Inspiring Vacations Magazine - January/February 2021

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TAILOR-MADE SRI LANKA

Cities to suit your travel tastes

SOUTHERN COMFORT

Embrace a summer in Tasmania

FIVE OF THE BEST

Unmissable train rides

ROAD TRIPPIN'

Tour Victoria's best producers

Inspiring Vacations JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021

CHILL ZONE Must-do New Zealand experiences, from walking on glaciers to stargazing and more


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FROM THE CEO

WELCOME To our Inspiring Vacations customers and community, Happy New Year and welcome to the January and February issue of Inspiring Vacations Magazine! We’ve said farewell to 2020, and hello to 2021! We are excited with the opportunities and adventures that this year will bring and we hope you are, too. To kick off the New Year - a year we’re sure will be filled with travel and adventure - we jump aboard some of the world's most epic train rides, discover the best ways to spend a glorious summer in Tasmania before visiting fabulous Sri Lanka, and closer to home, New Zealand. It’s time to get back out there and discover the world, so we’ve got just the inspiration you need.

Don't forget to sign up to gain exclusive magazine access and please tag #inspiringvacations when posting your travel pics on social media - you’ll have the chance to win a $100 e-gift card if you do! Congratulations to this issue’s winner, Noels Pullan. As always, please get in touch to share your thoughts – your feedback is very important to us! You can email us at magazine@ inspiringvacations.com or phone 1300 88 66 88. Stay safe and see you in the next issue!

Paul Ryan CEO

CONTENTS 03

WHAT’S ON January/February events, online and offline

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C OVE R I M AG E : F RA N Z J OS E F G L AC I E R, S O U T H I S L A N D, N E W Z E A L A N D ; M I L E S H O L D E N

IN THE KNOW Travel news from around the world

12 16 22

ROAD TRIP Victoria’s gourmet trail

HOLIDAY AT HOME Must-do New Zealand experiences

GLOBETROTTER Tailor-made Sri Lanka: cities to suit your travel tastes

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Q&A We chat to Sylvia Longmire from Spin the Globe

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Art Directors Julie Lee & Richard Lee

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Contributors Emily Humphrey Marketing Julia Reymond, Douglas Hind

UNDERRATED TRAVEL 8 ways to embrace a Tassie in summer

Editor Vanessa Mulquiney

5 OF THE BEST Epic train rides

INSPIRING VACATIONS MAGAZINE

ARMCHAIR TRAVELLER A visit to the Great Wall

Advertising Cameron Hunt

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22

Contact For editorial and advertising enquiries, please email magazine@ inspiringvacations.com or phone 1300 88 66 88 (AU)

When you see this symbol on our pages, press play and you’ll be redirected to our beautiful destination videos.

Inspiring Vacations Magazine is published bimonthly by Inspiring Vacations (ABN 22 623 610 711), Level 2, 420 St Kilda Rd Melbourne VIC 3004. © 2021. All rights reserved. Articles express the opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of Inspiring Vacations.

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CALENDAR

WHAT’S ON C H I NA

No matter where you are in the world, there’s plenty of events - both online and offline - to enjoy

SYDNEY 6-26 January

SY D N E Y

To celebrate the New Year, SydFest 2021 plans to recover and reconnect communities and reinvigorate Australia’s arts with memorable experiences that ignite and excite the city.

Ring in the new year (again) and celebrate the Year of the Ox with China’s most important festival.

I TA LY

ICELAND

MELBOURNE 8 - 21 February Over two adrenaline-charged weeks, Melbourne will play host to the world’s top tennis players for the much-loved Australian Open.

ITALY 30 Jan - 16 Feb Dating back to 1094, the Venice Carnival includes a series of open-air public events as well as extravagant masked balls and private parties. ICELAND TASMANIA

February

5-7 February Enjoy the very best food, drink and entertainment Tassie has to offer in three fun-filled days at Festivale on Launceston’s fringe.

MELBOURNE

PHOTOS: SYDFEST; AUSOPEN/FACEBOOK; FESTIVALETAS/FACEBOOK; SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

CHINA

CHINA 12 February

Still in the midst of its winter but with most of the harsh weather passed, February is one of the best times to spot the elusive Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) in Iceland. INSPIRINGVACATIONS.COM 3


GET SOCIAL

LIKE. FOLLOW. SHARE. We love our customers sharing their travel photos and memories with us! Use #InspiringVacations when posting your photos on social media and you could appear on this page and be in the running to win a $100 gift card!

RUNNERS UP

WINNER

We had an incredible time in Sri Lanka! This photo was taken at Minneriya National Park where we had been looking for elephants for a while then the guide spotted them! It was absolutely awesome to see so many of them; the feeling was overwhelming! @NoelsPullan

This photo of the majestic Taj Mahal in Agra was taken on a cool February afternoon last year. As we gazed at this lasting memorial to the power of love, we realised dreams do come true. @womanwandersworld

This photo was taken from the doorway of our hotel room in Chilaw. Sri Lanka is an amazing country that has so much to offer - the people, food and natural highlights will stay with us forever. @TanyaGraham

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TRAVEL NEWS

IN THE KNOW What to see, do and where to play

FROM GHOST TOWN TO ECO-TOURISM DESTINATION An abandoned town in Western Australia, once the centre of the colony’s pearling industry, is being re-envisioned as the government looks to turn it into an environmentally-minded destination for tourists. Cossack, 1480km north of Perth, lists ‘low cost camping including tents, caravans and cabins’ as well as ‘high-quality eco-tourist accommodation such as deluxe camping or glamping with eco-tent and cabin style facilities’ on its registration of interest document.

RENT A PRIVATE ISLAND FOR A YEAR If you’ve ever dreamed of having your very own island, now’s your chance. China’s north-eastern province, Liaoning, boasts some 633 islands and with over 500 unoccupied, now you can make one your own. Depending on the potential to develop, the existence of wildlife and whether it has beaches, from just $535 a year, you can send your plans to the government and get ready to live the island high life!

A NEW LUXURY SIGHTSEEING TRAIN IN JAPAN

AUSTRALIA WINS AWARD FOR ‘COMMUNITY RESTORATION’ Recognising the significant work done to rebuild communities and preserve wildlife after last summer’s devastating bushfires, Australia has been awarded a Community Restoration award in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel awards. “That spirit of resilience has really endured as recovery efforts have continued, despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is heartening that this has been recognised as part of these awards,” says Tourism Australia Managing Director, Philippa Harrison. Well done, Oz!

You can now take a sightseeing journey across Kyushu in Japan onboard a new luxury train called 36+3. The southern island is a nature lover's dream, with hot springs, mountains, hikes and scenic lookouts just some of the incredible locations the train takes you to over five different routes. The sleek train has been designed with luxury in mind, combining modern and traditional Japanese elements. Book now so you don’t miss out! jrkyushu-36plus3.jp

THE BEST SLUMBER OF YOUR LIFE This brand-new treehouse accommodation in Norway is everyone's childhood dream realised. Overlooking the stunning Hardanger Fjord near the town of Odda, the Woodnest Treehouse is owned by husband and wife team, Sally and Kjartan Aano, who turned their shared dream of living in a treehouse into a business. The two spaces are just 15 square metres and sleep up to four people, with electricity, under-floor heating, showers, WiFi and a kitchenette among the luxurious features. wwoodnest.no

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FIVE FIVEOF OFTHE THEBEST BEST

Shinkansen Japan’s world-renowned bullet train connects the country’s three main islands and the scenery is superb, whether it’s a sea of cherry blossom blooms or snow-capped Mount Fuji. The iconic bullet train is not only ultra-modern, notoriously punctual and fun to ride, it’s quite simply the most efficient way to zip around: we’re talking Osaka to Himeji in under an hour. View our tours here.

Epic

TRAIN JOURNEYS From Canada and Japan, to Australia and Sri Lanka seeing a country by train is as fun as it sounds WORDS BY

EMILY HUMPHREY

Bernina Express Imagine a four-hour meander through magnificent alpine scenery across the Swiss Engadin Alps, before descending to Tirano in sunny Italy. On this UNESCO-listed historic railway line, the Bernina Express negotiates 55 tunnels, 196 bridges and steep inclines with ease, reaching its highest point at 2253 metres above sea level. From snow to palm trees, the modern panoramic cars make it easy to soak up the postcard–perfect views. View our tours here.

The Ghan

Kandy-Ella This much-Instagrammed route takes in the vistas of central Sri Lanka, with stunning green, lush tea plantations and misty mountain peaks. The charming hill country town of Nuwara Eliya is a popular stop on the way. Sit in air-conditioned first class or squeeze into a bustling thirdclass carriage with open doors and windows; passengers love hanging out of the train! Hope you’re not in a rush – it doesn’t always run to the timetable, it’s all part of the charm. View our tours here.

The romance of train travel meets Australia’s Red Centre: The Ghan is a grand, iconic journey between Adelaide, Alice Springs and Darwin. Onboard you’ll find (all-inclusive) sumptuous dining, elegant private cabins and attentive service. You’ll even have your own butler. Fancy. The magic continues with off-train excursions – cruise the jaw-dropping Nitmiluk Gorge on the Katherine River, or dine under the stars at the Alice Springs Telegraph Station, an outback icon. View our tours here.

Rocky Mountaineer Oh, Canada! This historic train journey is the best way to experience the rugged beauty of the Canadian Rockies. The Rocky Mountaineer is a refined, luxurious experience that sets off from Vancouver with a few different route options – stops might include Whistler or Banff. Food (breakfast and lunch), surroundings and service are top notch. No sleeper cars here; you’ll sleep in hotels at night. View our tours here.

INSPIRINGVACATIONS.COM 7


8 WAYS to embrace a

TASSIE SUMMER

W

There are bubbles to be sipped, adventures to be had and no time to waste on your next trip to Tasmania

arm balmy days, long lingering evenings, good company and serious fun all combine into a season for throwing caution to the wind. Follow these eight must-dos for a summer in Tasmania you'll never forget.

1

STAY IN A SEASIDE VILLAGE

A small town with a streetscape trapped in time and views over Bass Strait from a volcanic plug, the small fishing village of Stanley on Tasmania's

8 INSPIRING VACATIONS MAGAZINE | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021

north-west coast is a great escape. Let a few days drift by at The Retreat, a private waterfront hideaway for two. Stroll to collect fresh crays from the wharf and gather crusty bread, Tasmanian cheeses and a bottle of vino from the local Providore 24. Enjoy by the water's edge or take your picnic supplies to Stanley's higher ground and conquer The Nut. Nearby, Osborne Heli Tours will fly you over the Tarkine, Australia's largest tract of temperate rainforest.


UNDERRATED TRAVEL TASMANIA

2

CAMP UNDER THE STARS

If the only stars you like to sleep under are five stars, then why not add a million more and enjoy the best of both worlds? Mix safari tents, pillowy queen-size beds dressed in Egyptian cotton and, of course, those amazing southern stars with Wingtons Glamping. Explore one of Tasmania's most unique coastlines at the Bay of Fires Bush Retreat where a comfy futon and fresh food awaits you after a day of discovery. Or experience the rugged southwest in style with flights, guided tours, catering and glamping courtesy of Par Avion's Southwest Luxury Wilderness Camp.

3

JOIN A CARNIVAL OF CREATIVITY

With the belief that ‘magic happens in far-flung places‘, Ten Days on the Island (March 5-21), a regional art festival spread across Tasmania, delves into the minds of local artists, exposing a collision of the island's diverse creative expression. Prepare for opera, a Bosnian folk music singing sensation, storytelling, live orchestra and physical theatre acrobatics. With the spotlight still firmly on Tasmanian artists, this year the festival has been extended across three weekends, so you can see even more.

STORY & IMAGES SUPPLIED BY TOURISM TASMANIA. PHOTOS: JASON CHARLES HILL; ADAM GIBSON; EMILIE RISTEVSKI; ROB BURNETT.

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MAIN: Satellite Island; TOP TO BOTTOM: Bathurst Harbour; Barrel Room in Moorilla; Overlooking Stanley; Stanley Farm beauty.

EXPLORE BY ROAD, SEA OR AIR

You haven't seen Tassie until you've explored some of its more remote and unique wonderlands. Catch the ferry from Triabunna to Maria Island for a 25 km e-biking adventure with Tasmanian eBike Adventures. History, wildlife and fascinating stories aplenty reward those willing to make the effort. Bathurst Harbour on Tasmania's wild South West Cape is nature at its most spectacular and raw. With no roads in or out, the Harbour is best explored by plane or boat, where you'll discover wilderness and wildlife unlike anything you've ever seen before.

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INSPIRED TO VISIT TASMANIA? Check out our tours here

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GET WILD IN THE WEST

6

HAVE AN ENTIRE ISLAND TO YOURSELF

7

HUNT NATURE'S TREASURES

8

ENJOY A DROP

You can't beat a good road trip, and Tasmania's west coast will provide you with many a story to bring home as it reveals something new to stop and see around every bend. Covering the full diversity of the Tasmanian landscape, you'll see everything from age-old rainforest and waterfalls to mirrored alpine lakes and the dramatic mountains of the highlands, finishing at the pristine beaches of the state's north west. Stop and chat with the friendly locals, find your new favourite drop and take hundreds of photos to show your friends back home. This is one drive you'll never want to end.

It's not just movie stars that hire out entire islands. And Tassie islands aren't your average affair. There are islands where you can shuck your own oysters straight from the rock shelf, like Satellite Island. You'll feel the Roaring Forties winds cleansing every ounce of stress at Three Hummock Island. Or, park yourself at Picnic Island where the clear waters of Tasmania's east coast are yours to paddle from your front door.

Rumour has it that every seven years, hundreds of paper nautilus shells wash up on Flinders Island. Thinner than a sheet of paper, it's rare to find one undamaged. Life on the island follows a relaxed rhythm, so there's no need to rush here. Get chatting to a local, and they just might know where those shells wash up.

There are over 120 whisky distilleries in Australia, with over 20 of those in Tasmania alone. Then there's the boutique cideries and craft breweries seemingly popping up around every bend, not to mention the many cool climate wineries and small-batch gin distilleries. There are plenty of opportunities for you to raise a glass in good company. Meet the makers, learn about the processes and sample directly from the hand that crafted them. INSPIRINGVACATIONS.COM 9


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Hit the GOURMET TRAIL From local producers to much-loved culinary icons, regional Victoria serves up something for every taste WORDS BY EMILY HUMPHREY & VISIT VICTORIA

1

Port Fairy Uncover history in every corner of this winsome fishing village at the end of the Great Ocean Road. The last destination on Victoria's famed Shipwreck Coast, Port Fairy boasts wide streets lined with 19th-century cottages, great Norfolk pines and old stone churches. It’s a lovely place for a stroll, whether it’s a bushwalk at Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve or a walk along the wharf and around Griffiths Island – a haven for short-tailed shearwaters, or mutton birds, in summer. Try to see them at sunset.

MAIN: Port Fairy beach; CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Lunch at Northern Ground; Taking in the view at Lightfoot & Sons Winery; Passing Clouds station; Johnny Baker's, Castlemaine; Lake House chef with a fresh catch; The Lake House; beer time at Noodledoof Brewing Co. in Koroit.

In a place steeped in the charm of yesteryear, it’s no wonder that the mostloved eateries are old stalwarts: Merrijig Kitchen (located in Victoria’s oldest inn, with a cosy ambience) is a local institution, with a daily-changing menu based on local produce and their own kitchen garden. Local restaurateurs Ryan and Kirstyn Sessions, known for their celebrated, two-hatted fine dining restaurant Fen that closed in 2018, now run ‘fast foodie’ gem Randy’s Burgers – soft shell crab burger, anyone? Meanwhile, Fen is now operating in a series of monthly pop-ups at Port Fairy’s boutique accommodation Drift House, with select dates in March available to book as part of a package. Shaw River Buffalo Cheese, a local favourite on menus around here, is a family business in nearby Yambuk. Its yoghurt and cheeses are made from the only 100% pure Riverine Buffalo herd in Australia. Stop by the farmers market (second and fourth Saturday each month) for local homemade, grown or created goods. You’ll find some of these delights from local producers on the menu at Le Crêpe Man of Belfast, a relative newcomer that’s settled in well. When it’s time for a tipple, head to craft brewery Noodledoof Brewing Co. in Koroit, a stone’s throw from Port Fairy.


ROAD TRIP VICTORIA

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Castlemaine This heritage town boasts many grand relics of its glory days in the mid-19th century as a gold rush town. Now, these beautiful buildings are home to the makers, artists and producers that have put this town on the map for its art, culture and culinary talent. The Mill complex, on the site of the old Castlemaine Woollen Mill, is bursting with creative endeavour in each of its three precincts – food, artisan and vintage – from furniture makers and metal craftsmen to upcycled goods, an artisan chocolaterie and craft beers and cider on tap. A visit to the Boomtown Winery Co-op makes it easy to see why the town has earned the wry moniker Northcote North. It’s a little bit hipster, in the best way. At micro-roastery Coffee Basics, Das Kaffeehaus feels like a Viennese coffee house, serving up house-made apfelstrudel with, of course, coffee freshly

roasted on site with over 60 years of family tradition and skill. Pick up some honey from sixthgeneration beekeepers at McDonald Honey, a few km out of town. If you can’t make it there to leave your money in the honesty box, they’re also stocked in outlets around town under the Castlemaine Honey label. Remember when country pubs had drive-through bottle shops? Well, these days you can grab an almond croissant from Johnny Baker, the small patisserie at the back of the Northern Arts Hotel with two drive-through lanes. Their danishes and tarte tatins are topped with local fruit, whether it’s from nearby Mt Alexander Organic Fruit Farm or customers’ backyard trees. Oh, and this former country pub is now a beautiful guesthouse.

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Daylesford Out here in spa country, Daylesford’s flourishing food and wine scene and idyllic landscapes make it a weekender favourite for the city crowd. This proud gourmet region is home to enduring Victorian icons like the Lake House, a celebrated restaurant that also includes accommodation, a day spa and cooking school. The Sunday market at the railway station serves up the usual eclectic bric a brac, craft and antiques, plus a farmers market section where you can pick up artisan sourdough bread from Two Fold Bakehouse or a refreshing drop from Daylesford Cider, made using English heritage cider apples grown organically on their property. Catch the heritage train to Passing Clouds winery, in the nearby village of Musk, for their

la famiglia-style lunch or a tasting at the cellar door. There are plenty of opportunities to get amongst it with small growers and local producers. At Spring Hill Peony Farm, a sprawling 28-hectare farm between Daylesford and Kyneton, you can pick your own blooms during the much-awaited, but short-lived, peony season in late November. Jonai Farms & Meatsmiths, self-described ethicurean farmers who butcher, cook and cure on farm, run workshops, including salami days in winter. Ten minutes north of Daylesford lies Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm, where you can explore the grounds, take a tour of the original homestead and enjoy lavender-inspired dishes in the trattoria.

4

Bairnsdale Set along the wide, slow-flowing banks of the Mitchell River, Bairnsdale is a town of rich heritage and the gateway to Gippsland’s natural beauties. See firsthand the thriving creative community at East Gippsland Art Gallery, wander the shops and find some local treasures or head down INSPIRINGVACATIONS.COM 11


ROAD TRIP VICTORIA

BUY FROM THE BUSH

to Mitchell River for a walk along the banks. Gippsland’s fertile area is known as a ‘food bowl’ boasting a bounty of delectable produce, so it’s little wonder you’ll find earnest food venues with a strong affinity for the local grub: try lunch at Northern Ground or dinner at The Loft, in a converted late-1800s stable. David Lucke’s Fresh Food Market is a great spot to fill the esky with locally sourced produce to create some fantastic meals at home. The Main Hotel is the oldest pub in town but it’s been given new life by its young owner, a baker by trade, and patrons are delighted with quality pub meals of generous proportions. At family-owned boutique winery Lightfoot & Sons, relax on the deck with the views over a glass of pinot noir or chardonnay and a Taste of East Gippsland platter – think Maffra cheese and Seasalt sourdough.

5

Rutherglen Discover the taste of history with a fresh palate in Rutherglen and take in stunning gold rush streetscapes, explore the surrounding vineyards, and enjoy outdoor fun in the nearby lakes and rivers. Join the Pedal to Produce cycle trail to sample the very best wine, fruit and produce at local orchards and wineries. The Rutherglen leg melds the town’s rich history and personality with farm-fresh produce and world-class wine. No need to lug your bike up there – you can hire at the Rutherglen Wine Experience (there are even two tandem bikes). Visitors won't go thirsty in this important wine region, home to world-beating fortified wines, robust reds and crisp white wines since the early 1800s. Pedal To Produce is an easy ride that can be done in less than an hour and a half, but it’s likely you’ll want to take your time

tasting your way through this luscious part of high country. At Jones Winery and Vineyard, you’ll find fifth-generation winemaker Mandy Jones crafting fine drops from grapes grown by her brother, Arthur. The restaurant here has a distinct French country kitchen vibe; open for lunch Thursday to Sunday. Not a cyclist? Visit revitalised cellar doors including All Saints Estate, Morris of Rutherglen and Campbells Wines and meet fourth and fifth generation winemakers drawing on family tradition and modern techniques to keep Rutherglen on the map.

6 Mansfield Uncover a nature lover's paradise in Mansfield and soak up the stunning Alpine scenery. Options are plentiful for adventurous travellers. Gallop from the summit of nearby Mount Buller to relive moments from The Man from Snowy River, making sure to stop by Craig’s Hut atop Mt Stirling. Enjoy boating or fishing at Lake Eildon or go cycling along Delatite River Trail. With a wide selection of cafes and fine dining opportunities, settle in and discover the local culinary scene. From farm gates, like Howes Creek Farm for boutique smallgoods and charcuterie products, to hip eateries like The Fields and craft beer at Social Bandit Brewing Co, all bases are covered. Find superb local coffee – try Mansfield Coffee Merchant for a seriously good brew – and visit regional vineyards that produce rich, weighty chardonnay, crisp riesling and superb sparkling wine from Ros Ritchie Wines and Delatite Winery. There’s plenty of room to gindulge around here, too. Swiftcrest Distillery is a small family operation set on a very sustainable, zero-waste, 120-acre farm that is completely off-grid. Their stills are heated by a wood-fired steam boiler using deadfall timber gathered on the property. High quality, artisan spirits are made using organic and biodynamic ingredients sourced from local farmers. Stop in for a (prebooked) distillery tour.

12 INSPIRING VACATIONS MAGAZINE | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021

WEYHILL FARM You’ll always have Australian garlic on hand with this dehydrated garlic grown on a family-owned farm in Ranceby, South Gippsland. They also make a range of garlic salts with their farm-grown herbs, preserved in pure Australian sea salt. GOORAMADDA OLIVES With a slew of awards to its name, this Rutherglen olive grove offers a superb tasting experience with its estate-grown extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) and other gourmet items. The online shop is the next best thing and even ships other local goodies, like cheese and honey. LONG LANE CAPERS Grown on about 200 acres on the flats of Broken River near Mansfield, these capers are hand-picked and preserved in Murray River salt. Do try to make it to their farm in Victorian high country to pick your own capers one day, the season runs from December until March. THE COTTAGE HERBALIST Caroline Parker blends tea and plant medicine from a home studio in the Wombat State Forest. Choose from an array of blended tea and tisanes to boost wellbeing, with names like Soothe and Love Potion. CABOSSE AND FEVE CHOCOLATES Husband and wife team Thomas Vandaele and Freya Schellhorn produce handcrafted, small-batch chocolates from their Castlemaine kitchen and shop, while ensuring that farmers are paid fairly for their beans. Plenty of vegan options here. TRUFFLE PADDOCK An affordable luxury, this extensive range of truffle products contain real French black winter truffles sourced either from their Gippsland farm, or elsewhere in Australia. In addition to sauces, oil, dressings, salts and honeys available yearround, you can order fresh truffles in winter.

PHOTOS: VISIT VICTORIA

LEFT: Jones Winery & Vineyard

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zealand experiences From north to south, New Zealand offers an endless expanse of diverse, unforgettable experiences

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rom subtropical Cape Reinga in the far north to the southern fishing port of Bluff where the wild Southern Ocean rolls in, New Zealand’s North and South islands offer a diverse expanse of landscapes. From coastal paradise to mountains and the southern ocean, New Zealand’s South Island unveils one majestic landscape after another. Beginning in the coastal paradise that is Nelson Tasman and the Marlborough Sounds and ending in Southland, the vast southern regions unfold as the real Middle-earth of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. In New Zealand, every day is a different journey.

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16 INSPIRING VACATIONS MAGAZINE | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021


HOLIDAY AT HOME NEW ZEALAND

1 FILM TOURISM It's no secret that New Zealand is the home of Middle-earth and its stunning landscapes are at centre stage for movie buffs world-wide. Filmed entirely in New Zealand, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies film locations can be discovered in many parts. The most famous, and most visited, is Hobbiton – the village home of the hobbits – near Matamata, in the Hamilton Waikato region of the North Island. The Hobbiton film set occupies a sizable slice of a New Zealand farm, and is one of the largest outdoor film sets in the world. Visitors to Hobbiton experience a two-hour fully-guided tour of the village hearing about the books and behind-the-scenes stories of film-making. 2 MAORI CULTURE Rotorua has been visited by tourists since the early 19th century making it New Zealand’s oldest tourism destination – renowned for Maori cultural experiences and spectacular geothermal attractions. Maori culture and history infuse Rotorua life. The town of Rotorua, on the shores of Lake Rotorua, is home to the Te Arawa iwi - one of New Zealand’s larger Maori tribes. A third of Rotorua's population is Maori. Te Puia, an important Maori culture centre, has visitor experiences covering traditional art forms, carving and weaving, storytelling, and authentic cultural performances.

forgotten with the Old Ghost Road track on the South Island’s West Coast waiting to test the most competent of riders. 5 RECREATIONAL SPORTS New Zealand is a hub for many popular recreational activities and offers some world class experiences and facilities. Golf courses can be seen everywhere in New Zealand, and in fact only one other country has more courses per capita. World-class courses like Cape Kidnappers (Hawke’s Bay), Kauri Cliffs (Northland) and Jack’s Point (Queenstown) to name a few, provide unique, unforgettable golf in stunning environments. New Zealand’s lakes and rivers are great spots to land your first trout and the coastal waters are a fisherman’s playground. Blue cod await in the South Island, while the Northland region is a popular game-fishing destination.

PREVIOUS PAGE: Aoraki Mackenzie is a gold-rated dark sky reserve CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Bay of Islands; Franz Josef Glacier; Mahurangi Oysters; The Awatere Valley, Marlborough is home to some of the world's best Sauv Blanc; INSET: Southern Brown Kiwi

3 FOOD & WINE New Zealand has some of the best quality food and wine in the world. Marlborough, on the top of the South Island, is the country’s biggest wine region and world renowned for its sauvignon blanc. In the lower South Island, the Central Otago region is known for its incredible pinot noir. The North Island’s Hawke’s Bay region produces beautiful syrah while nearby Martinborough has a reputation for fine reds. Waiheke Island, in Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour, was named on Lonely Planet’s top regions to visit in 2016. Throughout New Zealand fresh seafood, artisan products and incredible farmer’s markets are always nearby. Whether it is manuka honey or oysters, the food in New Zealand is an incredible experience in itself.

CYCLING Nga Haerenga or The New Zealand Cycle Trail is a network of fantastic, well maintained trails catering to beginner and expert cyclists. Cycling is a popular New Zealand sport, and there are many destinations that offer visitors a chance to get to know the real New Zealand fresh air, wildlife and songbirds, tasty regional fare and friendly locals. From the challenging Alps 2 Ocean trail (the longest of the trails) to the leisurely Tasman Great Taste’s Trail there is something for everyone. Serious mountain bikers aren’t 4

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7 NATURE & ECOTOURISM Recognised for its clean and green environment, New Zealand is a rich combination of beautiful landscapes; from vast mountain chains to grand volcanoes, sweeping coasts and deep fjords, lush rainforests, grassy plains, rich thermal areas and expansive beaches. The wilderness of Stewart Island, the country’s third-largest island, offers one of the best chances to spot New Zealand’s national bird, the kiwi, in its natural habitat. With 400 full-time residents, Stewart Island is sparsely populated in human terms but add in an estimated 20,000 Stewart Island brown kiwi - just one of the many native bird species living on the island - and birds outnumber humans many times over. Walking on a West Coast glacier is a New Zealand must-do for visitors. The Franz Josef is a glacier located on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. The glacier is 12km long and, together with Fox Glacier which lies 20km to the south, it is unique as it descends from the mountains to just 240 metres above sea level. The area surrounding the two glaciers is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

6 WALKING/ HIKING Much like the New Zealand Great Rides, there is an equally spectacular Great Walks network. Energetic hikers can discover glacier-carved valleys and traverse mountain passes, while more sedate day-walkers can explore golden beaches, bush walks and other sites of scenic, historic and cultural interest. Nine walks currently make up the Great Walks network and they can be found all over the country. Popular tracks include Milford Track, The Kepler, The Routeburn and the Tongariro Northern Circuit. In addition to the multi day walks there are popular day walks such as the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and the Pouakai Crossing both located in the central North Island.

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PHOTOS: NORTHLAND ADVENTURE HQ; FRASER CLEMENTS; MAHURANGI OYSTERS; HARVEPINO/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM; DEAN MCKENZIE; IAN BRODIE;; ANNADALE.COM

Auckland is known as the ‘city of sails’ and the sheltered waters of the Waitemata Harbour make it an ideal location for sailing. Visit one of the many islands around Auckland including Waiheke. Four hours’ drive north of Auckland is the Bay of Islands, a beautiful sub-tropical destination with more than 140 islands waiting to be discovered.

8 AVIATION One of the best ways to see New Zealand is from the sky and there are plenty of opportunities for a bit of ‘flight seeing’. Auckland Seaplanes offer an exciting trip to Waiheke Island, taking off from Wynyard Wharf in downtown Auckland and landing in gorgeous Man O’ War Bay after a flight over the Waitemata Harbour. The Man O’ War vineyard awaits offering a first-class wine-tasting experience and a spot of lunch before returning to Auckland. Over the Top Helicopters, based in Queenstown, have several memorable experiences. Whether it’s golf on the side of a mountain, a glacier landing or a picnic on a peak, Over The Top will make it happen.


HOLIDAY AT HOME NEW ZEALAND

9 LUXURY & ROMANCE Luxury and romance go hand in hand and New Zealand has got both covered. Seascape – an ultra-modern luxury retreat in a private seaside setting – sets a new standard in utterly romantic getaways. Constructed in glass, stone and turf to blend into the wild coastal landscape, this intimate award-winning villa has been unashamedly designed and furnished for romance. The jewel in the crown of the Annandale Farm Escape & Luxury Villa collection, Seascape is located on Banks Peninsula in New Zealand’s South Island. Wharekauhau Country Estate, on a 5000-acre working sheep station overlooking Palliser Bay, in the Wairarapa north of Wellington is a great example of Edwardian grandeur. The view of the dramatic coastline is undoubtedly exclusive to New Zealand. Exploring nature, soft adventure (horse trekking, archery, clay bird shooting, golf) and indulging in food and wine, spas and quiet relaxation attract

TOP: Lake Pukaki, Mount Cook; BOTTOM: Hobbiton, Waikato; RIGHT: Seascape at Annandale on Banks Peninsula

visitors to Wharekauhau and, best of all, it’s only 15 minutes by helicopter from Wellington. 10 STARGAZING In the Mackenzie Basin, nestled in the foothills of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, where the stars twinkle brightly in a crystal-clear night sky that makes the heavens appear closer to earth, astrotourism is booming. The skies above the surrounding region, which includes the country’s highest peak Aoraki Mt Cook, have been officially declared a gold-rated International Dark Sky Reserve. Covering 4300sq km over Aoraki (Mount Cook) National Park and the Mackenzie Basin, the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve forms the world’s largest such reserve. Star features to look out for include the Southern Cross and the Magellanic Clouds, and satellite galaxies to the Milky Way that are only visible in the southern hemisphere.

WATCH TRAVELMARVEL’S HIGHLIGHTS OF NEW ZEALAND TRAVEL SPREE PRESENTATION HERE PPRREESSSS P AYY PL LA

Luxury and romance go hand in hand and New Zealand has got both covered.

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SRI LANKA

Tailor-made

From architecture, food, nature, and more, Sri Lanka has a city (or two) to suit your travel tastes WORDS BY KRISTY BARRATT

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GLOBETROTTER SRI LANKA

MAIN: Tea plantation landscape; TOP: The Galle Lighthouse; BOTTOM: Sri Lankan leopard at Yala National Park

IF YOU LIKE HISTORY, YOU’LL LOVE KANDY The beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site of Kandy teems with history; it was, in fact, the last capital of the ancient kings’ era of Sri Lanka. The hilltop town is surrounded by looming mountains making it the perfect jumping-off point to also explore the nearby verdant green tea plantations. Before you hit the hills though, be sure to visit ageold temples such as the Buddhist Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic with its stunning architecture and take a relaxed walk around the town’s pretty lake. If you love your tea, a visit to the Ceylon Tea Museum could be up your alley.

ri Lanka, like neighbouring India, offers a feast for all five senses. Here are several ideas on how to travel this exotic country to suit your passions. IF YOU LIKE COLONIAL ARCHITECTURE, YOU’LL LOVE GALLE Galle is one of the most attractive yet underrated gems of Sri Lanka. The seaside town on the country’s west coast has it all: fantastic food, a charming old town, world-class beaches nearby and interesting Dutch-colonial buildings to snap your camera at. The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Galle Fort dates back to the 16th century and walking through the age-old streets is a wonderful blend of old and new. There are luxe boutiques (visit The Three by TPV for homewares), divine seafood eats (The Fort Printers restaurant is housed in a converted 18th-century mansion) and on the first Sunday of every month, the Galle Fort Flea Market takes place. IF YOU LIKE HIKING, YOU’LL LOVE THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada) is a gruelling trek up a 2,243 m mountain in the lush Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. It’s not for the faint-hearted as it includes hiking up almost 6,000 crumbling steps, but if you’re a fan of outdoorsy hikes you’ll love it. It’s also a celebrated place of pilgrimage among several religions so the hike can get busy with locals and tourists alike in peak season. The best time to climb is from January to May and most climbers make their ascent in the middle of the night in order to make it to the peak for sunrise.

IF YOU LIKE BEACHES, YOU’LL LOVE UNAWATUNA Unawatuna is a picturesque region in southern Sri Lanka where palm trees dot the shoreline, the sand is a beautiful white and the sea is a translucent aquamarine. The enchanting and renowned image of Sri Lankan fishermen perched atop rickety old sticks is a common sight in this part of the country, and Galle is just 6km away, so you can be rest assured there is lots to do if for some reason you get tired of beachcombing. The area has plenty of quaint guest houses to rest your head at as well as luxe villas. Some of the best beaches in the area to visit are Dalawella Beach (be sure to visit Wijaya Beach Restaurant) and Mihiripenna Beach.

No visit to Sri Lanka is complete without a stay amid the rolling landscape of the tea plantations WATCH OUR

SRI LANKA VIDEOS HERE P R E S S P L AY P R E S S P L AY

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GLOBETROTTER GLOBETROTTER SOUTH SRI LANKA AFRICA

sights to see, restaurants to visit and nightlife to uncover. Add a visit to Galle Face Green on your to-do list; the five-hectare seaside urban park offers a nice walk and a chance to people watch. For dinner head to the super stylish Nihonbashi restaurant, which is run by a Japanese-Sri Lankan chef-restaurateur.

INSPIRED TO VISIT SRI LANKA? Check out our tours here

IF YOU LIKE NATURE, YOU’LL LOVE THE BOGAWANTALAWA VALLEY No visit to Sri Lanka is complete without a stay amid the vibrant green pincushion hills and the rolling landscape of the tea plantations – and the lush Bogawantalawa Valley offers the perfect place to experience them. Called the ‘Golden Valley of Tea’ and located in the Central Highlands region, the valley has a wonderful selection of luxury hotels and tea estates to explore. At the luxury Ceylon Tea Trails, the world’s first tea plantation hotel, you can wander the grounds then take a daily tour with a resident tea planter who will demonstrate the age-old tea making process. IF YOU LIKE BIG CITIES, YOU’LL LOVE COLOMBO The largest city in Sri Lanka dances to the beat of its own drum. Tuk-tuks roam the streets, occasional snake charmers wander through local parks, and Western cyclists tour the city on a bike. There’s never a dull moment with attractions and 24 INSPIRING VACATIONS MAGAZINE | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021

TOP: View from Adam's Peak LEFT: Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic RIGHT: Stick fishermen in Unawatuna BOTTOM: Uludo Wade and Esso Vadei street food in Colombo

IF YOU LIKE FOOD, YOU’LL LOVE THE ENTIRE COUNTRY From roti and rice to seafood, street food and mutton curries, Sri Lanka serves up a culinary feast when it comes to its foodie scene. No matter what part of the country you find yourself in, you will have endless options up your sleeve to choose from, be it a fine dining venue in a heritage-style hotel in Galle, street food in Kandy, or a white fish curry served at a quaint local guesthouse by the coast and made with the likes of green chillies, mustard, turmeric and coconut. If you love the street food scene be sure to sample some samosas; Saravita, a sweet treat wrapped in betel leaves; a fresh coconut; and hoppers – a pancake bowl served with eggs in the morning or curry in the evening.

PHOTOS: ANTON GVOZDIKOV/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM; TIMO GOTZ/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM; ONDREJ PROSICKY/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM; DUDAREV MIKHAIL/ SHUTTERSTOCK.COM;VAL SHEVCHENKO/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM; DON MAMMOSER/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM; RACHA RACHAD/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

IF YOU LIKE WILDLIFE, YOU’LL LOVE YALA NATIONAL PARK Leopards, elephants and crocodiles, oh my. Yala National Park is Sri Lanka’s most famous national park which was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1900. Today wildlife lovers from far and wide travel to the 1,268 square kilometre park to get a glimpse of the Panthera pardus kotiya, an elusive leopard endemic to Sri Lanka. The park is also home to 44 varieties of mammals and 215 bird species, including sloths, jackals and spotted deer, so there’s no shortage of amazing wildlife encounters awaiting you here. You can even camp nearby in a luxury bush camp by the river. Bliss.


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INTERVIEW

Q &A

WATCH OUR EGYPT VIDEOS HERE

Meet Egyptian tour leader, Ahmed Samir

NAME AHMED SAMIR OCCUPATION TOUR LEADER COUNTRY EGYPT

Can you tell us about yourself? My name is Ahmed and I was born and raised in Cairo. I’ve been a guide for 15 years, and I chose this job because I love ancient history and civilisations. My areas of expertise are history, archaeology, and the language of ancient Egypt. Q

Q What’s your favourite thing about being a tour guide? It would have to be meeting new people from different cultural and social backgrounds. I also love travelling myself to enrich my experiences in life. Travelling has helped me to improve my skills, broaden my vision and learn more about the people that I guide.

INSPIRED Q What has been your most TO VISIT EGYPT? memorable moment as a guide? Check out our tours here It's hard to say since I have had many! If I had to pick, it would be the look in the eyes of travellers as they take in the beauty and magic of my country, and when they wish they could stay longer after seeing and learning about the 'real' Egypt. Q Which Egyptian attraction do you never tire of showing visitors? Abu Simbel temples without a doubt. 26 INSPIRING VACATIONS MAGAZINE | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021

P R E S S P L AY P R E S S P L AY

Q What is your number one tip for first-time visitors to Egypt? Don't ignore the modern history of Egypt – it's as important and beautiful as its ancient history. Q

What are some of your Egypt tips for visitors?

Must-see gem: Mosques and mausoleums at City of the Dead. Must eat: An Egyptian meal called koshari. People should try it at Abu Tarek in downtown Cairo. Must drink: Sugarcane juice. Must-buy souvenir: Egypt offers a lot of souvenirs which have been produced for a long time, and many families still make them - Egyptian cotton, papyrus paintings, essential oils from Aswan which are extracted from local flowers twice a year, and so on.


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ARMCHAIR TRAVELLER A visit to the Great Wall

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

T H E G R E AT WA L L , C H I N A. P H OTO : S O N G Q UA N D E N G / S H U TT E RSTO C K.C O M

Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher and writer

WATCH OUR CHINA VIDEOS HERE P R E S S P L AY P R E S S P L AY

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