Monday, December 26, 2022

Saving Victoria's Little Desert: Walkabout Magazine Oct 1969


It is more progressive, go ahead, and vote catching to start something new than to rejuvenate the old.

Man has given the mallee fowl two efficient predators in the fox and the feral cat. Now it has added a third and more deadly one-the State Government. 

Two quotations from the stream of protest letters that have poured into the letter columns of Melbourne's daily newspapers about the Victorian Government's plan to develop part of the Little Desert in Western Victoria.

The letters were sometimes inflammatory ramblings, often considered opinions by experts, such as agricultural economists, farm consultants and conservationists. They condemned almost without exception, the plan proposed by the State Minister for Lands, Sir William McDonald, to open up 200,000 acres and build $600,000 worth of access roads, and the Cabinet-approved modified plan for a pilot scheme of 48,000 acres of farms.

The full scheme or the stage one version are equally unacceptable, even allowing for Sir William McDonald's decision to set aside 80,000 acres of the most arid area of the desert. The Minister has emphasised that this will ensure the protection of the mallee fowl, but the habitats and environment of the Little Desert vary and many of the 140 species of birds, nineteen native mammals, twenty-four reptiles and about 600 native species of flora cannot be found within the 80,000 acres.

He has spoken further of demand for the land and of the benefits of decentralisation, farm employment and progress. How much better if the money of the Government and affluent farmers was used to improve existing agricultural land which is farmed below its potential efficiency and capacity, rather than put into land which experts regard, at best, as marginal.

This might be considered a local issue. But it has national significance. People need natural landscapes they need a balance of peace and refreshment and to preserve the richness and dignity of the human environment as much as they need affluence, industrial strength and the amenities of civilisation.

The loss of the character of the Australian environment must cause a decline in the richness of community life. The Governments which have watched over and fostered an era of un- precedented industrial and urban expansion must also be prepared to strike a realistic balance -to cater for less tangible, but just as real, needs of the people with an expanded and enlightened approach to preservation of the Australian environment.

The stir over the Little Desert is a warning to governments that the goals of national progress can not be disassociated from the needs of the people for whom the progress is sought.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Top Tips for a Happy (Hassle-Free) Holiday with Kids this Christmas

From not over-scheduling to letting the little things go, psychologist Dr Happy, Oaks Hotels, Resorts & Suites’ Resident Happiness Expert, shares his advice

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Enchanting Winter Solstice Scenes in the Yukon, Canada

Winter solstice in the Yukon heralds a night when the north turns nocturnal. With show-stopping northern lights, glittering snow-drenched forests, and unique northern wildlife, locals and visitors alike welcome the snowy season with open arms (covered in layers of flannel).

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Elder House


The Currie street building, begun in 1937, replaced a much smaller Elder Smith and Co. Ltd office built in 1888. The architect for the new building was Walter Hervey Bagot and its façade echoed that of a Renaissance palazzo. [more]

Silversea returns to ocean sailing in Australia after more than 1,000 days

Silversea’s Silver Muse arrived in Fremantle on Saturday 10 December, marking Silversea’s return to ocean sailing in Australian waters.  

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Urrbrae House - Adelaide

Figures prominent in the business and pastoral life of South Australia are linked with Urrbrae situated at the base of the foothills overlooking Adelaide. Nowadays, its associations are with education and research. As the Waite Agricultural Research Institute, it is an integral part of the Faculty of Agricultural Science at the University of Adelaide. On adjoining land is the Urrbrae Agricultural High School.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Quilpie carpeted by vibrant desert flowers

L to R: James Hoch (9 yo) with Meg the kelpie puppy and Abbie Hoch (11 yo)


A colourful spectacle of yellow, pink, purple and white desert flowers are blanketing the red earth of Outback Quilpie Shire with a display that is as beautiful as it is rare.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Destination Japan: here’s what to look forward to in 2023

Recently reopened JR Tadami Line. Credit Kenko Hoshi


Travel to Japan is open again for Australians – resuming just in time for the autumn and winter seasons. Japan remains a firm favourite amongst Australian travellers with the country one of the fastest-growing overseas destinations for Australians before the pandemic.

Monday, December 5, 2022

The Philippines’ Best Travel Experiences in 2023


Dryft Camp, El Nido


Referred to as the 'Pearl of the Orient', this archipelago in Southeast Asia has so much to offer to those looking to find a slice of tropical escapism. Sometimes overlooked for its neighbouring counterparts, the 7000+ island nation of the Philippines, nestled beautifully between the Pacific Ocean and South China Sea, offers intrepid travellers a bbevvyof experiences.

As 2022 draws to a close and travellers look ahead to 2023 (and what will probably be the freest year of travel since the start of the pandemic) here's a guide to the latest happenings in the Philippines.

The hottest accommodation offerings

Admiral Hotel Manila MGallery is ready to welcome guests to the Filipino capital. The country's first MGallery property, the hotel features a beautiful blend of modern Filipino-Spanish and Art Deco design, honouring the building's former legacy as an iconic and historical pre-war hotel and social hub. Set along Roxas Boulevard, the hotel is a perfect boutique option located on the city's famous waterfront promenade near various iconic landmarks including the historic Intramuros precinct.

Dryft Camp is a one-of-a-kind glamping island adventure in the north of El Nido. This eco-friendly glamping camp is located on a remote island only a 45-minute shuttle ride from El Nido town and a 20-minute boat ride from the mainland of Teneguiban. Truly a private paradise, all-inclusive meals consist of healthy local island cuisine served in a 4-story treehouse.

All glamping huts are built and designed by local artists entirely from native and recycled materials. With long private white beaches, clear blue waters, and vibrant coral reefs, this secluded part of the Palawan archipelago is home to pristine islands, blonde beaches, sea caves, deserted coves, and soaring limestone cliffs – and there's barely another tourist in sight.

Amanpulo has a new guest adventure, The Golden South Sea Pearl Journey. Guests can enjoy a bird's-eye view of the Palawan waters guests on a 45-minute flight to the Jewelmer pearl farm at Malotamban Island in Taytay, Palawan. Here, guests will see rare gold-lipped oysters that produce golden pearls, as well as witness local divers on their daily trip to the underwater farm. After the comprehensive tour, a speedboat takes guests to a nearby secluded beach for a Filipino-style picnic lunch and snorkelling adventure.

Fun and frivolous events and festivals

The Sinulog Festival returns to Cebu in full force after a pandemic hiatus. Held the third weekend in January, the festival sees up to 2 million visitors flood the streets for nine days of revelry, the event culminating with the Grand Parade which is celebrated with dancing, music, and beauty pageants. Sinulog is well-known for its Mardi Gras-like street parties which draw in partygoers from all over the country and the world.


The Sinulog Festival returns to Cebu


The Philippines' Wanderland Festival has confirmed the dates for its 2023 comeback. March 4 and 5 will see the music festival return to the Filinvest City Event Grounds in Alabang, Manila for its first edition since 2019. A line-up for Wanderland 2023 has yet to be announced, but it was headlined in 2019 by Two Door Cinema Club and The Kooks and featured a diverse range of regional and international acts including Honne, SG Lewis, Clairo, Adoy, Mac Ayres, Charlie Lim and Clara Benin.

Cultural and foodie adventures

Star Filipino chef Charles Montañez has revamped the slick Alegria Manila. Still sticking to its signature 16-course tasting menu, the restaurant, which specialises in Filipino and Latin American dishes cooked in South American techniques, has been reimagined in a cool new uptown BGC spot. Meanwhile, sister venue, Alegria Cantina, which just opened in June, is the chef's new brash two-story restaurant that dishes up a more casual take on Montañez's signature cuisine.


Elote (grilled corn, chipotle mayo, and furikake) at Alegria Manila


Local lifestyle website Best of Bicol has launched a 4-day food tour of the region. Aside from being home to the perfectly shaped Mayon Volcano and other stunning tourist spots, Bicol, located in the southern section of the Philippines' Luzon Island, has earned culinary fame across the country thanks to the distinct use of coconut and chillies. This foodie tour gives a taste of some of the region's most popular dishes including the Bicol Express, a coconut-based stew made of pork chunks, chilli, and shrimp paste.

Museo de Intramuros has opened at Intramuros. Also known as the Walled City,  Intramuros is one of the most historic sites in Manila. The seat of power during the Spanish Period, the area was heavily devastated during the infamous Battle of Manila. To share more about this past, the Intramuros Administration has opened Museo de Intramuros at the reconstructed San Ignacio Church. It houses over 500 religious artefacts found in old churches near and around Intramuros.


Museo de Intramuros has opened at Intramuros, Manila


Tours of boutique tea plantation and farm Yamang Bukid in Puerto Princesa have launched. Yamang Bukid started as a small tea business just outside the Palawan city of Puerto Princesa, gradually expanding to occupy 20 hectares of land and employing over 300 farmers. The plantation's recently launched tours showcase the farm's most famous product, turmeric tea, as well as papaya, strawberries, sunflowers, and other medicinal plants.

Source: Philippine Department of Tourism Australia & New Zealand


Preserving the Churning of the Sea of Milk gallery at Angkor Wat

World Monuments Fund has focused on preserving the Churning of the Sea of Milk gallery by reinstating the roof's ancient drainage system using appropriate materials and methods. 

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Visit The Eromanga Natural History Museum

The Eromanga Natural History Museum (ENHM) is home to Australia’s largest dinosaur (Australotitan cooperensis) aka Cooper, and is renowned globally for discovering a new dinosaur species which was scientifically recognised in 2021.

Saturday, October 15, 2022

The Most Picturesque Places in the Great American West

Mission Mountains: photo credit Western Montana's Glacier Country

The Great American West is an awe-inspiring region of the USA including the beautiful states of Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Now the world is open to travel once more, excitement is building and plans are being made by Aussies and Kiwis to head to this 'Big Dream' destination.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Queensland Goldrush: Where you can find gold


Australia’s new gold rush is here, as requests for fossicking permits increase in record numbers and post-pandemic demand for gold continues to go from strength to strength – analysts predict the sector is set to grow at a compound average rate of 3.5 per cent between 2021 and 2025.

Monday, October 3, 2022

Scuba Diving Adventures in Koh Lanta Thailand

Koh Lanta is situated in the South Andaman Sea and offers some of the best dive sites in Thailand that are suitable for both beginners and advanced divers. 

Friday, September 30, 2022

A Brief History of Woomera, South Australia

Woomera Test Site - Dept of Defence

In the late 1940s following World War II, Britain's long-range weapons program required a large area to serve as a test range. Areas in Canada and Wales were considered, but eventually, the vast central Australian desert was chosen as the most suitable site as it was virtually unpopulated. As a result, the Long-Range Weapons Establishment (Woomera Rocket Range) was established on April 1, 1947. The name "Woomera" was chosen because it is the Aboriginal word for spear-launcher on April 24, 1947.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Where can you find forest bathing with hotels around Asia?

While a relaxing soak in a deep tub is sine qua non for any luxury hotel stay, there's another kind of bathing that is making its way into resort lexicon – forest bathing. Hotels are rolling out experiences where guests absorb nature-like sponges. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Kingfisher Bay Resort serves up traditional bush tucker

 When you tell someone your story about Fraser Island, you can bet they’re expecting to hear about your heroic exploits in a 4WD on the sand dunes or driving along the beach highway, but Queensland’s UNESCO-listed sand island has much more to say.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Soak up the NSW Sapphire Coast

 What to see and do 

Beautiful beaches abound on the Sapphire Coast, but for a particularly memorable swimming or snorkelling experience, Bermagui's Blue Pool is a natural rock pool that lies at the base of a dramatic rocky cliff face. You can also go kayaking on the beautiful Bega River with Coastlife or go game fishing with Headland Fishing charters in Merimbula. Further south, Eden is a paradise for whale watching — get up close to bouncy cetaceans with Cat Balou Cruises, which runs regular trips during peak season from September to mid-November.  

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

True Australian Outback in Broken Hill


Travel to the furthest reaches of western NSW to Broken Hill, about a 13-hour drive or 2.5-hour flight from Sydney, to explore a town of contrasts and unexpected discoveries. Founded as a frontier mining town, Broken Hill has evolved as an eclectic destination of artistic creativity. Its ochre rocks and national parks have been home to ancient Aboriginal storytelling for millennia. In this jewel of the outback and Australia's first heritage-listed city, feel a million miles away and connect with its seemingly endless earth.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Travelling to Italy in 2022

I'm so looking forward to boarding my Singapore Airlines flight and heading for Rome in the middle of April.  We have three tours scheduled in May (Sardinia; Naples and Campania; and Sicily) but first I'll be re-walking a couple of our self-guided walks, starting with the Amalfi Coast (yeh!).

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Celebrating Chinese New Year around SE Asia



Banyan Tree Samui

Visitors to Koh Samui can ease into this Lunar New Year with a rejuvenating massage and treatment at Banyan Tree Spa. Throughout the month of February, this luxury venue, which includes a state-of-the-art hydrotherapy facility, is offering a 90-minute Purposeful Therapy for Two for 8,888 THB per couple (reduced from 12,000 THB). The promotion also includes one complimentary Wellbeing Sanctuary activity and a 25% discount on selected purchases at The Gallery, an onsite boutique. 

For reservations:

Relaxing with a massage treatment at Banyan Tree Spa Samui

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The historic Norwood Institute, Adelaide

Norwood Institute, Norwood Parade | Flickr User denisbin

A Norwood and Stepney Institute was formed in 1855 by a group that met in a schoolroom in Beulah Road, Norwood. Lectures were soon advertised and a library of 200 books organised.

The following year a different group met in Mr Barrow's old chapel in Kensington for a similar purpose and proposed an amalgamation with the other group.

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