Almost 200 bird and 150 butterfly species have also been documented by Rangers and nature-loving guests.

Opened in 1998 and awarded the highest Ecotourism accreditation, Thala offers guests meaningful nature experiences with minimal environmental impact. The land Thala occupies was formerly sugarcane farmland back in the 1970's when the Prettejons purchased it. More than 30 years later they've managed the re-establishment of complex native forests, shunning the use of damaging chemicals and pesticides. Achieving eco-certification through sustainable practices and environmental sensitivity allows guests to assist in the environmental rehabilitation process. Deluxe eco designed timber bungalows are built on stilts within the forest canopy providing a private and unobtrusive approach to nature.

Located 45 minutes north of Cairns International Airport, Thala sits atop a headland surrounded by forest-clad ranges overlooking Great Barrier Reef waters. With wild wallabies roaming free amongst native flora and fauna, Thala is an eco-retreat with environment integrity. With #AppletheWallaby making delightful unscheduled appearances, Thala's guests enjoy an immersive nature experience while minimising their environmental footprint.

Find #AppletheWallaby online at:

Web page: www.thalabeach.com.au/apple-the-wallaby

You Tube: https://youtu.be/jUwA0nDwG6s

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ThalaBeachLodge

Twitter: www.twitter.com/ThalaBeachNR

Instagram: www.instagram.com/thalabeach

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/thalabeach

Monday, July 13, 2015

Capturing Asia’s Winning Insider Moments


Insider Journeys has announced the winner of its Insider Moments Photo Competition following much deliberation of the high quality photo submissions it received.

The winning photo, which perfectly captured an enchanting sunset along the U Bein Bridge in Myanmar, was shot by Shuo Huang and has received the top prize of an $800 Apple Gift Card.

Shuo described the scene that set the stage for the winning image.

"On a sweltering day, I cycled along the U Bein Bridge in Myanmar, the sun setting behind me and a deluge of rain came down. The light was phenomenal," said Shuo.

Insider Journeys General Manager, Customer Experience and Marketing, Joe Ponte, was delighted with the quality of the images submitted to the competition.

"We received some incredibly evocative images which really did illustrate the rich tapestry of local life across Asia," said Ponte.

"As well as featuring Burma, the other images which received recognition captured scenes in Luang Prabang in Laos, Shahpura in Rajasthan northern India, the Bangkok River in Thailand and the 'Venice of India', Udaipur.

The runners up received prizes of a Luxe Asian Grand Tour Box 11th edition (RRP $95USD).

For more inspiration on travelling in Asia, visit the Insider Journeys team at http://www.insiderjourneys.com.au/blog.

WINNER: Shuo Huang, U Bein Bridge, Burma

1st Runner Up: Jasmine Hulm, Bamboo Bridge, Luang Prabang Laos

2nd Runner Up: Marc Branson, Shahpura, India

3nd Runner Up: Kris Askey, Bangkok River, Thailand

4th Runner Up: Debra Branson, Udaipur, India

ABOUT INSIDER JOURNEYS

Insider Journeys has been operating Small Group Journeys and tailor-made holidays to Asia since 1993, formerly under the Travel Indochina name. Offering journeys to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, China, India, Sri Lanka, Japan, Burma, Mongolia and Bhutan. Insider Journeys has seven offices across its Asia destinations, Western tour guides and English-speaking local guides.

Insider Journeys' idea is simple – to explore and share the essence of Asia's history, culture, natural beauty and, most importantly, people. The company has a commitment to responsible travel and a belief that travel is an exchange of knowledge and perspectives, cultures and wealth.

For more information and bookings, Insider Journeys' Asia experts can be contacted on 1300 362 777 or visit www.insiderjourneys.com.au.

For great travel adventures and stories, follow the Insider Journeys team at http://www.insiderjourneys.com.au/blog, on Twitter @InsiderJourneys

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Autumn in Victoria's Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges


Autumn is a perfect time to visit the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges. The summer heat has departed and the weather remains calm and cool.

Less than an hour’s drive from Melbourne, the Yarra Valley vignerons open their cellar doors to some of Australia’s best wines. The Autumn months are very busy for winemakers as the grapes ripen ready for harvest or what the wine markers call ‘Vintage’ commencing in late February for early ripening varieties such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and continuing through to May.

There are more than 70 cellar doors to explore including big brand wineries such as Domaine Chandon, Balgownie Estate, Rochford, De Bortoli and Oakridge and many boutique wineries with stories to share. Cider and ale makers are also blazing a trail with seven breweries and cider makers.


Cellar door wine tasting
The colours of the valley turn to gold and red of oaks, elms and chestnuts. It’s the perfect time to take flight on a hot air balloon or a leisurely stroll through any of the regions parks and gardens. The Healesville Sanctuary is busy with the scurry of baby feet as many of the wildlife give birth in the cooler months.

Autumn is also the season of ripeness for the fruit orchards. The summer sun has worked its magic and fruit trees hang heavy with lush produce. It’s a busy time for apple pickers in the Warburton Valley and there are many fruit stalls along the highway offering the freshest of produce.

Autumn is the best time to enjoy the colours of the Dandenong Ranges. It’s right on Melbourne’s doorstep, but feels like a world away with scenic winding roads to quaint hilltop villages, Mountain Ash forests and cool-climate gardens.


National Rhododendron Gardens
Take a walk through the National Rhododendron Gardens and see maples and cherry trees ablaze with autumn hues. Walk through the tranquil woodland garden of Pirianda Garden, see the golden colours of maples, beeches and gingkos at the Alfred Nicholas Gardens or the liquidambers and maples along a range of walking tracks at R J Hamer Arboretum. Tread quietly and you may come across a lyrebird impersonating the sounds of the rain forest at Sherbrooke.

Experience the breathtaking view of Melbourne from Skyhigh Mt Dandenong, feed the birds at Grants picnic ground, take a ride on the famous Puffing Billy Steam Train or soar through the trees at Trees Adventure.

Kick through autumn leaves, explore the charming hilltop villages and snuggle up by a log fire for an idyllic escape.

www.visityarravalley.com.au || www.visitdandenongranges.com.au

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Discovering Thailand in the Museums of Bangkok



by Laurent Kuenzle, CEO, Asian Trails




Isn’t it true that for many of us the sights that are closest to our homes are the ones we know the least? How many of us have really visited the tourist attractions in our own city despite recommending them to our friends and clients.

I, for one, have not been to many of the unique museums in Bangkok. It is in the spirit of discovering what’s in our backyards and on the initiative of our new partners, Rock Around Asia, we filled one of our minibuses with Asian Trails Thailand managers and set off for a full day of museum visits in Bangkok.


Labour Museum: Chinese Coolies
I must admit that I have not heard of the Thai Labour Museum. You won’t find it in any “to do lists”, “must see sights”, or listings of major guide books on Bangkok. A hidden little gem behind Makkasan Station, it claims to be the first and only labour museum in Asia. Don’t expect to see any multiple-storey grand building. Instead the museum is inside a discreet house, which used to be the railway police station. Make sure you wear light clothing, as parts of the museum are not air-conditioned.

Thailand’s contemporary history. You learn how the Thai people changed from a partially enslaved population to be a free people living in this modern industrial age, what motivated the Chinese to migrate to the Kingdom, and how work ethics changed after Thailand became a constitutional monarchy. The museum also pays tribute to the Thai kings who implemented reforms that were far ahead of their times.

All inscriptions in the museum are in Thai and English. After an hour’s tour of its east and west wing you will be well versed with Thai’s contemporary history and the evolution of labour.

From history to medicine as we drove down to the Chao Phraya River, and crossed by boat to the Siriraj Medical Museum. For the Thai people this is one of the most well known museums in the country, and a compulsory field trip for most high school students in Bangkok.


Labour Museum: WWI to Cold War
Here you will relive the valiant efforts of these selfless medical personnel in saving lives with vivid and, at times, disturbing descriptions of injuries, and how the doctors and nurses coped with the sheer volume of the injured. It is also sad to watch the pictorial accounts of the forensic teams toiling through the piles of bodies to identify the victims, and the techniques they used to do this.

There is screening of a comprehensive and touching documentary on the hospital’s activities after the tsunami. I don’t think anyone left the room without a tear in the eye.

The Forensic and Pathological part of the museum is not for the faint hearted. Unlike its western counterparts where explicit photographs and displays of the dead and wounded are not usually displayed, the Siriraj Medical Museum shows all these and mostly in colour. Expect to see graphic photographs of victims of train and traffic accidents.

Our next stop is BACC or the Bangkok Art & Cultural Center, which probably has the biggest impact on the art world in Thailand since its opening. It is located opposite the MBK shopping complex, a few steps away from the National Stadium skytrain station, and is one of the easiest museums to access in the city.

A number of halls are allocated to permanent exhibitions, but many are hosting temporary art shows that are quite interesting. Art is always a matter of taste, and the latter is pure individualism. What I like about the center is the mix of foreign and local art, local artists influenced by foreign elements, and foreign artists experimenting with Asian culture. I don’t know if the foodie term of ‘fusion’ applies to paintings and sculptures, but if it does then the temporary exhibitions at BACC certainly fit this term. Check BACC’s website for the schedule of exhibitions.

We have teamed up with Rock Around Asia to bring more meaning to museum visits and a wider context to the exhibits, as the company offers highly intellectual foreign and local experts for these visits. Their guides not only explain the museum’s displays, but will also bring perspective and academic content into the tour. They are also experts on a large number of museums and sights in Asia. Working together, Asian Trails can tailor make unique experiences for special interest groups, academics, universities, and travellers with distinct interests.

Medical museum (mikeestravels)
Visitors may find some parts of this museum a bit too gruesome to visit, so plan which sections you wish to go to. A word of caution - the museum is a definite no go for families with young children.

Housed in several parts of Siriraj Hospital, the most interesting area for foreigners is probably the Tsunami Museum that is part of the Forensic Medicine section. Here are accounts of the activities of the hospital’s doctors and nurses who travelled to the Phuket area on December 26, 2004 to help local hospitals cope with the injured and the dead from the devastating tsunami.

The museum gives a unique insight into the development of the modern Thai society, relating the story of the lower classes, as well as giving an equal account of


Happy trails.

Contact Asian Trails Thailand for further information.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Australian Stories - July 2015 - Tourism Australia

News you can use
Welcome
Netball World Cup Sydney 2015
With the Netball World Cup Sydney 2015 only 35 days away, some exciting announcements have been made by the 16 competing nations, as they confirm their teams and final 12 players listed to compete in Sydney. On Friday 7 August, NWC2015’s Opening Ceremony will feature over 400 performers and members of the netball community. This special performance will create new benchmarks for the sport in pre-game performance and officially open NWC2015 in style. During the tournament FanFEST will be the ultimate fan social hub and meeting point to #GETGAMEREADY before watching the action inside Allphones Arena. 
The Great Eastern Drive launches in Tasmania
The Great Eastern Drive has just been launched on Tasmania’s east coast. Stretching 176km between Orford and St Helens, the Great Eastern Drive will lead visitors to some of the most highly-awarded experiences and destinations in the region including the globally renowned Bay of Fires and Wineglass Bay. The Drive also encompasses three of the east coast’s walks, The Maria Island Walk, Freycinet Experience Walk and Bay of Fires Walk. Destined to become one of Australia’s iconic road trips, the Great Eastern Drive invites people to explore and ‘just stop and wander’ throughout this beautiful region.
Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains unveils new rooms
Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains recently unveiled 12 newly constructed rooms and suites, including the spacious Grand Luxury Suite. Boasting two expansive balconies which overlook the resort's middle lake and the iconic Jamison Valley, the 102m² Grand Luxury Suite features an expansive lounge room with vaulted ceilings, dining area and gas fireplace, while the master bedroom has a large ensuite with spa bath and separate walk in shower. The new additions also include an impressive two bedroom deluxe suite.
Wintjiri Arts and Museum opens
Wintjiri Arts & Museum was officially opened this week at Ayers Rock Resort. Wintjiri Arts & Museum is dedicated entirely to showcasing and supporting local Indigenous art and will now house the Resort’s successful artist in residence program where artists from the central desert region create art-in-situ, allowing them to interact with guests, as well as exhibit and sell their works. The retail area of Wintjiri offers Anangu art-inspired gifts together with bush medicine, soaps and cosmetics. It also features a timeline of the history of tourism in the region and a display to educate guests about the local flora and fauna as well as the geology of the Red Centre.
Truffle Hunt Club takes trip to Tasmania and Flinders Island
In August 2015, a private truffle weekend will provide a unique insight into truffles and the Tamar Valley and Flinders Island food and drink producers. The Truffle Hunt Club trip will include a behind the scenes tour via private aircraft, a private truffle hunt, lunch with selected Tasmanian artisanal producers, a truffle cooking class at Red Feather Inn and a degustation dinner at Tasmania's best truffle restaurant Stillwater. Guests will also spend a whole day on remote Flinders Island with quirky Island producers sharing their stories and a private chef creating beach-side masterpieces using local produce and truffle.  

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