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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Samoa’s only island resort, in honour of a legend



Words Roderick Eime

If you look on Google Earth, you may still see the empty little island a few hundred metres from Apia’s deepwater port, just sitting there waiting for something to happen.

Well, wait no more, because that tiny oasis not much bigger than a football field, now plays host to arguably the most modern, contemporary resort in Apia, perhaps even Samoa.

Named after the legendary Polynesian beauty, Sina, the resort grew from the sand much like the famous coconut trees of the timeless folktale.

Taumeasina (Landing place of Sina) Island Resort opened in 2016 and has continued to grow in reputation and popularity and has already risen to number 3 on TripAdvisor’s list of top traveller-ranked hotels in Apia. The resort has also won the Samoa tourism excellence and best hygiene awards as bestowed by the Samoa Tourism Authority.

Close to the port and some of the waterfront nightspots, it’s still remote enough to be private and away from the downtown hubbub, just a five-minute drive away across the resort’s dedicated causeway.

With 80 hotel rooms and a mix of two and three bedroom self-contained villas on an island, Taumeasina Island Resort is the only resort of its type in Samoa and brings a new level of 4.5-star sophistication to Apia.



Beyond the swish accommodations, there is ample scope for meetings and conferences as well as weddings or private functions for up to 800 guests or delegates. There are smaller breakout rooms for board meetings and committees plus an outdoor wedding venue, delightfully located overlooking the ocean and also ideal for stunning evening events.

When it’s time to relax, swim in the waterfront pool in between cocktails, or indulge in a treatment or session at Fofo Spa & Sauna. The Spa uses both locally made Mailelani Samoa and the world's leader in professional marine cosmetics; Thalgo.

If you’re feeling a bit more energetic, or want to burn some calories, hit it out on the tennis court or the gym. There’s even an outdoor exercise circuit with gym equipment stationed around Taumeasina Island.

Dining can be either casual or formal depending on your mood or occasion. Lapita's Restaurant serves both continental and cooked breakfast, café style lunches and dinner in a casual dining atmosphere. There’s live entertainment every night and a themed buffet depending on demand. You can catch Taumeasina's famous Fia Fia night every week in this venue.

Sina’s Restaurant, on the other hand, is where Executive Chef, Bradley Martin loves to show off. Martin began as a kitchen hand 35 years ago and worked all over Australia, at numerous Hilton, Sheraton and Novotel hotels. Diners can choose either indoor or out from the seasonal menu featuring both traditional Samoan and internationally inspired cuisines.


Taumeasina Island Resort
Taumeasina Island
Beach Road, Apia
Samoa

Phone: +685 61000
Email: Info@taumeasinaislandresortsamoa.com
www.taumeasinaislandresortsamoa.com

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Wildlife spotting: Africa's Big Five


Tips for the best places to see them.

African safaris are usually top of most people's bucket list when it comes to wildlife viewing. Its multitude of national parks, reserves and conservation areas number amongst some of the most beautiful places on the planet and are home to an astonishing variety of wild animals, ensuring that a wildlife safari will undoubtedly be a major highlight of your trip.

And with so many exciting wildlife experiences to be had at in different destinations and indeed, different times of the year, any visit to Africa is guaranteed to be full of close encounters of the animal kind. But for many travellers, coming face to face with Africa's 'Big Five' – lion, leopard, elephant, black rhinoceros, and African buffalo, remains the pinnacle wildlife experience.

Originally a term coined by big-game hunters to describe the five most difficult African species to track and hunt on foot, today a 'hunt' for the Big Five is typically with camera and binoculars only.

But where are the best places to see them? Well, while animal viewing possibilities abound, the reality is there's no guarantee you'll see each one while on safari. Knowing animals' habits – as well as where to stay and what to do while on safari – will greatly increase your chance of success. Expert suggestions for where visitors to Africa are most likely to tick off their Big Five wish list.

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

First on the list is the inspirational Serengeti, a classic Tanzania safari destination and one of only a handful with populations of all five species.

Lying in a high plateau between the Ngorongoro highlands in northern Tanzania and the Masai Mara Reserve in neighboring Kenya, Serengeti National Park is considered one of the best places for safari for one very specific reason – the Great Migration. This annual event sees hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra pass through the park in search of food – and with the herds of grazers, come the predators. One of the best times to visit the park is in May when the grass becomes dry and exhausted and the wildebeest and zebra start to mass in huge armies offering a spectacular wildlife show.

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Next up, is the Ngorongoro Crater, another classic Tanzania safari destination. The breath-taking Ngorongoro Crater is a geographical wonder in its own right, with the caldera's high, steep walls looming steeply over the valley below. And it's these steep walls that also lead to the incredible abundance of wildlife in the crater, as they trap a rich assortment of large and small safari animals within.

With two rainy seasons – the long rains fall in April and May (into early June) and the short rains fall in October and November, the best times to visit are December, January, February or late June through to early October.

Okavango Delta, Botswana

With a well-deserved reputation as one of the best all-round safari destinations, the Okavango Delta forms part of the Kalahari Basin, situated at the southern periphery of the Great Rift Valley, and covers a massive 22,000 square kilometres. Although the periphery is semi-arid, the Okavango Delta itself is a patchwork of cool clear streams, lagoons, floodplains and forested islands.

Covering almost a third of the entire Okavango Delta, the Moremi Game Reserve comprises a diverse habitat where the desert and delta meet, comprising forests, lagoons, floodplains, pans and woodlands. Because of its unique terrain, the area contains the full spectrum of game and birdlife including all of the Big Five, as well as cheetahs, hippos and crocodiles and plenty of bird life, and offering up superb game viewing.

Moremi is best visited during the dry season, from July to October, when seasonal pans dry up and vast numbers of wildlife flock to where the floodwaters infiltrate the Delta, providing one of the world's most spectacular sights. June to August is peak season for most safari areas within the Okavango. But September and October when temperatures really start to climb, leads to even higher concentrations of game around the few available water sources.

Masai Mara, Kenya

The final destination on Sanctuary Retreats' list is Kenya's most popular game park, the Masai Mara. The Kenyan extension of the Tanzania's famed Serengeti, the Mara is one of Africa's most famous safari destinations and also plays host to the famous Great Migration. Considered the birthplace of safari, Kenya offers up amazing game viewing experiences, not to mention plenty of opportunities to experience Africa's Big Five.

The migration is usually present in the Mara between July and October each year. During this time, dramatic river crossings are the order of the day, with crocodiles lying in wait for wildebeest and zebra.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

New foodie trails for Autumn in regional Victoria


Vineyards come to life in Victoria
As the leaves of the trees begin to take on Autumnal hues, regional Victoria’s culinary hotspots offer up exciting new flavours of the season. Award-winning food writer Dani Valent has created a series of food trails around Victoria, especially for gourmands.

These self-guided road trips take in the hidden foodie gems of Australia’s most exciting culinary region.

Beechworth Bounty

Lunch at Provenance, a visit to the Beechworth Honey Shop and afternoon delights at the Moments and Memories Tea Rooms before stops at two breweries and Pennyweight Winery.

Bellarine by Mouth

Enjoy mussels caught that morning, delicious goats cheese and hand-picked berries all before a crisp cider at Flying Brick and a glass of wine from the cellar doors of Scotchmans Hill and Jack Rabbit.

Bendigo Feast

Journey through the streets and laneways of this historic city before tasting the delectable treats of Masons of Bendigo, Mr Beebe’s Eating House & Bar, El Gordo and The Woodhouse, among others.

Daylesford Wander

Wombat Hill House, a café among the trees at the Botanic Gardens, launches a walking trail that captures fine food, wine and whiskey, with visitors encouraged to consider the Farmer’s Market on the first Saturday of the month.

Geelong Jaunt

From the waterfront to the heart of the city centre, the day begins with coffee and seafood by the pier before visits to hip bars and cafés as you approach the famed Little Creatures Brewery in the south of Geelong.

Gippsland Dairy Trail

Cheese, cheese, a glass of wine, and more cheese. This is a trail for lovers of all things brie, camembert and blue, as they meander through the region famous for its creamy and aged delights.

Goldfields Gulp

Wood-fired pizza by the fire at Mount Buninyong is followed by brewery and winery experiences that will tantalise the tastebuds. Gin comes to life at Kilderkin Distillery and consider an overnight journey by breaking up this adventure with accommodation at Captains Creek.

Great Ocean Road Bite

From Torquay to Apollo Bay, this coastal extravaganza takes wanderers to Blackman’s Brewery, Bellbrae Estate, Captain Moonlite, a la grecque, IPSOS, Wye General Store, Chris’ Beacon Point and the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse.

King Valley Drive, Bike and Taste

Journey by bike and by car as the very best Italian hospitality comes to life at Chrismont, Pizzini Wines and Dal Zotto Vines, the latter a pioneer of Italian varietals in Victoria. Smoky ribs await at Gamze Smokehouse before a cheeseboard at Milawa.

Kyneton Crawl

Get ready for gluttony. This trail is only one kilometre long, but it packs a punch as you dine-out on something sweet, French bistro fares, wood-fired pizza and locally produced charcuterie.

Mornington Peninsula Meander

Jackalope, Pt. Leo Estate, Gourmet Paddock, Foxeys Hangout and St Andrews Beach Brewery, it’s the very best of both sides of the peninsula as travellers make your way from coast-to-coast

Yarra Valley Small Wineries

Experience the boutique wonders of the Yarra Vallery as you traverse through Payne's Rise Wine, Brumfield Winery, Five Oaks Vineyard, Elmswood Estate, Morgan Vineyards, Killara Estate, Badger's Brook Winery, Soumah of Yarra Valley and Boat O'Craigo

Not done yet?

Consider a food trail in Melbourne’s city centre, with one-day experiences in Richmond and St Kilda complemented by opportunities for those that love after dark adventures.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Foods, Festivals and Facelifts



News Tidbits from the Northern Territory

The Northern Territory is set to turbo-charge its way into 2018 with an unprecedented $103 million investment to increase visitation; to stimulate the Territory economy by accelerating infrastructure and tourism experience development including the implementation of a Visitor Experience Enhancement Program which will provide grant funding for existing infrastructure and tourism businesses.

TURBOCHARGING TOURISM IN THE NT
Earlier this month, the Northern Territory Government proactively released a $103 million tourism stimulus package aimed at attracting more visitors, creating more local jobs and putting more money into the pockets of Territorians.

Tourism is a cornerstone of the NT economy, supporting thousands of small and medium size businesses and 17,000 direct and indirect jobs across a range of sectors including tourism, hospitality, retail, arts and culture and transport. Starting immediately and rolling out over the next two financial years, the Tourism Stimulus Package will deliver an additional:
$26.57 million for targeted tourism marketing to better promote our attractions, roll out marketing campaigns with key airlines, target niche markets and lure lucrative business events.
$56.24 million for new tourism infrastructure and related tourism programs creating more memorable visitor experiences, particularly in our parks and reserves.
$20.78 million to further enhance existing festivals, events and other tourism experiences to cement the Territory’s reputation as a vibrant and exciting place to live, work and visit.

The $26.57 million stimulus injection to marketing is anticipated to generate a $345 million return on investment directly into the Northern Territory’s economy and support thousands of jobs. Major products include a new $9.9 million multi-purpose visitor centre at the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens; $12 million in funding to reinforce the Red Centre as a global mountain biking destination; $3 million to the NT Government’s Visitor Experience Enhancement Program (VEEP); $21 million to enhance NT events; a rejuvenation of Darwin’s CBD, and a major $1.9 million boost for military heritage.

NEW-LOOK NT.COM LAUNCHES
Visitors planning a trip to the NT from this month onwards will have a new-fangled website to help organise their dream trip through Central Australia to the Top End. Tourism NT’s consumer website northernterritory.com currently promotes more than 2,000 key tourism operator products - from Uluru all the way to Humpty Doo - in five languages including English, German, Italian, French and Japanese.

Easier navigation and a greater focus on travel articles and itineraries are just some of the innovations that Tourism NT hopes will help entice more visitors from ‘considering’ to the ‘planning’ and ‘booking’ phase. The site will also be hosted on a new cloud-based platform to improve load speeds during peak periods.

DRIVERLESS SHUTTLES TOUCH DOWN IN DARWIN
Darwin International Airport passengers caught a fleeting glimpse of the future of airport transport during a two-day trial of the autonomous EZ10 shuttle earlier this week. The self-drive shuttles, which seat 12, use the latest sensory technology to navigate along pre-defined routes. The trial was designed to highlight the ease of connectivity these vehicles can provide within an airport precinct by operating on a pre-determined continuous loop around the car-parks, terminal and hotels.

DARWIN BARTENDER MIXES IT WITH WORLD’S BEST
David Robinson, owner of Darwin Waterfront’s Hot Tamale Mexican-inspired tequila bar and restaurant, mixed it with the world’s best cocktail makers at the recent Global Patron Perfectionist Competition in Mexico. Robinson’s tropical-inspired creation, ‘The Last Frontier’, featuring squeezed lime, smoked pineapple and ginger tepache, patron and vermouth all served in a Collins glass with chipotle salt, catapulted him into the Grand Final.

FACELIFT FOR DARWIN’S GEORGE BROWN BOTANIC GARDENS
Darwin’s George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens will undergo a $9.9 million facelift, with a new multi-purpose visitor and event centre to be built there as part of the Territory Labor Government's record $103 million Turbocharging Tourism stimulus package. Minister for Tourism and Culture, Lauren Moss said the enhancements would mean better facilities for festivals and events at the iconic Gardens, creating an improved visitor experience and helping to lift Darwin's reputation as a great place to visit and live.

“George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens is a stunning tropical destination, and this funding will make it even better - we want it to be a huge asset for tourists and locals,” Ms Moss said.

ART IN THE WILD, NT-STYLE
A filmmaker, textile artist, needle felter, painter, illustrator, writer, wood sculptor and a photographer have been selected to join The Territory Wildlife Park’s popular Artists in the Park program.

The initiative is designed to give the artists access to the Park’s amazing collection of flora, fauna and naturalist style exhibits, and to tap into the knowledge and experience of the Park’s highly skilled zookeepers and guides. Artists also have the opportunity to meet park guests, and participate in the Park’s markets and art exhibitions to raise awareness about threatened native species.

MILLION DOLLAR FISH SEASON 3 BREAKS ALL RECORDS
NT’s famous barra might’ve been jumping on to rods at the start of the Territory’s famous Million Dollar Fish competition in October, but so far the Million Dollar Fish has evaded capture.

Each October, 101 barramundi are tagged and released in Top End waters and keen anglers have until February 28 to bag the big one. One hundred fish are tagged with $10,000 prize tags and one with a whopping $1million. So far this season, thirteen eagle-eyed anglers have picked up a cool $10,000 each including a chef from Kakadu, a financial adviser from Humpty Doo and a Darwin-based boilermaker.

4WD CAMPING AT FLORENCE FALLS
Improvements have recently been made to Florence Falls 4WD Campground at Litchfield National Park, upgrading the walking track from the campground to the plunge pools, sealing the access road, and completing upgrades to the campsites. The works are part of plans to make Litchfield National Park, which attracts more than 360,000 visitors per year, more accessible for the public.

The popular Top End icon offers camping spots at Florence Falls, Wangi Falls, Sandy Creek, Surprise Creek and Walker Creek.

WILDLIFE IN THE TOP END
The Environment Centre NT has recently launched the quintessential field guide to animals in the Top End. Authored by Lindley McKay, the user friendly guide features more than 2000 images and a wealth of information on unique and rare wildlife, their habitats and conservation status. Australia’s Top End is home to an amazing array of wildlife, and many of Australia’s most iconic National Parks, so if a trip is on the cards, you won’t want to miss this.

RED CENTRE SNIPPETS:
TJUNGU FESTIVAL RETURNS
Now in its fifth consecutive year, Tjungu Festival is set to return to Ayers Rock Resort at Uluru-Kata Tjuta on 26-29 April. This vibrant celebration of Australian Indigenous culture features music, dance, film, fashion, food, sport and more. This year, Tjungu will also include a special focus on Indigenous art and a performance by Australian country music favourite Troy Cassar-Daley.

THE LOST CAMEL RETURNS
The boutique-style Lost Camel Hotel will re-open its doors at Ayers Rock Resort in July this year following an extensive refurbishment program. The modern, mid-scale hotel is just twenty minutes from Uluru and boasts a mix of Aboriginal and urban themes - the perfect backdrop for any stay in Australia’s spiritual heartland.

INSTA-ART IN ALICE
The Northern Territory Library’s iNsTagrammers: the best in NT photography from Instagram exhibition will continue at the Araluen Arts Centre until mid-March.

Developed by curator Caddie Brain, the Alice Springs exhibition features the best snaps of local life from local cattle producers, remote midwives, teachers, ice-cream makers and artists, mums and mayors.

Photographers from all parts of the Northern Territory - including Central Australian artists Siri Omber @siri.omberg, Mayor Damien Ryan @damienjryan and Dave Nixon @dixon_nave - have each contributed their images to the exhibition which features stunning imagery of impossible landscapes, cheeky wildlife and unique Territory pastimes as well as powerful photojournalism.

ULURU WELLNESS RETREAT
From September, Ayres Rock Resort will host a transformational wellness weekend with popular life change facilitator Peter Bliss. The retreat is designed to empower participants to manage their emotions and master their mind with practical mindfulness workshops, silence survival strategies, intuition and intention tips, Qigong workshops, and guided meditations to enhance their lives. Set in the spiritual surrounds of Ayers Rock Resort and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the retreat runs from September 7-13 and includes a nutritious food program and a Field of Light Star Pass.

ARALUEN ARTS CENTRE ANNOUNCES 2018 PROGRAM
A must-see on any Alice Springs adventure, the Araluen Arts Centre has just released its artistic program for 2018. Beginning with the critically acclaimed Bangarra Dance Theatre, and including other flagship companies such as The Australian Ballet and Bell Shakespeare, the 2018 program is set to kick off with a flurry of activity in March.

Araluen will also present a number of touring exhibitions during the year, starting with Clay Stories, a touring exhibition of contemporary ceramics from a diverse from of artists such as Ernabella Arts and the Hermannsburg Potters. The Maruku Arts on Anangu story, law and culture exhibition as told through intricate punu carvings, artworks and artefacts; and Fecund: Fertile Worlds, an exhibition curated by Katherine based Clare Armitage will round out the year, alongside Kristian Laemmle-Ruff’s Woomera, and Michael Cook’s nationally celebrated Undiscovered.

SOUNDS OF SILENCE SILVER ANNIVERSARY
The Red Centre’s award-winning Sounds of Silence dinner experience will notch up 25 years of operation this March. To celebrate, the team at Voyages Ayres Rock Resort are hosting a star-studded sunset event followed by a three-course bush tucker dinner on March 21.

To plan your Top End or Red Centre adventure visit: northernterritory.com.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Ten Tips for Canada Travels in 2018



With Australian visitation to Canada rising exponentially each year, more Aussies than ever are expected to make 2018 the year they explore this diverse North American country. Read on for our top ten tips for planning bucket-list adventures in Canada this year.
  • Don't be fooled by unauthorised websites when you apply for your electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA). Use the official website to register for an eTA at a cost of $7 CAD. Beware of 'scam' websites charging up to $122 USD for the application. Australian citizens require an electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) before flying to Canada.
  • Peak tourist months in Canada are July and August, when flights and accommodation are more expensive. Consider travelling outside peak season during autumn for spectacular foliage in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, or winter and early spring for the ultimate winter wonderland.
  • Heading to Whistler? Make sure you experience the epic Peak 2 Peak Gondola and the new Peak Suspension Bridge, the tallest in North America, for mind-blowing panoramic views in every season. If you're there during winter, spend a day skiing or snowboarding with an Olympian, learning expert techniques, and hearing their stories of success. 
  • Head to the Maritime province of New Brunswick to witness the highest tides in the world at the incredible Bay of Fundy. Walk the ocean floor during low tide at the Hopewell Rocks or abseil down cliffs into the bay at Cape Enrage. Jump on a zodiac with Red Rock Adventure for a memorable Fundy Trail Tour, where you'll explore the longest stretch of coastal wilderness on the eastern seaboard, meeting seals and porpoises along the way.
  • For a true 'bragging rights' experience, road trippers can now drive the road made famous through the Ice Road Truckers television series. The 137-kilometre Tuktoyaktuk Winter Road, two hours from Inuvik in Canada's Northwest Territories, forms part of the famous Dempster Highway, allowing travellers to drive all the way from Whitehorse, in Yukon Territory, to the Arctic Circle in Northwest Territories on a sealed bitumen road, rather than sheets of ice!
  • Discover Banff Tours is now offering small group tours taking travellers from Vancouver to Banff and vice versa. This is a great option for those who catch the Rocky Mountaineer one way and would prefer to drive back rather than fly. It's also ideal for those wishing to explore the Rockies by road. The tour includes lunch in Revelstoke and accommodation at the Plaza Hotel in Kamloops. 
  • Who wants to stay in a conventional hotel when you can bed down in a house boat? From May 2018, visitors to Canada's capital city of Ottawa in Ontario can cruise the Rideau Canal on a state-of-the-art Horizon cruiser by Le Boat. Glide effortlessly through the charming downtown precinct, enjoying tranquil views of Parliament Hill the rolling green banks.
  • EdgeWalk at the CN Tower in Toronto holds the Guinness World Record for the “Highest External Walk on a Building” at 116 storeys high. This is an epic bucket-list attraction for thrill-seekers.
  • Visiting the east coast during summer? Get to know the salt-of-the-earth characters of Newfoundland and Labrador during the George Street Festivalfrom 26 July - 1 August 2018. George Street has been a magnet for musicians for decades and is famous for comprising two blocks of bars, pubs, restaurants – and nothing else.
  • If you're travelling to the US east coast, consider a road trip to Quebec. Make the 500-kilometre journey from Boston to Montreal via the picturesque Eastern Townships for an authentic French-Canadian experience. We're talking sparkling lakes, wineries, and chocolatiers, where the welcoming locals speak their native French.

GETTING THERE

Air Canada offers daily direct flights to Vancouver from Sydney and Brisbane. Additionally, Air Canada will commence year-round direct flights from Melbourne to Vancouver from June 2018. Direct flights from Sydney to Vancouver are also available on Qantas.

www.keepexploring.com.au

Thursday, February 1, 2018

How to rub shoulders with Manitoba's famous residents



They're dazzling, beautiful and permanently trending on social media.

Manitoba's famous inhabitants are household names, attracting travellers from around the world whose greatest desire is to merely stand in their presence.

Read on for the inside scoop on where to find seven of these wild celebrities. 

Polar bear: best viewing time July to November

Should you ever come face to face with these Arctic royals, you may wish to curtsy – and then back away quickly. In Churchill, you can safely view the largest land carnivore in the world from a tundra vehicle or from a fenced wilderness lodge. You can even walk among them with a guide or see them from on high during a helicopter tour.

Bison: year-round

Perhaps Manitoba's most iconic resident celebrity, the bison reflects the province's First Nations' heritage, still as relevant today as it ever was. These majestic beasts are the largest mammal in North America and can run up to 60 kilometres an hour. Riding Mountain National Park and FortWhyte Alive are ideal locations for a personal encounter with these famous giants. 

Belugas
Belugas: July – August

Hearing the beluga whales sing their sweet 'canary' chirps and whistles is a spine-tingling moment. Thousands of white beluga whales congregate each summer in the mouths of the northern Churchill and Seal Rivers that empty into Hudson Bay. Jump in a zodiac for a closer look. Better still? Swim with the belugas! They're among the friendliest of whales and are just as curious about people as you are about them. 

Canada lynx: year-round

In Riding Mountain National Park cat-lovers might just be lucky enough to spy the elusive Canada lynx. Warning – these guys are paparazzi-shy so keep the camera ready to capture its gleaming eyes and over-sized paws.
Caribou: October migration season

Witnessing a caribou migration is the stuff of dreams. As the winter begins, Manitoba's boreal woodland, coastal, and barren ground caribou embark on an epic journey across the tundra. You'll be mesmerised by this incredible wildlife spectacle and the wild beauty of these creatures, resplendent with antlers and huge, kind eyes.


Arctic Fox

Arctic fox and hare – Year-round

There is something infinitely fascinating about snow-white foxes and bunnies frolicking in the chill, blending in with their surroundings, like cotton balls dancing on ice. Despite their small size, Manitoba's cutest creatures are widely sought after for their photogenic qualities. They're found year-round, but their coats only turn white when the snow begins to fall.
Bald eagle: May to September

Here's a tip for bird-loving travellers on the look out for the regal bald eagle: stay close to the water. The famous white feathered heads of the bald eagle will most commonly be spotted swooping near the rivers and lakes in search of fish. Try Whiteshell Provincial Park, Riding Mountain National Park or Pembina Valley Provincial Park.

Getting there

Air Canada has daily direct flights from Sydney and Brisbane to Vancouver, with connecting services to Winnipeg. Alternatively, VIA Rail, the national Canadian rail service runs from Vancouver to Winnipeg. The two-day journey spans British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan before reaching the Manitoba, the heart of Canada.

www.travelmanitoba.com

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Top tips for exploring Australia


This Australia Day highlights for some of the best domestic journeys that showcase our sunburnt country. Choose between the Twelve Apostles Eco Walk, the Bay of Fires walk and the Arkaba Wilderness Safari.

Twelve Apostles Eco Walk

Experience the iconic Great Ocean Road and traverse the most picturesque sections of the Great Ocean Walk with expert guides. This six-day journey allows you to witness the stunning diversity of flora and fauna amongst the rock pillars of the Twelve Apostles. Travellers will meet like-minded hikers at the eco-chic walking lodge and have daily walking itineraries tailored to their particular needs. Meander through tunnels of forests, climb up ridges and feast your eyes on rewarding coastal views. There will be scenic locations for picnic lunches, as well as a 10-minute scenic helicopter flight over the Apostles. Return to Melbourne and relax with a private tour to the Yarra Valley – Victoria's premier wine region.

Bay of Fires & Beyond

Tasmania offers plenty for the active traveller and this journey kicks off with a round of golf at on of the world's top golf destinations: Barnbougle. Enjoy 18 holes with cart hire at The Dunes, rated #2 golf course in Australia and #11 in the world, this course has been designed to emulate the courses of Scotland and Ireland. Next venture to the East Coast – one of Tasmania's most breathtakingly beautiful locations. Pristine beaches, bushland and coastal wilderness provide the backdrop to this well-paced and varied walking tour. A range of accommodation from an ecologically-designed lodge set in outstanding coastal wilderness to the luxurious modern comforts of a picturesque country estate brings each day's activities to a delightfully comfortable conclusion. Gourmet meals prepared by expert guides are another highlight.

Arkaba Wilderness Safari

Combine a professionally guided outback hiking adventure with the natural beauty of Kangaroo Island. The luxury hike offers both deluxe swag camping under the stars and gracious hospitality at renowned Arkaba Station Homestead. Your guide and camp assistant will prepare a three-course alfresco camp dinner.  Walks, which include a section of the famous Heysen Trail, are graded moderate to challenging, and your luggage is transferred by vehicle between camps: you carry only your lunch, snacks and water. Afterwards, reward yourself with a luxury two-night stay at Southern Ocean Lodge with the opportunity to explore Kangaroo Island - the Galapagos of Australia. The 21-suite escape features an environmentally-sensitive design, eco-chic interiors, premium lodge facilities, personal service, contemporary dining and a signature space retreat. You'll also discover the magnificent coastal scenery and abundant wildlife for which the Island is renowned. It's the ultimate fusion of nature and luxury.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

10 travel hacks every solo traveller should know

#lonelyplanet



You’re bound to make mistakes on your first solo trip, but you can learn from previous travellers. Monica Stott, founder of thetravelhack.com, has learned a fair bit. Here she shares her top ten hacks.

Order special meals on planes

Pre-order a special meal, such as a vegetarian or vegan meal, on flights. Special meals are served first so you’ll get your food faster, allowing you to nod off sooner than your seatmates if you’re keen to get some rest. The vegan meals are usually healthy, light and delicious, which helps you to avoid that groggy, bloated, post-flight feeling that tends to be a by-product of indulging in a rich plane meal.

Dress up for airport check-in

Did you know that solo travellers are more likely to get upgraded on flights? You’re also more likely to be upgraded if you look the part, so wear the smartest clothes you’re travelling with to the airport (you can always pack a more comfortable set of clothes in your hand luggage to change into after you check in). It’s also worth asking at check-in if any upgrade opportunities are available. While it is more difficult to score upgrades these days unless you’re a frequent flyer, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

Use airport lounges

Airport lounges aren’t just for first class passengers; you can often buy yourself into them for a bargain. In the UK, airport lounge passes start from around £25 and include perks such as unlimited snacks and alcohol, wi-fi, magazines, and a quiet and comfortable space to relax before your flight. Using lounges during long layovers offers particularly good value, as it doesn’t typically cost much more than you’d spend on food and drink elsewhere in the airport.

Pack a portable charger

You’ll undoubtedly use your phone a lot while you travel, so pack a portable charger. Make sure to have a way to contact someone in an emergency, and use your phone’s GPS for directions. Portable chargers are cheap and lightweight and you’ll thank yourself when you’re trying to call a taxi at 3am with only 2% battery remaining!

Disguise your gadgets

Flashy new devices with crisp, clean cases attract thieves, which is the last thing you want when you’re travelling solo. Avoid unwanted attention by making your expensive gadgets look less pricey than they really are – cover your camera in stickers, and buy cheap cases for your smartphone and your tablet and scuff them up.

Mark your baggage as fragile

Slap a 'fragile' label on your luggage to prevent it from being handled roughly in transit. Adding this label will typically also see your luggage delivered to the baggage carousel - it's often the case that special luggage and equipment is the last to be placed in the aircraft's hold, which means it will be the first to be taken out again.

Always carry a business card from your hotel

As soon as you arrive at your hotel or hostel, grab a business card from the reception desk with the hotel's address and phone number. If you get lost, you can jump in a taxi and give the card to your driver to ensure you get back to your hotel safely. If a business card isn't available, ask a member of reception staff if they could write down the address in the local language for you. Make sure to then keep the information somewhere handy when you head out to explore.

Travel with an unlocked mobile phone

If you have a contract phone, ensure it is unlocked before you travel. This means you’ll be able to use any SIM card from any mobile network across the world. Pick up a local SIM once you arrive and you’ll avoid roaming fees and enjoy cheaper calls and texts – you can find SIM cards at the airport and convenience stores in touristy areas.

Keep your travel essentials in your suitcase at home

Adopt this travel hack if you’re a frequent traveller and don’t want to forget those all-important essentials. When you return from a trip, leave key items in your suitcase. Items such as your passport, plug adaptors, miniature toiletries and insurance documents can stay in your case because you won’t need them at home, and leaving them in your case means you’ll never forget to pack them.

Use free walking tours to help you ease into a new city

Most cities have free walking tours, and these tend to attract other solo travellers. Solos usually stick together once the tour is over and go for drinks or dinner together, so it’s a great opportunity to meet like-minded travellers while simultaneously avoiding the anxiety of dining alone on your first night in town.

Extract from The Solo Travel Handbook

To find out more and get top tips for travelling solo, visit www.lonelyplanet.com/explore-every-day.




Lonely Planet’s Solo Travel Handbook

Published January 2018 / 168pp, full colour / H210 x W165mm, paperback / AUD $29.99

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Where to Scuba Dive in NSW



With more than 2,000 kilometres of stunning coastline, NSW has an abundance of impressive scuba diving spots. Dive with sea turtle in warm tropical waters in the Tweed region, discover the world’s most southerly coral reef at Lord Howe Island, and swim with seals at Montague Island on the South Coast. NSW has many licenced dive operators that offer dive training courses, dives, tours and equipment hire. Dive sites up to 18 metres are good for beginners and up to 40 metres are recommended for advanced divers.

Sydney sites:

Shelly Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches near Manly is a great beach dive, perfect for beginners, and is home to giant cuttlefish, wobbegongs and weedy sea dragons.

For experienced divers, The Leap in Botany Bay National Park at Kurnell is a thrilling shore dive that includes a 22-metre drop-off, populated with boulders and overhangs, some of the clearest water in Sydney, large schools of fish, lots of seahorses and some magic swim throughs.

Bare Island in Botany Bay (pic above) is a popular dive site for beginners; you might spot sea dragons, gropers and turtles in shallow water of between seven and 12 metres

Gordon's Bay near Clovelly is an underwater 600-metre nature trail marked by a chain connected to concrete-filled drums. There are information signs along the way as well as friendly gropers. 

Shelley Beach (diveplanit)
 
Up the Coast:

Broughton Island near Port Stephens has several spectacular dive sites. The popular Looking Glass is a narrow channel through the centre of the island that opens up into a natural fishbowl. Look for large rays, blue groper, red morwong, bullseye and bream. Nearby at Nelson Bay, the main feature of the Fly Point-Halifax Park Aquatic Reserve is a 100-metre sponge-covered ledge with schools of bream, nannygai and blue groper.

The Solitary Islands Marine Park in Coffs Harbour is home to a unique mix of more than 550 fish, 90 corals and 600 molluscs.

South West Rocks on the North Coast is home to Fish Rock Cave, running 125 metres through Fish Rock, teeming with sea life including black cod, black rays and giant cuttlefish.

At Byron Bay, in the Cape Byron Marine Park, Julian Rocks Marine Reserve is often ranked as one of Australia’s top dive sites with its fish, turtles, eagle rays and corals. During the Winter, whale song can be heard underwater.

Lord Howe Island is one of the best dive locations in the world with over 60 dive sites. The most spectacular is Ball’s Pyramid, where advanced divers can go on drift and cave dives, and follow a coral wall. Expect to see massive schools of violet sweep, amberjack, kingfish, silver drummer, rainbow runners, trevally and occasionally marlin, dolphins and wahoo.

The island’s shallow lagoon is great for snorkelers, novice divers and underwater photographers keen to see anemone, lionfish, slipper crayfish, the rare Coleman’s pigmy seahorse, spotted snake eel and beaked leatherjacket.

Down the Coast:

Jervis Bay, on the NSW South Coast, is a Marine Park with more than 20 shore and boat dive sites. The area has an abundance of kelp beds, large boulders, small caves, drop-offs, shear coral walls, sponge gardens, ship and plane wrecks, and swim throughs. Between May and October, you can dive with seals.

Bass Point, at the southern end of Shellharbour, is a marine aquatic reserve and one of the South Coast’s dive and snorkel hot spots. Good for beginners.

Off the coast of Narooma, Montague Island Nature Reserve is renowned for its 1,600-strong seal colony. You’ll also see stingrays, bull rays, blue gropers and wobbegongs. Divers can expect water visibility of between 20-30 metres year round, and it’s also a great place to see humpback whales heading south to Antarctica in October.
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