FIVE OF THE BEST
Apps to keep you connected
Meet Plate of Origin winners
ISLAND DREAMING A visit to Cook Islands
TRAVEL INSIDER What to see, do & where to play
Inspiring Vacations NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
INTO THE BLUE Exploring the Great Barrier Reef
KIMBERLEY DISCOVERY BY LAND AND SEA Breathtaking 21 day escape with cruise, quality accommodation and more
$14,999 Per person, twin share INCLUSIONS › 10 nights accommodation including 2 nights at the idyllic Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa › 10 night small ship expedition Kimberley Coast cruise
Discover the magnificent Kimberley region with this spectacular land and sea package. Enjoy a local cruise down the Ord River from Lake Argyle to witness the setting sun in Kununurra; support local Aboriginal artists with a visit to Mangkaja Gallery; cruise the famed Kimberley Coast on a Coral Cruises small expedition ship and more.
› Daily breakfast, 11 lunches and 19 dinners › Luxury coach transportation › Experienced Travel Director, Driver Guides and Expert Expedition Leaders › Plus more!
Travel from Jul 2021 to Aug 2022
ALSO AVAILABLE: 4 day 3 Capes & &Tasman ALSO AVAILABLE: 4 day Three Capes TasmanPeninsula PeninsulaTrek Trek INCLUSIONS › 3 nights quality accommodation › Return group transfer from Hobart › 3 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 3 dinners › 3 hour Wilderness Cruise and guided walks › Small group of 10 or less
Travel from Jan 2021 to Dec 2021
$2,150 Per person, twin share Deposit $100
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FROM THE CEO
WELCOME To our Inspiring Vacations’ customers and community,
magazine access and please tag #inspiringvacations on your social media travel photos for the chance to win a $100 e-gift card! 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. Happy reading, enjoy the festive season, and see you in the next issue in 2021.
Welcome to our bumper November/ December issue of Inspiring Vacations magazine! I hope you enjoyed our last issue and are eager to see what we have in store for you this month. There’s a lot to like inside the following pages! We dive into the rich history of Tennant Creek; take you under the turquoise waters to the famed Great Barrier Reef, and introduce you to Plate of Origin winners, Team Greece – opa! Don't forget to sign up to gain exclusive
Paul Ryan CEO
WHAT’S ON November/December events, online and offline
05 07 08 10 12 16 20 24
IN THE KNOW All the travel news you need to know
INSPIRING VACATIONS MAGAZINE Editor Vanessa Mulquiney
Art Directors Julie Lee & Richard Lee Contributors Emily Humphrey, Tom Pattinson
COVER IMAGE: SNORKELLING AT PUMPKIN ISLAND CREDIT: TOURISM AND EVENTS QUEENSLAND
5 OF THE BEST Apps to help you stay connected MEET AND GREET Plate of Origin winners, Team Greece
Contact For editorial and advertising enquiries, please email magazine@ inspiringvacations.com or phone 1300 88 66 88 (AU)
UNDERRATED TRAVEL A visit to Tennant Creek
ISLAND HOPPER The Cook Islands
HOLIDAY AT HOME The Great Barrier Reef
Marketing Julia Reymond
GLOBETROTTER Wine & Dine: the Perfect Pairing
Q&A Jason deCaires Taylor Sculptor, Great Barrier Reef Underwater Museum
ARMCHAIR TRAVELLER A visit to Kruger National Park
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Inspiring Vacations Magazine is published bimonthly by Inspiring Vacations (ABN 22 623 610 711), Level 2, 420 St Kilda Rd Melbourne VIC 3004. © 2020. All rights reserved. Articles express the opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of Inspiring Vacations.
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WHAT’S ON No matter where you are in the world, there’s plenty of events - both online and offline - to enjoy
JAPAN 8-22 November The Grand Sumo Tournament is the final of Japan’s six beloved annual honbasho (professional sumo tournaments).
PHOTOS: DIWALI UDAYADITYA BARUA ON/UNSPLASH; ANTARCTIC ICE MARATHON/FACEBOOK; ROLEX SYDNEY HOBART/FACEBOOK
Noticeably absent are adorable spectators – penguins actually don’t live this far south.
Orchard Road’s magical Christmas lights can be seen from anywhere this year, with a virtual 360-degree tour online.
ANTARCTICA 13 December
USA 4-13 December
As if heading to Antarctica wasn’t an adventure in itself, the 16th Antarctic Ice Marathon takes place less than a kilometre from the South Pole.
In its 20th year, with the motto “films worth freezing for”, the Anchorage International Film Festival features local Alaskan talent in the impressive line up.
14 November Diwali, the grand Hindu festival of lights, celebrates the triumph of good over evil.
AUSTRALIA 16 November 2020-10 January 2021 Melbourne’s beloved Myer Christmas window display will go ahead this year, but the theme is still – at the time of print – a heavily guarded secret. Rumours suggest it will be a “very Melbourne theme.”
AUSTRALIA 26 December Hopefuls in the gruelling, iconic Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race set sail from Sydney Harbour.
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!
This photo was taken at Colossi of Memmon near Luxor. I was so lucky to capture the balloon flight in the middle of the massive stone statues of Paraoh Amenhotep lll. Our Inspiring Vacation Egypt, Jordan and Israel tour was the most amazing trip we have ever done - there were jaw dropping sights at every turn. @LorraineCraig
My wife Mandy and I went to Japan for cherry blossom season in 2019. This photo is of a night market in Kyoto where the trees had been lit up - a magical feeling! @JimYoung
We were very blessed to do the 19 Day Norway Winter Wonderland in January this year. This photo was taken on the Aurora Safari optional tour. Words cannot explain just how special we felt to observe the Aurora after we crossed everything we would see it! @MichelleMonks
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IN THE KNOW What to see, do and where to play
SURVIVAL OF THE FATTEST Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve is home to the world’s densest population of brown bears – about 2,200 of them – but only one holds the illustrious title of 2020 Fat Bear Week Champion. The very well fed, well loved Earl of Avoirdupois, bear 747, will head into hibernation a triumphant winner. 12 of the park’s biggest bears are selected every year and bear fans vote online for their favourite furry oaf in the week-long, single elimination tournament.
WILL TRAVEL FOR CHOCOLATE
PHOTOS: LINDT; KATMAI NATIONAL PARK & PRESERVE/FACEBOOK; JASON DECAIRES/MOMA; PRAGUE/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
Take note, cocoa fiends: the Lindt Home of Chocolate is now open in Zurich. In a country where the art of chocolate is serious business, discover the history of this treasured national indulgence with an interactive museum, openview production line, research plant and chocolate-making classes. There is even a nine-metre-high chocolate fountain.
SEE THE WORLD…FROM YOUR LAPTOP
UNDERWATER MUSEUM OPENS The new Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA), off the coast of Townsville, is the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere. The largest underwater installation, the Coral Greenhouse is conceptualised by renowned British sculptor and environmentalist Jason deCaires Taylor, to create an artificial coral reef carefully designed to promote regeneration and rehabilitation. Stage one is now complete, with the other two sections at Palm Island and Magnetic Island to be finished by December 2021. Read our Q&A with Jason on page 24.
Amazon Explore’s new virtual tours are one-on-one travel experiences, like livestreamed cooking classes and walking tours with a local guide. Explore Prague’s Old Town Square, take a Peruvian cocktail class or learn Spanish in Costa Rica. Take screenshots for your holiday snaps and in some sessions, you can even purchase souvenirs to be shipped directly to you.
Best selling 15 day fully escorted tour with daily breakfast, sightseeing and more
KYOTO • TAKAMATSU • BEPPU • NAGASAKI • HIROSHIMA • OSAKA • KANAZAWA • MT FUJI • TOKYO
I would highly recommend Inspiring Vacations to anyone considering travelling with them.
15 days per person, twin share
$3,499 DEPOSIT JUST $250 - PAY BALANCE BEFORE YOU TRAVEL Your 15 day Inspiring Japan tour includes: 14 nights in quality hotels throughout Japan Fully escorted by professional, English-speaking guide Daily breakfast, 1 dinner Incredible sightseeing including Mount Fuji and Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
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Spectacular experiences including: Riding the iconic bullet train; taking in breath-takingly beautiful temples, shrines and castles like the UNESCO sites Fushimi Inari and the Golden Pavilion; comfortable, dedicated private transportation and a fully escorted, English speaking guide throughout. Travel from MAR to OCT 2021 SEE ONLINE FOR FULL ITINERARY DETAILS
FIVE OF THE BEST
FACEBOOK MESSENGER ROOMS
The big name in video conferencing, 2020 is the year that we learned to Zoom. Calls on the free version are capped at 40 minutes and you can even record the meeting (with the host’s permission). There’s a waiting room feature, so you can choose when to let your guests in. Virtual backgrounds can be tricky to set up but are a hoot, or just a nifty way to hide your clutter. Tired eyes? There’s a ‘touch up my appearance’ feature that does just that, for a soft-focus airbrushed effect.
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You don’t need a Facebook account to be invited to join a video call in Messenger Rooms – but let’s face it, most of us have one! Up to 50 people can squeeze into a call (eight on the desktop version), with no time limit. The idea of a ‘room’ is that people can just drop in and say hi; no scheduling calls or coordinating calendars. There are games and snazzy effects, like 360-degree backgrounds and augmented reality filters to play with – try out the bunny ears.
Firstly, you’ll need a free Google account. It’s simple to join or start a meeting and you don’t need an app although it’s handy especially if you want to access via your phone. Free meetings can last for 60 minutes, with up to 100 people. To make a grand entrance, you can see who’s already in the meeting room before you enter. Turn on the real-time captions – they’re surprisingly accurate.
Games night! Stay connected with friends and family you can’t see in a fun way. It’s a video call with a twist, no awkward silences or stilted conversation here. Choose from a host of group games – like Draw Party, Flappy Bird and Charades – and chat (or heckle) with up to seven other people while you play. Don’t knock a game of pool on your phone until you’ve tried it.
It’s no wonder Skype has become a verb for video calling. Its userfriendly interface is easy to figure out, and you’ll soon recognise that distinctive tone when someone is calling. Skype is widely compatible, including Xbox. Chat to up to 50 people, with 100 hours a month, four hours per call. You can blur the background, add emojis and even call mobiles and landlines at a fair price.
hannel 7’s newest cooking show, Plate of Origin (think the World Cup of food nations) aired in September with Team Greece bagging the $100,000 prize and Greece crowned the best cuisine in the world! We sat down with Team Greece winners and cousins, Dezi Madafferi and Penny Kerasiotis to talk food and their love of Greece.
P O A!
Q Have you always been an avid cook? D: Absolutely not. I had no idea how to cook anything apart from a toastie until I moved out of home when I got married. I was spoiled rotten and my mother did everything for me. Then it was time for me to find my feet in the kitchen, inspired by mum, Nigella Lawson and Donna Hay. P: I have always been known as ‘Penny Cakes’ by everyone, but aside from desserts, I’m also known for my pites (cheese pies).
Meet Team Greece, the winners of Plate of Origin
Q What made you decide to apply for Plate of Origin? D: I saw a post on Instagram calling for a Greek team of home cooks to apply for a new TV show - this immediately piqued my interest. After discussing it with my family, my daughter really encouraged me to apply, she said: “You have to do this Mum! You always tell us to follow our dreams.” I knew Penny would be a great teammate, I adore her, we get along so well, and her desserts are amazing! P: Dezi called to tell me we were entering! Q What’s your occupation? D: I have many part time jobs - working at my husband’s fresh fruit shop and managing the fresh cut flowers we sell. Managing Dezi Cooks, my website and Instagram account. I also work at Country Road part-time.
P: I am a self-taught baker and have my own cake shop and cafe in West Brunswick, Miss Penny Cakes.
Q During the show you represented Greece and shared your love for the country and its food – can you sum up what Greece means to you in a sentence? D: A sun-kissed summer, beach of teal blue waters, fresh and delicious food shared with family and loved ones. P: Greece will always be in my heart, but Australia will always be my home. I’m so glad to be Greek as it has so much culture, food and stunning beaches. Doesn’t matter how many times I see all the ancient ruins in Greece I still get goosebumps every time I see them. I’m very proud to be Greek and want to pass
CRISPY FRIED CALAMARI BY DEZI COOKS
MEET & GREET
Fresh crispy calamari with rocket and fennel salad. Such a beautiful dish that is flavoursome and quick to prepare!
SALAD • 100g rocket leaves • 1 large fennel WATCH DEZI • 1 lemon MAKE THIS RECIPE HERE • Olive oil P R E S S P L AY • White wine vinegar P R E S S P L AY • 3 cleaned fresh calamari (approx. 750g) • 1 cup self-raising flour • 1 cup fine semolina • 500-600ml Rice bran oil or vegetable oil for frying • Balsamic glaze
1. Prepare salad in a large bowl. Using a mandolin, finely slice the fennel. 2. Toss rocket and fennel together before adding a light drizzle of olive oil and a good splash of white wine vinegar. 3. Cut lemon wedges and set aside. 4. Place flour and semolina into a clean plastic bag. 5. With a sharp knife cut fresh calamari into 1cm wide rings. 6. Dust the calamari into the flour and semolina. Shake off any excess flour and place onto a dish. 7. Heat oil in a wok on a high to medium heat. 8. Gently place calamari into the hot oil and fry until golden on both sides (be careful as calamari may pop in the hot oil) 9. Drain onto paper towel and season lightly with salt. 10. Add fried calamari onto the salad, place lemon wedge alongside the dish. 11. Lastly drizzle the balsamic glaze in a circular motion. Optional: serve with some mayonnaise or aioli on the side.
LOVE COOKING? Follow Dezi @dezi_cooks dezicooks.com.au & Penny: @misspennycakes misspennycakes.com.au
MAIN IMAGE: The Acropolis of Athens; Dezi (L) and Penny (R) take home the first prize; Agios Ermogenis beach on Lesvos island
on all our traditions and culture to my kids (bit more than a sentence!). Q What’s your favourite place to travel in Greece? D: It would have to be the island of Lesvos, it’s so special to see my yiayia (grandmother) and extended family. Family is everything to me. P: My favourite place to go to in Greece is the Acropolis. Q For first time travellers to Greece, what is a must-visit, must-eat, must-do? D: Must-visit is Santorini for the most breathtaking view of the Caldera and sunset; must-eat is a pork souvlaki, it is simply divine; must-do is boat cruise around the island of Milos, you’ll have access to the most stunning beaches and waters unobtainable by foot or car, and it’s absolutely magical. This island is a bit of a best-kept secret. P: Must-visit is the island of Crete; must-eat is their bougatsa (a delicious custard parcel with phyllo); a must-do is allow about two weeks to visit Crete properly and see Minoan Knossos Palace. Q Where would you like to travel to in 2021? D: The Greek islands of course! P: Greece of course! I love going there to see all my family, and most importantly just sitting on the beach doing nothing.
INSPIRED TO TRAVEL TO GREECE Check out our tours here
Q What’s next for you both? D: I have launched my own seasoning range to give other families the opportunity to taste the flavours of the Mediterranean at home. I will continue sharing my delicious recipes and videos via my Instagram @dezi_cooks. Penny and I also look forward to presenting some cooking classes together and demonstrations and just sharing our passion for food with everyone. P: The cooking classes will showcase all our favourite dishes and not to mention, we’ll have some champagne, nibbles and, of course, dancing!
TENNANT CREEK TAKE OVER Discover a rich history shaped by gold mining, a strong Aboriginal culture and the Northern Territory’s original cattle kings
he friendly town of Tennant Creek, the headquarters of the Barkly Tablelands between Alice Springs and Darwin, is ready and waiting to be explored. As with most underrated travel spots, you’ll be planning your second trip before the first one is over. This is the real Australia, a vast land of brilliant blue skies, boundless horizons, remote pubs, ancient rock art and outback characters.
SEE KARLU KARLU AT SUNSET
Camp at sacred Karlu Karlu (the Devils Marbles), an hour’s drive south of Tennant Creek, where hundreds of granite boulders, some up to six metres tall, are scattered. The best times to visit are sunrise and sunset, when the morning and evening sun highlights their deep red colour. Learn about the Dreamtime story of the site on an interpretive walk or from a ranger during the cooler months.
UNDERRATED TRAVEL TENNANT CREEK
MAIN IMAGE: Devils marbles at night BELOW: Black-footed rock wallaby at the Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve; Telegraph Station at dusk
STORY SUPPLIED BY NT TOURISM. PHOTOS: JASON VAN MIERT/TOURISM NT; KARL-HEINZ HERZOG/TOURISM NT; VOLODYMYR DVORNYK/SHUTTERSTOCK
MEET LOCAL ARTISTS AT ABORIGINAL ART GALLERIES
Hear the local Warumungu legend of ‘Nyinkka’, the spiky tailed goanna that shaped the town, at the Nyinkka Nyunyu Art and Culture Centre. Then meet the clever women of Julalikari Arts, just north of the town, who welcome visitors to watch them create their art—paintings, pottery, screen-printing and sewing—using bright colours and amazing textures.
DO THE DESERT HARMONY FESTIVAL
Join in three days of music, dance, art, film, food, theatre, workshops, sports and cultural activities at the Desert Harmony Festival, held in Tennant Creek every year (31 Jul – 2 Aug 2021). The program is a mix of locally produced work that showcases the immense talent in the Barkly region, community performances and travelling Australian productions that collaborate with local artists.
VISIT THE SITE OF AUSTRALIA’S LAST GOLD RUSH
Re-live Australia’s last gold rush in the 1930s on an underground tour at the Battery Hill Mining Centre. This area was Australia’s third-largest gold producer, and the centre has Australia’s last operating ten-head gold stamp battery.
SWIM AND RELAX AT LAKE MARY ANN
Pack a picnic and take the walking track through the Honeymoon Ranges to Lake Mary Ann, where you can swim, canoe or feed the friendly ducks. The grassy reserve has barbecues,
a kids’ playground, bushwalking tracks and wildlife watching areas.
JOURNEY BACK IN TIME AT THE TELEGRAPH STATION
UNWIND IN ONE OF THE NT’S BEST-KEPT SECRETS
INSPIRED TO TRAVEL TO TENNANT CREEK? Check out our tours here
Wander around the stone buildings of the Tennant Creek Telegraph Station and get a feel for life here 140 years ago. Built in 1872, the telegraph station was part of the Overland Telegraph Line that linked Australia with the outside world. Take the self-guided walk and read about the area’s telegraph communications and pastoral history. Particularly beautiful just before sunset.
Tackle some of the NT’s best four-wheel-drive tracks in the Davenport Range National Park, one of the NT’s best-kept secrets. Spot blackfooted rock wallabies, emus and hundreds of waterbirds that flock to the permanent waterholes in the 1120 sq km reserve. It’s peaceful and beautiful, with plenty of nooks and crannies to explore.
WANDER AROUND THE PEBBLES
Visit the sacred women’s dancing site at The Pebbles, a granite rock formation just north of Tennant Creek where dancing and healing rites of the Munga Munga Dreaming take place. It’s known as ‘Kunjarra’ to the Warumungu people. Go at sunset to watch the rocks change from glowing red to deep purple to grey as the sun sets.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Culture show at Punanga Nui Market; Snorkelling underwater with coral reef fish in Rarotonga; Ladies at the Aitutaki lagoon; Aitutaki Island; Te Rua Manga landscape, also known as The Needle
REASONS to fall IN LOVE with THE COOK ISLANDS Less than a six-hour plane ride from Sydney sits one of the prettiest islands in the South Pacific
o call the Cook Islands ‘beautiful’ doesn’t seem to do it justice. Yes, you’ll find blue-jewelled water, white beaches and lush forests wrapped up in a blanket of golden sunshine. But there’s so much more to discover. The real charm lies in the less obvious drawcards - here are our top reasons why this place stands out.
12 INSPIRING VACATIONS MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
ISLAND HOPPER COOK ISLANDS
RAROTONGA PUNCHES WAY ABOVE ITS WEIGHT The archipelago’s most populous island has just over 20,000 inhabitants and a circumference of 32km – you can walk across it in half a day. Yet it draws visitors clamouring for a romantic getaway, an adventurous holiday or a relaxing week. Its easy to see why: Rarotonga has soul, and a lot of it. Home to vivid blue lagoons, sandstone churches, swaying palms, locals with exuberant smiles, a lush mountainous landscape and a bustling café and bar scene, the island offers plenty of ways to pass the time. Nestled in its heart, the Punanga Nui cultural markets draw locals and travellers alike every Saturday. Stroll on down to find fresh produce, local snacks, sarongs, pearl jewellery, artisanal crafts, live music and performances. We love the colourful handmade quilts known as Tivaevae.
YOU CAN SPEND ALL DAY IN THE WATER Aitutaki - the Cook Islands’ second mostvisited island and a 45-minute flight from Rarotonga - is known for its postcard-worthy beaches and is basically one big lagoon. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the clear waters surrounding the island may be some of
the most beautiful in the world. They’re home to a multicoloured array of hard and soft corals, tropical fish and turtles, making underwater exploration a must-do, whether it’s by swimming, snorkelling or diving. You can also spend the day above the sea, kayaking, sailing or deep-sea fishing. One of the best ways to experience the environment is on a full-day cruise stopping at the lagoon's 15 islets.
YOU’RE NEVER FAR FROM NATURE With year-round sunny weather and a tropical climate, the Cook Islands offer plenty of incentive for natural discoveries. Surrounded by a lush landscape, Wigmore’s Waterfall is popular with visitors to Rarotonga. More adventurous hikers may prefer the CrossIsland Track, a four-hour journey through untouched natural scenery that takes you to Te Rua Manga (also known as The Needle), a unique rock formation visible from across the island. If you feel like wandering off the beaten track, visit Atiu, another of the country’s 15 islands. Accessible by air from Rarotonga and known for deserted beaches, limestone caves and a population of 400 warrior people, it’s one of the few untouched places left on Earth.
WATCH THE COOK ISLANDS TOURISM TRAVEL SPREE PRESENTATION HERE P R E S S P L AY P R E S S P L AY
THE COOK ISLANDS
NO BUILDING CAN BE TALLER THAN A PALM TREE The Cook Islands are refreshingly devoid of towering mega-resorts – the rule of thumb is that no building can be taller than the palm trees. But there are plenty of accommodation styles, from five-star stays to bungalows on the edge of a lagoon to family friendly apartments. If you’re after a more traditional Polynesian experience, head to the island of Mitiaro for a homestay under a traditional thatched roof.
THERE’S NOT A FAST FOOD CHAIN IN SIGHT Eating in the islands is like a tropical dream – a continual flow of just-caught seafood and local produce that’s grown in the rich volcanic soil. Think taro, papaya, coconut, bananas and kumara. Locals prepare a lot of their dishes and seafood in the umu, also known as an earth oven. Enjoy a cocktail or two over dinner at one of the many restaurants scattered around the
14 INSPIRING VACATIONS MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
INSPIRED TO VISIT THE COOK ISLANDS? Check out our tours here
islands and watch the sunset. Be sure to try ika mata, a traditional raw fish dish that’s been cured in lime and coconut milk, and grilled mahi mahi is another great fish choice. If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, try rori - a sea cucumber which can be eaten raw or cooked with butter and spices. After dinner you may want to check out an island culture show thrown by the locals - an enticing combination of hip shaking, singing and fire.
STORY SUPPLIED BY AVRIL TREASURE/COOK ISLANDS TOURISM CORPORATION PHOTOS: SVETLANA FOOTE/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
MAIN: Aitutaki bungalows; BELOW: Seared mahi mahi
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MAIN: Diving on the Great Barrier Reef; OPPOSITE: Life thrives on the Reef; Diving with turtles; Meeting new friends
E WILD THING S
oun The wor ld te r s is teeming w i t h natural and b ’s largest coral reef system kyard est of all, it’s in our own bac
16 INSPIRING VACATIONS MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
HOLIDAY AT HOME QUEENSLAND
T HINK GREEN Help keep the ‘Great’ in the Great Barrier Reef by signing up to citizen science projects and reef research encounters. A good place to start is with a visit to Townsville’s Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s (GBRMPA) state-ofthe-art education centre. Home to the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium, the centre also manages a turtle hospital, showing first-hand how human-created problems, like marine debris, can have a fatal impact. Be sure to like their Facebook page – little ones will love their educational videos. Out on the Southern Great Barrier Reef, Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort is as close as you’ll get to a carbon-neutral model, offering behind-thescenes tours of its green infrastructure. The resort generates its own power, desalinates seawater for drinking, maintains a wastewater treatment plant, recycles and stopped selling bottled drinking water in 2012. Check out the walking trails on offer; the Eco Walking Trail incorporates the first dedicated Climate Change Trail and Tour which was developed in conjunction with GBRMPA.
BIG IS BEAUTIFUL From north to south, the wild things are hard to miss when they’re as big as whales or a hefty (up to 110kg) but inquisitive potato cod – both found in the Wild North. Down south, Lady Elliot Island stakes its claim as ‘Manta Heaven’ with good reason: PADI lists it in the Top 5 locations on the planet – alongside Hawaii, Galapagos Islands and the Maldives – to see manta rays, gentle giants with wing spans up
STORY & IMAGES SUPPLIED BY: TOURISM AND EVENTS QUEENSLAND/RIPTIDE CREATIVE
hen Sir David Attenborough says “it’s the most magical thing you ever saw in your life,” you know the Great Barrier Reef is very special. The only living organism that can be spotted from space is roughly the same size as Italy or Japan and stretches over 2,300km along the Queensland coast. These crystal clear waters, home to a treasure trove of marine life – 1625 types of fish, 133 varieties of sharks and rays, just to mention a couple – are begging to be explored (respectfully). There is nowhere else on earth like this magnificent reef system. Here, our favourite Great Barrier Reef highlights. INSPIRINGVACATIONS.COM 17
Cruise Whitsundays’ Reefsleep adventure on Hardy Reef, or pop the question on a scenic flight over Heart Reef. IT’S ABOUT THE TURTLES Coral reefs may have made the Great Barrier Reef famous, but only comprise 7% of the Marine Park and World Heritage Area, which is also punctuated by 600 continental islands, 300 coral cays and about 150 inshore mangrove islands. No bucket list adventure is complete without a turtle encounter – the reef is home to six of the world’s seven species of marine turtles after all. While Raine Island, the largest green turtle rookery on the planet (on the reef’s remote northern tip), is not accessible to the public, other popular mating and nesting sites can be found on Lady Elliot Island, Lady Musgrave Island, Heron Island, Green Island, Fitzroy Island and Bundaberg’s Mon Repos Beach (don’t miss a Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangerguided turtle encounter at Mon Repos Turtle Centre). November to March is turtle nesting and hatchling season. GBRMPA offers important tips on navigating turtle traffic as hatchlings make their against-allodds dash to the ocean.
to seven metres and the largest brain to body size ratio of any living fish. Renowned as being interactive with divers and snorkellers, mantas also perform a fascinating mating ritual known as the courtship train. A bit like an underwater conga line, males follow and mirror a female’s every move, sometimes for days at a time. Other big personalities on the reef taking their place in the Great 8 list (see sidebar) include Nemolike clown fish, 120-year-old giant clams, maori wrasse, turtles and, of course, sharks. INTO THE DEEP Unsurprisingly, scuba diving is the best way to explore the reef’s underwater wonderland up close. The father of scuba diving, Jacques Cousteau, proclaimed: “The best way to observe a fish, is to become a fish.” A big fan of the Great Barrier Reef, Cousteau named Heron Bommie (one of 16 dive sites within 15 minutes of Heron Island) among the world’s Top 10 dive locations. For keen divers, a live-aboard boat is the best option, facilitating trips to outer reefs and, for the more experienced, plummeting Coral Sea wall dives, including the opportunity to witness a live shark feed on Osprey Reef. If scuba is not your thing, try a Seawalker tour (helmet dive) off Green Island. As one of the world’s most accessible reefs, the Great Barrier Reef is also a snorkelling paradise – kit up and get out there.
LOVE IS ALL AROUND It’s not just the infamous heart-shaped reef that’s romantic around here. Coral spawning was first discovered by James Cook University researchers back in the early 1980s. An annual event which usually takes place in early summer, coral spawning occurs when polyps on the Great Barrier Reef simultaneously release sperm and egg bundles for fertilisation. Cairns-based dive operators Tusa Dive and Quicksilver’s Silverswift offer special night diving and snorkel tours around this event. If you’re looking for some romance yourself, experience
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LAND AHOY Twitchers are also in for a treat on the reef; home to 215 species of birds, including 22 nesting species of sea birds and 32 species of shorebirds. Accessible from Port Douglas, Low Isles is made up of two islands; Woody Island and Low Isle. Offering the best of both worlds, Woody Island is uninhabited apart from a large bird population, while Low Isle resembles a picture-perfect tropical island, hugged by coral reef that you can snorkel from the beach. Lady Elliot Island, Lady Musgrave Island and Heron Island (all being true coral cays or sandy islands atop the reef) offer a similar prêt-à-snorkel adventure
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Q U E E N S L A N D ’ S G R E AT 8
The answer to Africa’s Big Five is Queensland’s Great 8 – here’s where to find them.
The Great Barrier Reef is turtle central, with six of the world’s seven marine turtle species cruising through its tropical waters. Southern regions including Lady Elliot Island and Heron Island are home to turtles all year round. From November to March, Mon Repos near Bundaberg transforms into the largest loggerhead turtle rookery in the Southern Hemisphere as thousands of baby turtles hatch and make their dash for the water.
There are more than 400 species of sharks in the world, and 50 of them can be found along the Queensland coastline with the harmless white tip and black tip reef sharks commonly found on the Great Barrier Reef. Wolf Rock, three hours north of Brisbane is famous for its congregation of Grey Nurse and Leopard sharks.
Growing to two metres in length and weighing more than 100kg, these giants of the fish world are more akin to underwater puppies thanks to their curious nature. The Ribbon Reefs are a string of 10 coral reefs stretching over 160km off Port Douglas. Cod Hole is a famous dive spot at The Ribbons and the name pretty much gives it away – this is a prime location to see groups of giant potato cod.
There’s no mistaking a Maori wrasse – this distinctive fish has thick fleshy lips and such a prominent bump on its forehead that it’s sometimes known as a humphead wrasse. However, what it lacks in looks it makes up for with bucket-loads of personality. Maori wrasse love structure and can be found around the Reefworld Pontoon in the Whitsundays and the Quicksilver pontoon at Agincourt Reef off Cairns.
Australia’s eastern seaboard is affectionately known as the Humpback Highway as whales migrate throughout the region from July to November each year. Humpbacks can be spotted up nearly the entire coastline of Queensland, while the relatively unknown Dwarf Minke Whales visit the Ribbon Reefs in North Queensland for a very exclusive season from June to July.
The Great Barrier Reef is home to a variety of rays but there's no more magnificent species to meet in the wild than a manta ray. These graceful creatures have wings spanning up to seven metres – and to have one sweep within centimetres of you before gracefully somersaulting and looping away is an unforgettable experience. Lady Elliot Island is the home of the Manta ray and during the winter months, hundreds of the graceful creatures migrate past the island.
Nemo, is that you? The most famous of the Great 8, these photogenic little fish are loved globally and one of the first creatures anyone will want to spot on the Great Barrier Reef. Luckily you won’t have to try too hard to find them as they live along the length of the reef.
These extraordinary molluscs, which can grow to 1.5 metres in length and weigh up to 200kg, feature a pretty ordinary exterior but a stunning mantle – the fleshy part protruding from the shell. It’s said that, like a human fingerprint, no two clams have the same mantle pattern or colours. Giant clams can be found across the Great Barrier Reef.
THE PERFECT PAIRING
WINE & DINE: South Africa is a gastronomic tour de force with fresh fish, wild meats and world-class wine all on the menu. WORDS BY TOM PATTINSON
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GLOBETROTTER SOUTH AFRICA
has been making wine in the cooler climate of Bot River Valley since 1974 and is certain to convert any cynic.
ver since the Dutch settled in South Africa back in the 17th century, bringing French Muscadet grapes with them, the country has been making fine wines that benefit from the region’s hot, coastal climate. South Africa has now become one of the top ten wine producers in the world and Route 62 – running 850km along the coast from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth – is arguably the longest wine trail in the world. It’s also among the most scenic. Not only has South Africa raised its game when it comes to wine, but it is also a veritable gastronomic wonderland with fantastic – and very affordable – beef, game and seafood in abundance. VENISON AND PINOTAGE Venison is the meat of deer or antelope and in South Africa, while impala, springbok and kudu might look cute on safari, they might also appear on your plate and taste great with a glass of Pinotage. Venison is lighter, sweeter and more tender than beef and often is served with a sweet berry sauce that really lifts the flavour. When served grilled or barbecued it should be rare or medium-rare to stop it from drying out. It can also be served in stews. A nice medium rare springbok fillet pairs perfectly with a South African favourite, Pinotage. A combination of Cinsault and Pinot Noir, the Pinotage is sometimes referred to as a ‘love it or hate it wine’ but give it a go and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The elegant Beaumont Pinotage Bot River has notes of red berry fruits and vanilla as well as refreshing acidity that pairs perfectly with the gamey meat. Beaumont
MAIN: Vineyard surrounded by mountains in Montague, Route 62 & oysters with white wine; TOP: fresh pieces of ostrich; BOTTOM: barbecue dry aged haunch of venison
OSTRICH AND SYRAH Although it’s a bird, ostrich has no breast meat like chicken or turkey meaning all the meat comes from the leg and is, therefore, a darker meat. Unlike beef, it has little to no fat giving it a lean texture more like lamb. Although the flavours are not quite so rich as other red meats, its high-protein, low-fat content makes it one of the healthiest meats around. Like a beef steak, ostrich steaks are best grilled or fried on a high heat to lock in the moisture and avoid overcooking. Sometimes, ostrich is served raw as a carpaccio. As the flavours are milder, a nice Syrah with strong peppery flavours pairs perfectly with this big bird. Try the Reyneke, Reserve Red from Stellenbosch made entirely from Syrah. With spicy white pepper, lavender and thyme and fine tannins, this biodynamic wine will pair perfectly with your meal.
South Africa has now become one of the top ten wine producers in the world
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Chenin Blanc is South Africa’s go-to white wine, and pairs wonderfully with a Steenbras fillet or steamed crab. The most widely planted grape in the country has a bright fresh fruity taste with floral characters. The Vondeling Petit Blanc Chenin Blanc from Swartland with light, tropical flavours of pineapple and passion fruit, will work well with shellfish.
BOEREWORS AND CABERNET SAUVIGNON This South African sausage is made from minced beef with spices such as coriander, cloves and nutmeg. Every region will have a different version of the sausage with the exact recipe often a closely guarded secret. The boerewors – or Farmer’s Sausage – are barbeque staples and sometimes beef mince might be mixed with other meats such as lamb, venison or pork. Although a good beer will help a boerewors slide down, try a dark Cabernet Sauvignon to cut through the fat of the meat. The Edgebaston GS Cabernet Sauvignon from Stellenbosch is dark in colour and has strong blackberry and dark fruit flavours. It has a smokiness which will work well with the barbequed flavour of the sausage and is an affordable and reliable bottle from one of the best wine regions in the country.
TOP: Bokkoms (dry fish) BOTTOM: African boerewors; INSET: biltong
SEAFOOD AND CHENIN BLANC The hundreds of kilometres of South Africa’s southern coastline means there is always plenty of seafood available. In some areas along the coast, bokkoms can be found drying by the side of the street. These small, sundried mullet fish are salted and served as a snack similar to a fishy version of biltong. It’s best, however, to go for the abundance of fresh fish and crab that comes off the boat each morning.
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BILTONG AND SHIRAZ South Africa’s go-to snack is the smoked dried or cured and spiced meat made from beef or venison. Some biltong is similar to beef jerky whereas some are cut thin and more similar to Spanish jamón ibérico. The thickness and type of meat as well the amount and type of spices used, impact the flavour but most will have a smoky, woody taste. The oaky, smoky aroma of a good Shiraz works well with this cured meat. Try the Diemersfontein Shiraz from Wellington which has lots of chewy tannins and charred fruity flavours. It’s full-bodied and the leathery, smoky aromas match well with the dried meat. OYSTERS AND SAUVIGNON BLANC Nothing is better than watching the sunset with a good glass of wine and a plate of oysters. Found along much of the south coast, some of the best are found just north of Cape Town at Saldanha Bay, Knysna, or Wilderness – slap bang in the middle of the coast road. The slimy, salty pockets of heaven can be washed down with a nice sparkling wine but also go well with a fine Sauvignon Blanc. South African Sauvignon Blanc is super dry, crisp and refreshing. They also have fresh green flavours that work well with fish dishes and oysters and don’t overpower the delicate flavours. Leopards Leap Sauvignon Blanc from the Franschhoek region is a tangy wine with a long finish that makes this an easy and enjoyable drink.
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Meet Jason deCaires Taylor, creator of the new Great Barrier Reef Underwater Museum
Q Did you experience much of our beloved Great Barrier Reef before this project? Yes! I was very fortunate to work as the dive instructor both in Cairns and Airlie Beach in Queensland. Working on a liveaboard I manage to visit some really unexplored and pristine parts of the GBR.
OCCUPATION SCULPTOR, ACTIVIST, MARINE CONSERVATIONIST, SCUBA DIVING INSTRUCTOR COUNTRY UNITED KINGDOM
Q You’re hailed as the world’s leading underwater sculptor. How did you end up INSPIRED TO TRAVEL TO becoming an underwater sculptor? QUEENSLAND? I have always been fascinated by the Check out our tours here underwater world, after studying fine art in London, I wanted to go travelling so I moved to Australia to become a dive instructor. The subsequent career was an obvious combination of the two fields. Q As pretty as these enigmatic sculptures are, there’s a strong commentary around climate change, conservation and regeneration. Has this always been a theme in your work? I am coming close to making over 1000 sculptures around the world, and each of the works aims to discuss a different theme, many related to the location they are sited. However over the years, as I have witnessed greater damage to our marine ecosystems and the realisation that we have very little time to turn climate change around, I have certainly focused and narrowed my message.
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Q What is your must-dive recommendation for enthusiasts? Ice diving in Norway or for somewhere slightly warmer, the Cenotes in Mexico is essential. Q What are some habits we can adopt to contribute to conservation efforts and make a difference in protecting our waters and sealife? Vote! Especially for parties that have strong environmental policies and agenda. Aim to make your life carbon neutral (easier said than done). Donate to charities such as Greenpeace, Oceana, and support Extinction Rebellion.
For more information and to book, visit Museum of Underwater Art
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NAME JASON DECAIRES TAYLOR
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ARMCHAIR TRAVELLER A visit to Kruger National Park
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If I have ever seen magic, it is in Africa" John Hemingway, American author
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PHOTO: KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, SOUTH AFRICA, 2019. Â© INSPIRING VACATIONS
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