Page 1

Vacations fi














& travel

Jul/Aug/Sep 2015 Issue 95

spectacular rail journeys

Meandering in Madras

london dining Say ‘I do’ to a Bali Wedding

papua New Guinea


solomon islands


maria island

ROAMING IN Rio de Janeiro

Snow business: Jackson Hole Mammoth Hokkaido Korea



Win a trip for two to Abu Dhabi

dreams Chicago

New Orleans

New York

Hotels, dining, shopping, markets, books, galleries, cruising and spas!


Editors’ Picks

Best New River Ships

Experience European Cruising on the “Best New River Ships” Enjoy the contemporary deluxe ‘Star Ship’ design where innovation meets indulgence. Spectacular balcony views, exclusive pool and cinema!

Call 1300 383 747 or find your Evergreen Expert Agency at

Conditions apply. For full terms and conditions refer to Evergreen Tours Europe 2016 brochure. All prices based on per person twin share. All prices based on land and cruise components only. Valid on new bookings only. Not valid in conjunction with any other offer. Price based EWCR.1 26/11/16 departure in E category cabin & includes early payment discount with full payment made 12 months prior to departure date. Fly Free offers: Based on specific cabins on specific departures, enquire at time of booking. Must be booked and deposited prior to 31/10/15. Valid ex Australia based on economy class to specific ports and must be booked by Evergreen Tours. Airfare subject to variation & based on specific class on specific airline, enquire at the time of booking, if class not available a surcharge will apply. Evergreen Tours reserves the right to ticket the airfare upon receipt of deposit. Once issued, air tickets are non-refundable & subject to Amendment & Cancellation

15 Day Splendours of Europe river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest from $5,565pp* t/share in an Emerald Stateroom Fly Free offers*

Save up to $800 per couple*

No Single supplement*

River with Ocean Cruises

Strictly limited offers.

Fees as established by the applicable airline. Includes Airport & Airline taxes up to $950pp. Port Taxes are included and based on departure city & subject to change. Save up to $800 per couple is based on full payment of cruise cost 12mths prior to departure. No single supplement cabin is based on specific cabins on specific departures, enquire at time of booking. All offers are subject to availability at time of booking or until sold out, and there are strictly limited cabins available on set departures. A non-refundable booking deposit of $1,000 per person per cruise/tour must be paid within 5 days of making a booking. A second non-refundable deposit of $2,000pp is due by 31/10/15 or the date specified in Your booking advice, whichever date occurs first. Surcharges may apply on credit card transactions. Prices, Dates, Taxes & availability correct at 2/6/15 & subject to change. Evergreen Tours (a division of Scenic Tours Pty Ltd) ABN 85 002 715 602. BOOKING CODE EVMA146
















 hennai, formerly known as Madras, shows its colourful chaos in this C photo essay.


 hile history seeps from every brick in the Old French Quarter in New W Orleans, the dining scene is thoroughly modern.

 rab a beer – craft of course – and settle in to read all about the hot G spots of hipster New York.

 ere are ten of the best things to do on a first visit to this seriously H impressive city by the lake.

J ackson Hole is the real thing, with awesome mountains and an endearing cowboy culture.

From hot springs to world-class skiing and snowboarding, Mammoth Lakes oozes California cool.




Korea is gearing up to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in the shadows of Seoul.



Niseko and Rusutsu have a lot more to offer than just metres and metres of powder snow.





The Maria Island Walk is a wonderful way to explore Australia’s only island national park.



Known as cidade maravilhosa or the marvellous city, Rio de Janeiro promises big things.



Whether you elope, have the big white wedding or choose a barefoot beach wedding, Bali can do it all.



Singapore is celebrating 50 years of independence, with big events and experiences underway.



In Bangkok, shopping is an obsession, with everything from megamalls to railway markets.



Rabaul has experienced two World Wars and multiple eruptions of its active volcano, to not only survive, but thrive.



128 104

From the jungles of Bintan to the beaches of Danang, Banyan Tree delivers the complete holiday experience.



Ghizo’s tropical islands abound with history, hidden by verdant rainforest and an azure sea.

NEW CALEDONIA: take the high road New Caledonia’s main island, Grande Terre, is a Pacific paradise yearning to be explored.

Win A five night trip to Santa Monica, Los Angeles’ Beach City!

See page 18 for details or enter online at


172 172



Train travel is as much about the journey as the destination. Vacations &Travel blows the whistle on some of the world’s best rail journeys.



Mauritius is a melting pot of culture and history that hasn’t gone the way of the Dodo.



Europe is top of the wishlist for Australians for 2015 and beyond. Here are ten hot spots to throw into the mix.



Internationally-acclaimed chef, Michel Roux Jr tells Vacations & Travel why London’s dining scene continues to mesmerise visitors.



Gallipoli, Fromelles, Pozières. Names burned into our history due to the events of a century ago. A visit to these sacred grounds will live in your memory forever.



When you encounter a wild animal in its natural environment it is breathtaking, whether you are in the Arctic, Antarctic or Galápagos.

CRUISING: mediterranean DELIGHT Cruising in the Greek Islands or on the Black Sea is special enough, but when you are on board a Seabourn ship, prepare to be really spoilt.

PUBLISHER/EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Anthony Gallagher CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Helen Hayes sub EDITOR Roshan Sukhla PRODUCTION MANAGER Lorraine Pan CONTRIBUTORS Ben Farrell, Helen Hayes, Lorin Gaudin, Chris Walker, Brannon Gerling, Mark Chipperfield, Robert Upe, Arnie Wilson, Jennifer Berry, Susan Gough Henly, Aleney de Winter, Julie Miller, Christine Retschlag, Lisa Perkovic, Kris Madden, Sarah Dougherty, Kalpana Sunder, Ian Lloyd Neubauer, Andrea Schulte-Peevers, Flash Parker, Will Davies, Greg Grainger, Hugh McCrystal, Jennifer Campbell, Barry O’Brien, Sue Wallace, Roderick Eime, Daniel Resnik, Anthony Gallagher, Summer Brodie, Buster Travers and Josh Hurst. COVER SHOT American dream/iStock Design The Aqua Agency 61-2/9810-5831; Digital consultant Inzen Pty Ltd 61-2/9034-6000; ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES Robert Manuel 61-2/9555-7477 or 61/412-762-243 Display/Classifieds Advertising Virginia Shirley 61/409-046-664 DISTRIBUTION & SUBSCRIPTIONS Australia, New Zealand and Asia Pacific 61-2/9555-7477 PUBLISHED BY Morris Media Network F15, 1-15 Barr Street Balmain NSW 2041 Tel: 61-2/9555-7477 Fax: 61-2/9555-1436 Email: Website: middle east EDITION Lulua Publishing Zeina Bitar (Group Editor) Email: Website: Morris MEDIA NETWORK




President: Donna Kessler Chief Strategy Officer: Reab Berry Chief Financial Officer: Dennis Kelly Morris Media Network (MMN) is a division of Morris Communications, Co., LLC. 725 Broad Street, Augusta, GA 30901. Morris COMMUNICATIONS Chairman & CEO: William S. Morris III President: William S. Morris IV


Articles reflect the personal opinion of the author and not necessarily those of the publisher. The information contained in advertising within is the responsibility of the advertiser. While every effort is made to ensure accuracy of information and prices before going to press, Vacations & Travel magazine cannot be held responsible for changes that may occur after press date or for incorrect information provided. Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited. This product has been printed on paper sourced from Sustainable Forests under the PEFC accreditation



08 10 62 84 110 160 168 204 212 216 220 232 236 240 250

antarctica & south america

all the adventure all the amenities

Complimentary in-suite bar stocked with your preferences • Complimentary open bars throughout the ship Complimentary fine wines poured at lunch and dinner • Complimentary welcome champagne Spacious all-suite accommodations • Tipping is neither required nor expected • Award-winning gourmet dining

© Seabourn 2015

from the editor-in-chief

So much has been written about America and its people I don’t know where to start. Being American is a unique state of mind where dreams meet reality and freedom, democracy and the pursuit of happiness are a way of life. We soak up American literature, fashion and music. iPhones, soft drinks and fast foods are omnipresent. Their movies and television have enthralled generations of Australians and built cultural connections that are both deep and enduring. America is a ‘Super Culture’ that has driven global innovation, change, politics and economic development. Neither 9/11 nor the global financial crisis has dimmed America’s spirit of growth and renewal that lies at the heart of who they are and who they think they can be. Americans are the first to tell you that their spectacular geography, famous people, triumphant cities and multicultural richness are just one part of the equation. They will openly acknowledge that there is also poverty, crime and a multitude of social challenges. Where

else in the world is a mobile phone provided free to senior citizens and the poor? You can even take a companion dog on a domestic flight, a fact I learned just the other day when a happy Labrador plonked itself at my feet as we waited to take off. Travel to the USA still enjoys unprecedented growth following Congress’s enormous injection of funds into global brand campaigns to whet the world’s appetite for all things American. ‘Build it and they will come’ is the American tourism motto and we do so in droves, especially the new super traveller, the Chinese, who have just been extended a 10-year visa waiver. Over 1.25 million Australians cross the Pacific annually. We stay longer and spend more than most, delighting hoteliers, retailers and service industries everywhere. In December 2015, Qantas will fly back into San Francisco, and American Airlines have just announced LA Sydney direct, an overall 9 percent capacity increase. While Australians love to shop stateside, USA travellers are reciprocating as the allure of Australian culture and connections build local tourism growth. I started with this magazine 16 years ago when the internet and email was in

its inception. Richard Branson was busy making travel cool and the Asian 5-star resort boom was in its infancy. We’ve ridden a massive wave since then with our readership growing hugely each and every year of our existence. A large USA publisher, Morris Media Network recently purchased us, with plans to distribute in the USA and increase our circulation in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. These are exciting times in media, travel and world affairs. The capacity of travel to connect, educate and build a better world is limitless and I’m one very lucky publisher. Has the American spirit of optimism and exception swayed me? Unquestionably! Is my optimism warranted? Why not go and see for yourself. I guarantee that you’ll be planning your next visit on the flight home if you’re anything like me.

Robert Upe is an award-winning travel writer and editor with a love of skiing. He has co-authored two ski guidebooks and has skied at 50 resorts around the world, from China to Tasmania. He has covered World Cup ski races and Winter Olympics, where he witnessed the one-and-only Eddie The Eagle and the Jamaican bobsleigh team in action. He was the co-editor of the travel sections at The Age and Sydney Morning Herald and the national travel writer for Fairfax, before taking up the role as an editor of an inflight magazine.

After spending 37 years in the Australian film industry, 30 of which running his own documentary production company, Will Davies has now retired to write, (he has written eight books to date) led battlefield tours, and has been active in the centenary of Anzac commemorative events. He is an Ambassador on the NSW Anzac Advisory Council and the Chair of a company to build the Pozieres Australia School on the Somme. He is also working to complete his PhD at ANU and specialises in writing history travel.

Arnie Wilson juggled UK careers as a TV and newspaper reporter before skiing took over his life. He spent 15 years as the Financial Times ski correspondent. In 1994, he and Lucy Dicker skied 365 consecutive days, visiting 240 resorts in 13 countries (including 12 in Australia), entering the Guinness Book of Records. Mammoth Mountain, California was a key resort linking both hemispheres as they circled the globe twice. Wilson recently completed a 33year mission to ski in every US state with ski lifts. He has skied in 729 resorts.

Welcome to our Apple Pie edition.


Anthony Gallagher Publisher/Editor-in-Chief

NORTHERN SPAIN & THE DOURO VALLEY ABOARD EL TRANSCANTABRICO & SPIRIT OF CHARTWELL Spain | Portugal Discover a side of Spain and Portugal that others miss aboard our vintage train and river barge fit for royalty. It’s all included

All travel 5 star accommodation or the best available All Meals – plus soft drink. Wine and beer with lunch and dinner All sightseeing excursions Our Select program, giving you a choice of complimentary sightseeing and dining options Comfortable coaches with ample seating available while sightseeing An experienced Tour Host Team including an accompanying doctor All four T’s: tipping, taxes, transfers and travel insurance* And more thoughtful extras… such as point-to-point luggage service and a higher Tour Host to guest ratio…

Bay of Biscay

Viveiro Candas Santander San Sebastian Ferrol Luarca Arriondas Bilbao Santiago de Compostela Porto Atlantic Sea

Regua Barca d'Alva Pinhao





25 May – 16 June 2016 (23 Days) All included from $23,380 per person twin share from Sydney^ Phil Asker Pty Ltd CC2016B *Subject to meeting requirements of the insurer. ˆPrices from other cities are available on request.

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Balearic Sea

travel talk


These walls tell


Embracing the Buddhist tradition of ‘metta bhavana’ (loving kindness), Cambodia’s first private island luxury resort, Song Saa, has introduced a series of three-, five- and seven-day healing retreat programmes to refresh, rejuvenate and revive. A highly skilled team of therapists, in collaboration with luxurious spa brand ila, offer a world class approach to holistic wellbeing, using locally-sourced herbs and plants, as well as Song Saa’s silken sands and iron-rich stones. Not a traditional spa centre, the walls tell a thousand stories as they are made of old fishing boats and the entire island is a sanctuary of regenerative sites, outdoor salas and discreet treatment villas nestled amongst the rainforest and along the ocean shore.





While Croatia is known for the historic cities of Dubrovnik, Split and Trogir and its stunning islands dotted in the crystal clear Adriatic, there are countless other gems scattered around the country. One such gem is Plitvice National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most popular Park in Croatia. Situated two hours from Zagreb or two and a half hours from Zadar, the Park is focused around 16 small lakes all connected to each other through waterfalls and surrounded by beautiful forests of beech, fir and spruce. Visit in autumn and the blue green of the waterfalls is complemented by the hue of brown and orange and red leaves – a photographer’s dream. Visitors can hike around the lakes on the network of paths, or choose the electric trains or noiseless ectro-powered boats. There are several hotels in the area allowing visitors to make the most of this stunningly beautiful place.


To the top of New York


Perched atop the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, the One World Trade Center, the One World Observatory is offering visitors an inspiring and unparalleled opportunity to experience New York City through its three-floors of innovation and inspiration. Sky Pod elevators, among the fastest in the world, shoot passengers to the 102nd floor in an immersive cab that boasts floor-to-ceiling LED technology allowing passengers to experience a virtual time-lapse of the development of New York City’s skyline from the 1600s to present day. From sweeping panoramic views of the city’s most iconic sites to innovative interactive exhibits and world-class dining options, the new Observatory at One World Trade Center is now open and is destined to become one of New York City’s premier attractions.


PULL UP. TAKE OFF. If you want to fly through Sydney Airport there’s nothing quicker than Pronto Valet. Simply drop off your car and head straight to the gate. It’s that easy. Pronto Valet car parks are conveniently located just steps from the Domestic and International Terminals and you can save by booking online at

Kwandwe – A South African game reserve

for the conscientious traveller

As South Africa’s largest private Big Five game viewing area, Kwandwe Private Game Reserve in the country’s Eastern Cape offers exceptional wildlife viewing activities and a sophisticated experience for the conscientious traveller. Once overgrazed by settlers, the area that is home to Kwandwe has seen the return of an incredibly diverse number of animals from the Big Five to many unique species including the critically endangered Blue Crane or ‘Kwandwe’ – from whom the reserve gets its name. The reserve’s two small safari lodges – Great Fish River Lodge and Ecca Lodge – and two exclusive-use safari villas, assure minimal impact on the land and one of the highest land-to-guest ratios in South Africa. Safari activities include game drives, bush walks, photographic safaris, fishing and boating excursions. A variety of activities also allow guests to get involved in the conservation and community initiatives being carried out on the reserve.

Rally Royale Oman

Rally Royale is bringing classic car racing to Oman for the first Oman Grand Tour, a three-week, 3,000 kilometre classic car rally around Arabia’s best keep secret. To coincide with the Sultanate’s 45th national day celebrations from 28 November to 17 December 2015, the 20-day Grand Tour will see drivers undertaking an exciting adventure starting from Oman’s sub-tropical ancient Salalah. The journey will continue through the vast Wahiba Sands, up into the high, cool mountains of Jebel Akhdar and on to legendary Muscat before continuing north through Musandam – the Norway of Arabia – and finishing in neighbouring Dubai. –16–

A moment to last a lifetime Me r iton Pe nthouse Collection

Take a moment and imagine yourself staying in the luxury of one of our spacious penthouse apartments. Breathtaking views are just the beginnings of what will become an unforgettable experience.

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Vacations & Travel magazine in conjunction with Santa Monica Travel and Tourism and the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, is giving subscribers the chance to win a sensational trip to Santa Monica, California, including two return economy flights and five nights’ accommodation.


anta Monica is where the city meets the sea. With its incomparable oceanfront setting, world-class dining and vibrant cultural scene, Santa Monica combines the laid back appeal of a classic California beach town with big-city sophistication. Perched on the Pacific Ocean at the crossroad of Pacific Coast Highway and California Interstate 10, Santa Monica’s prime location offers convenient access to all of Los Angeles’ most famous landmarks and attractions. At the heart of the Santa Monica experience are eight distinctive neighbourhoods, each infused with a wealth of personality and visitor attractions. At just 8.3 square miles, it doesn’t take long to discover the


world-class shopping, dining, and entertainment in each of them.

Coastal Luxury Enjoy five nights at the ultra-luxurious Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, situated atop the scenic bluffs overlooking Santa Monica Beach. The property is just steps from the Santa Monica Pier, the world-class shopping at Santa Monica Place and the Third Street Promenade which plays host to the famous Santa Monica farmers market. Boasting unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean, Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows is a true Hollywood hideaway. Residing on two hectares of lush, landscaped gardens and waterfalls, the

Fairmont effortlessly combines historic elegance with modern appointments. Experience one of Fairmont Miramar’s 32 iconic bungalow suites, recently renovated by celebrated local interior designer Michael Berman. Inspired by the property’s striking Berman-designed presidential suite Bungalow One, the new bungalow suites reflect the same convergence of Malibu beach house chic and ‘surf modern’ style. Each of the 32 bungalows have a unique personality, but all combine a fresh colour palette with organic elements throughout, integrating cooling gray-blue hues, custom lighting, and local-inspired vintage artwork, reflective of the Santa Monica beach community.

The prize includes • Five nights’ accommodation in an Ocean Tower room at Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalow • Two return economy flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide or Perth to Los Angeles. • Round trip airport transfers • Dinner at FIG Restaurant, Fairmont Miramar’s onsite seasonal bistro • Trapeze class for two on the Santa Monica Pier • Two luxurious spa treatments at exhale mindbodyspa, an urban sanctuary for spa services at Fairmont Miramar

Entry is open to all Vacations & Travel subscribers, existing and new. To subscribe and go in the draw, fill out the attached card on page 18 and write in 25 words or less why you would love to go to Santa Monica. Or, subscribe online at Entries must be received by 30 September 2015, and the lucky winner will be notified by phone. Terms and Conditions: Competition is open to residents of Australia only. The prize is for two people and must be completed by 30 September 2016. The prize voucher must be provided at the time of booking. The prize must be redeemed all at once, and is only valid on the guest room type listed in the voucher. Rooms are subject to availability and blackout dates do apply. Check-in time is at 3pm and check-out time is at 12pm. The accommodation prize is based on twin share and must be taken on consecutive nights. The winner will be required to present a credit card at the time of accommodation check-in for security purposes. All other expenses, not specifically stipulated in the prize package as an inclusion, remain the responsibility of the prize winner and their nominated travel companion(s) as incurred. The Prize consists of two economy return air tickets, including taxes and charges, from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide or Perth to Los Angeles. No extensions are possible. Bookings must be made a minimum of six weeks prior to the prize being taken, and any hotel blackout dates will also apply to the airfares. The prize must be taken as stated and no compensation will be payable if the winner is unable to use the prize. Entries must be received by 30 September 2015, and the lucky winner will be notified by phone. Vacations & Travel magazine will not be held liable for any loss or harm to prize winners. Travel insurance is the responsibility of all prize winners and we strongly recommend comprehensive cover. No Morris Media Network employees, family or friends are eligible to enter.º


Something’s cooking at Laucala Island

One of the world’s most stunning resorts, Laucala Island is now offering visitors sustainable cooking classes with ingredients entirely farmed, fished or foraged from the island. Each of Laucala’s cooking classes and demonstrations – hosted by the island’s talented chefs, Executive Chef Anthony Healy, Pastry Chef Jon Gladson and Thai Chef Piak Sussadeewong – can be modified to accommodate each guest’s taste and skill level. In keeping with the island’s commitment to keep its produce 100 per cent hormone and chemical free, the organic ingredients used in the cooking classes are grown on the resort’s own hydroponic farm, and much of the island’s seafood is caught within a mile of the shore. This sustainable approach not only guarantees flavourful food, but offers visitors a genuine insight into local Fijian culture.

Western Australia’s most unique getaway

One of Australia’s newest and most remote five-star coastal lodges, The Berkeley River Lodge in the Kimberley region is one of the country’s most spectacular and beautiful retreats. Inaccessible by road, the unique luxury venue is accessible only by air allowing visitors to leave the modern world far behind as they immerse themselves in the ancient wonders of the Kimberley region. With 20 stunning luxury villas, guests will enjoy five-star discreet service with all-inclusive packages including return scenic transfers, accommodation, gourmet meals, beverages and guest activities. Only moments from secluded white beaches, Berkeley River Lodge’s other activities include epic fishing expeditions, cruises along the majestic Berkeley River, swimming in the crystal clear pools of nearby waterfalls and wilderness picnics, or take in majestic Kimberley views by helicopter.




New Caledonia is Australia’s closest Pacific neighbour, making it an ideal destination for Australians looking for a holiday with a difference, without the distance. When you arrive in New Caledonia, you will find yourself amongst stunning natural wonders, including a World Heritage listed lagoon and the second largest reef in the world, all waiting to be explored and appreciated by visitors. Flying direct from Australia you can be in Noumea in just two hours from Brisbane, less than three hours from Sydney and under four hours from Melbourne; the short flying times make this Pacific island the perfect long weekend getaway.


To find out more, visit

Colours of


India is one of the most vibrant countries in the world with Rajasthan, at its epicentre, shimmering brightest of all. Departing 15 February 2016, By Roads’ fully escorted 15-day tour of the region will take visitors from timeless villages to stately palaces and staying in heritage hotels, traditional merchant homes and stunning palaces along the way. Highlights include visits to Delhi, Udaipur, Jodhpur, the fabled pink-city of Jaipur and Agra – home of the incomparable Taj Mahal. The tour will also head off the beaten track to lesser known but equally enchanting sites like the celebrated fortress at Chittorgarh, the tiger-dotted Ranthambore National Park and the wonderful old town of Bundi.

Green luxury at Arajilla


Luxurious Arajilla is an eco-friendly retreat nestled under a canopy of Kentia Palms and Banyan Trees on a sheltered corner of the Lord Howe Island’s lagoon. Powered by solar energy, LED lighting and gas heating the tranquil retreat is the embodiment of green living. The retreat also grows its own fruit and vegetables, farms chickens and uses an efficient waste composting system that is used to fertilise the enchanting Arajilla gardens. Until 31 October 2015, Arajilla Retreat eco-lovers can stay five nights and pay for four with complimentary gourmet cheese platter and bottle of wine on arrival and a voucher for Lord Howe Island’s only Ayurvedic Spa.


HOMESAIL FOR THE HOLIDAYS CRYSTAL CRUISES IN 2015 Home is where your Crystal Family is waiting with festive gatherings and world-class cuisine, indulgent pampering, and time to relax and escape from the bustle of the Holiday season. Reserve your Crystal sailing today to enjoy the World's Best cruise line along with outstanding Book Now savings. Act fast as space for both voyages is limited.










19 Dec


San Juan, Puerto Rico

22 Dec


Miami, Florida, USA

20 Dec


Cruising the Caribbean Sea

23 Dec


Cruising the Atlantic Ocean

21 Dec


Scarborough, Trinidad and Tobago

24 Dec


Turks & Caicos/Grand Turk, UK

22 Dec


Cruising the North Atlantic Ocean

25 Dec


Cruising the Caribbean Sea

23 Dec


Devil's Island, îles du Salut, French Guiana

26 Dec



24-25 Dec


Cruising the Coast of Brazil

27 Dec


Cruising the Coast of Colombia

26 Dec


Fortaleza, Brazil

28 Dec


Santa Marta, Colombia


Cartagena, Colombia

27 Dec


Cruising the Coast of Brazil

29 Dec

28 Dec


Recife, Brazil

30 Dec


Cruising the Caribbean Sea

29 Dec


Salvador da Bahia, Brazil

31 Dec


Roatán Island, Honduras

30 Dec


Cruising the Coast of Brazil

1 Jan


Cruising the Caribbean Sea

31 Dec


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (overnight)

2 Jan


Costa Maya, Mexico


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil/Buzios, Brazil

3 Jan


Cozumel, Mexico

2 Jan


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (overnight)

4 Jan


Cruising the Caribbean Sea

3 Jan


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

5 Jan


Miami, Florida, USA

1 Jan

 Maiden port

T H E A L L I N C L U S I V E C R YS TA L E X P E R I E N C E ® On board, indulge in the finest services and amenities at sea including: • Select fine wines, champagne and premium spirits in all restaurants and bar service throughout the ship • Up to seven evening dining options* • Award-winning entertainment • All non-alcoholic beverages including bottled water, soft drinks, fresh juices, teas and coffee served throughout the ship • 24-hour room service • Pre-paid gratuities for housekeeping, bar and dining staff • Golf clinics with PGA instructors • Spacious 360° teak Promenade Deck • Pilates, yoga and spinning classes • and so much more



1800 251 174 (AU) or 0800 446 376 (NZ) •

*Terms and Conditions: Fares listed are in US dollars, per person, double occupancy in category as stated, subject to availability and include taxes. Fares are reviewed on 1 July 2015. All itineraries, fares, programs and policies are subject to change. Other restrictions and terms and conditions apply. Crystal Cruises offers each guest the opportunity to dine at least once on a complimentary basis in Prego and at least once in Silk Road or the Sushi Bar. Additional reservations or visits are subject to a US$30 per person fee, subject to availability. Wiltrans International for full terms and conditions. Issue date: 1 June 2015

Blend it like Blass

South Australia’s Wolf Blass Cellar Door is offering several enticing new reasons to drop in for a tasting. Following a recent state-of-the-art redesign, the Barossa Valley winery’s Visitors Centre and Cellar Door is now an all-encompassing destination for guests visiting the region, with interactive behindthe-scenes experiences and impressive memorabilia. The Cellar Door’s impressive Black Label Wall showcases the world’s only collection of every Black Label vintage since the winery’s inception in 1973. And, for those who fancy themselves as an amateur winemaker, the Cellar Door is now offering educational and interactive wine experiences including an opportunity to ‘Blend it like Blass’ where visitors can blend their own version of the reputable series.

Rev up in Abu Dhabi

The 2015 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be revving up in Abu Dhabi 27-29 November 2015, at the iconic Yas Marina Circuit. It is the world’s only twilight race and will be the last of the 2015 season, and could potentially decide the prestigious F1 driver’s championship. More than 60,000 fans enjoyed the race last year, with the event generating a mind boggling 1.9 billion Twitter impressions for the #AbuDhabiGP hashtag – ensuring it trended number one worldwide on race day. This year the race will ‘Go Beyond’, with more entertainment options, including A-list musical artists at the after race concerts, enhanced hospitality and all-new individual ticket packages, including the introduction of a one-day roaming ticket for Friday. –24–

e c n e i r e t n p e x g l e i du n b i a an h D u Ab

Including return Economy Class airfares for two flying Etihad Airways, four-nights five-star accommodation, airport transfers, city tour and an exciting desert adventure.

TO WIN Visit Tell us in 25 words or less:

“What would make your trip to Abu Dhabi a truly indulgent experience?”

Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, Level 7, 235 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont NSW 2009. Contact Entry is open to all residents of Australia. Individuals under 18 years of age must have permission from a parent/legal guardian to enter. The competition commences on 01 July 2015 and concludes on 30 September 2015

Visit Atlantis

The Kennedy Space Center in Florida has exhibits that are out of this world, in more ways than one. The newest star in Kennedy’s crown is Atlantis, featuring the Atlantis Space Shuttle that changed the face of space travel, by launching like a rocket, flying in orbit like a spacecraft and landing back on Earth like a glider. Visitors step into an entry vestibule to watch a high tech video on the planning, design and making of Atlantis, leading up to the moment it blasted off on its first mission. Then the doors open to reveal the shuttle itself, its nose and exterior still showing the burn marks and scars from its missions. You can even join a tour of Atlantis, given by an astronaut that travelled in it. But getting nose-to-nose with Atlantis is not all guests can do at this $100 million attraction. The immersive experience invites guests to ‘be the astronaut’ with never-before-seen, technologically sophisticated multimedia presentations and more than 60 interactive, touch-screen experiences and high-tech simulators. Do a full-day tour and also visit the Apollo/Saturn V Center with an actual Saturn V moon rocket, the launch pads and the Vehicle Assembly Building.

Manchester the new Gotham City

Manchester might just have the hippest hotel in the UK with the opening of the spectacular Hotel Gotham. The brand new hotel is located in King Street in a former bank premises, built in an Art Deco style and featuring carvings by a local sculptor. Dubbed ‘The Castle’ thanks to its lavish exterior, the five-star property sits in the upmarket shopping district with boutiques such as Hermès, Whistles, Emporio Armani, Agent Provocateur, Mulberry, Thomas Pink, Reiss and Crombie. The Hotel has 60 rooms, five of which are inner sanctum suites. There is a restaurant, a rooftop bar and club. Everything at Hotel Gotham, from the magnificent architecture to timeless décor, is designed to take the breath away, and to add to the drama of the property, look out for some of the characters in the hallways and bars.


City Spotlights with Colette

For travellers wishing to explore some of the world’s iconic city destinations, Collette’s new signature in-depth short city tours offer the perfect solution. Tailored for people eager for a greater insight into a city’s urban culture, history, cuisine and lifestyle, City Spotlights provide the perfect mix of free time and time with an expert guide to learn about your destination in a leisurely manner. From Rome to Beijing, Florence to New York, Barcelona to Dublin and Paris to New Orleans, Colette offers a wide choice of exciting cities to explore. And for cruise passengers, City Spotlights provide an ideal opportunity for pre and post touring in some of the world’s greatest cities.

Tea and Sea at

Cape Weligama Perched on a spectacular cliff-top site, just south of Galle Fort on Sri Lanka’s south coast, Cape Weligama is the newest hotel venture for Resplendent Ceylon, owned by the family behind Dilmah Tea. Set within beautifully landscaped grounds with incredible cliff-top views, the glamorous resort offers generously-sized villas and suites which celebrate three distinct themes; the island’s prominent maritime heritage, its diversity of fauna and the renowned Ceylon tea. With sublime dining experiences, a stunning crescent shaped cliff-top infinity pool, in-villa spa experiences, private butler service, and a beachside Dive Centre, luxurious Cape Weligama offers the ultimate indulgent combination of ‘Tea and Sea’.


From cape

to cape

Explore the Margaret River’s scenic limestone cliffs, crystal clear white sand beaches, rocky surf breaks, stunning Willyabrup sea-cliffs and the giant karri trees of Boranup forest on a four-day Cape to Cape walk with Walk into Luxury. The guided small group walking tour combines the best walking on the Cape to Cape track with gourmet food and wine tastings and luxurious accommodation. Enjoy a post-walk massage treatment at the award-winning Injidup Spa or relax in a villa stocked with tasty local treats and hand-selected wines. Along with incredible gastronomic experiences, guests will enjoy exclusive sunset cliff-top drinks and a didgeridoo performance with a local traditional owner.

Stormchasers on

the Powder Highway

Lovers of powder snow will be frothing over Canada’s Powder Highway, the name for the ski resorts of Kicking Horse, Revelstoke, Fernie and Lake Louise. Kicking Horse Powder Tours can help make the best of the conditions organising bespoke or organised trips that are geared to all levels of skier – from beginner families to powder hound specialists. The company can organise everything from airport pickups to accommodation, advice on the best instructor for your level, arrange lift tickets or private lessons. One of the best tours for advanced adults is the Storm Chasers, a high-adrenaline, action-packed adventure that follows the snow, travelling in a luxury ‘Big Rig’ coach. Guests will go heli and cat skiing, stay in luxury tents on the snow and have an absolute ball. It’s the ultimate ski holiday for anyone looking to push themselves in the famous powder forests of BC.


Stylish hotels with plenty personality, perfect for the savvy traveler.

Call your travel agent or Aqua at +1.808.924.6543

Eiger sanctioned

When it comes to natural beauty, the village of Grindelwald in the Bernese Oberland area of Switzerland takes the cake. This pretty town is surrounded by mountain royalty, including the Eiger north face and the Wetterhorn, not to mention the incredible Jungfrau. The mountains attract many hikers and climbers in summer, and in winter, skiers and snowboarders abound. A highlight of any visit to Grindelwald is to ride the cog-wheel railway up to the Jungfraujoch, with two stops in the tunnel along the way for remarkable views of the north wall of the Eiger. At the top, enjoy spectacular views extending from the Aletsch Glacier to the Jungfrau, visit the Ice Palace, Ice Gateway, the Sphinx viewing terrace or go dog sledding. To make the most of your mountain experience, stay in a mountain hut such as the Berghaus Bort, which offers spectacular views and incredible food, as well as giving easy access to the walking trails of the mountains or the ski resorts.

Walk the 606 in Chicago New York has the High Line and now Chicago has the 606 – the longest elevated walking trail in the world. Opening on 6 June 2015, the 606 utilises the old Bloomingdale train line that has been silent for over a decade and now brings parklands to the neighbourhoods of Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Bucktown and Wicker Park. With 37 bridges and 1400 trees from 200 plant species along the 2.7 mile-long trail, the 606 will bring together arts, history, design, trails for bikers, runners, and walkers, event spaces, alternative transportation avenues, and green, open space for locals and visitors alike.;


Discover our all-inclusive holiday and share


Centara offers you the ultimate range of choice of accommodation in Thailand, with deluxe rooms, spacious suites or villas with private pools, all complemented by our effortless hospitality and luxurious facilities. Just decide which of our balmy, blissful Thai destinations, such as Phuket, Koh Samui and Krabi, best suits you. Plus, you can take advantage of Centara “All Inclusive Programme” available at most of our properties, it’s a simple way to make your holiday even more relaxing. Enjoy fabulous cuisines, free-flow soſt drinks, cocktails or wines throughout the day, and unwind at our spas - all as part of one all-inclusive, cash-free and carefree package.

BOOK DIRECT FOR OUR BEST RATE GUARANTEED AT or contact your local Flight Centre travel agent.

Antarctica Tales by Light Expedition cruise company, Aurora Expeditions, is conducting an exclusive photography expedition to Antarctica and South Georgia featuring Peter Eastway, AIPP Grand Master of Photography and one of the world’s elite photographers. Eastway stars in National Geographic Channel’s new groundbreaking documentary series Tales by Light. Peter will guide students through a tailored program of lectures and workshops on essentials camera skills, photographing in the Polar Regions and post-production techniques. Peter will also be on hand on shore to help photographers capture that perfect Antarctic photograph. Award-winning cinematographer Abraham Joffe, one of Australia’s top DSLR filmmakers, and the creator and cameraman behind the Tales by Light television series, will also be on board. Photographers can expect to stand in front of hundreds of thousands of penguins, see seals linger on ice floes and be mesmerised by seabirds as they glide gracefully in the tailwind. The expedition will be on board the Polar Pioneer, and will depart Santiago on 21 November, 2015.

Mount up to explore Chile

South American eco-adventure operator explora has introduced two new tours that allow guests to explore some of the highlights of Chile on horseback. The new four-legged programs will be conducted over five days – four nights in Patagonia and Atacama, with a minimum of two people per departure. The tours will be run from the explora Patagonia in Torres del Paine National Park and the explora Atacama in San Pedro, Atacama, with both properties having onsite stables run by experienced gauchos. It’s ideal; spend all day exploring in the saddle, and then return to the comforts of your explora property. The tours are for experienced riders only.




Explore the Greeks Islands, sip cocktails on the streets of Spain or celebrate the beauty of the Norwegian Fjords. Our fleet of 12 luxurious ships offer year round cruising in the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Northern Europe, Arabian Peninsula, Canary Islands and Morocco. Discover our Grand Voyages, an amazing combination of time at sea with new friends and stunning ports of call. Indulge yourself with an upgrade and cruise in style in our MSC Yacht Club; an exclusive ship within a ship, offering 24-hour butler service, stylish suites, an exclusive restaurant, bar, pool and sun deck dedicated to Yacht Club guests. *CRUISE OFFER TERMS AND CONDITIONS: Conditions Apply. Prices are per person twin share based on MSC Preziosa departing Genoa for 7 nights on the 23rd April 2017. Balcony cabin includes Aurea drinks package at main restaurant and bars only. MSC Yacht Club is only available on 4 of MSC Cruises 12 ships MSC Preziosa, MSC Divian, MSC Splendida, MSC Fantasia and includes all meals and drinks included in the MSC Yacht Club area including your suite. If combined with the on board credit offer $100 on board credit is AUD per cabin for minimum 2 adults twin share, to the maximum value of $100 Australian. You must quote VT0715 at time of booking to have the on board credit added to the booking. On board credit is only for purchases made on the cruise ship and is not valid once clients depart the ship. On board credit is valid for any bookings on MSC Cruises’ itineraries of 7 nights or more departing from 1st July 2015 until 30 April 2016 and must be booked no later than 30 September 2015. For a single adult cruise traveller the on board credit is AUD$50 only. Not valid for children or third or fourth adults in a booking. All details are correct at time of print however subject to change or removal at any time without advance notice. E&OE MSC Cruises (Australia) Pty Limited ABN 55 003 526 725. General Sales Agent for MSC Cruises S.A. ATAS Accredited No A10954.


A cruise with MSC offers a world of destinations...

7 NIGHTS IN A LUXURIOUS BALCONY CABIN Imagine escaping winter by exploring the Mediterranean with all meals & drinks included - from AU$1729*pp

7 NIGHT MSC YACHT CLUB SUITE Indulge yourself with a 24 hour butler, decadent amenities and all meals and drinks included - from AU$2549*pp

The World of Wearable is WOW


One of New Zealand’s cultural success stories has been the spectacular growth of the World of WearableArt – better known as WOW. This annual design awards show, held in Wellington, combines the worlds of fashion, art, technology and entertainment in one huge event. This unique event attracts 50,000 people every year, and has encouraged an explosion of creative activity, inspiring a wide range of fashion designers, artists, costume-makers and other artisans from all over the world to enter. The range of garments produced for the event is simply breathtaking, as the rules of competition mean that anything that is in any way wearable can find a place on stage, so long as it is original, beautifully designed and well-made. This also results in garments that are constructed from an extraordinary array of materials. The show is on from Thursday 24 September to Sunday 11 October (Thursday to Sunday nights).

Fly high over Queenstown

The best way to see Mother Nature’s finest scenery is by helicopter, and in Queenstown, Heli Tours has an excellent range of scenic flights to choose from. Heli Tours is a boutique helicopter company with exclusive access to sites throughout the Southern Lakes district, Fiordland Otago and Canterbury. Fly over Milford Sound with a glacier landing, Doubtful Sound with beach and waterfall landings or fly over both Sounds with five landings. Choose the Mount Cook Explorer Flight, a Queenstown flight with an alpine landing, a Glacier flight past Mt Earnslaw with a glacier landing, or choose heli wine flights, fly fishing flights, heli surfing trips or heli hiking.


Boots and all in the city of

cowboys and culture

For all things cowboy, head to Fort Worth in Texas and take advantage of the new Stockyards Adventure Pass. The Pass, introduced by the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau, includes a guided historical walking tour of the colourful and vibrant Stockyards district of Fort Worth, admission to the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame – home to the world’s largest collection of wagons, admission to the Stockyards Museum, a screening of the Spirit of The West movie, and a souvenir photo taken on the iconic bull at Billy Bob’s Texas. While in Fort Worth, watch the daily cattle drive of longhorn cattle (on at 11.30am and 4pm), go shopping for cowboy boots or ten gallon hats at Leddy’s, Finches or Mavericks, and book a ticket to the rodeo, on every Friday and Saturday night in the Coliseum. The Stockyards Adventure pass is offered Monday-Saturday from 9am-5pm and Sundays from 10am-5pm.

Hump day

For something different through the ruggedly spectacular Flinders Ranges, sign up for full-day, overnight, or three-, four- or five-day camel safari with Camel Treks Australia. Plus there are four-day family safaris and corporate adventures available. Spectacular gorges, sheltered creeks lined with river red gums and abundant wildlife are just some of the attractions that make up the Camel Treks Australia experience in the Central Flinders Ranges of Outback South Australia. Renowned for its natural, cultural and geological significance, this region is one of Australia’s premier landscapes. The family-owned and operated Camel Treks Australia offer small group tours through some of the most beautiful parts of the Central Flinders Ranges between March and October, with scheduled and private tours available. Choose to sleep under the stars in fully netted swags or stay in accommodation. The company is also launching 10–20 day international camel safaris in 2016 in The Sahara, Turkey, India and Mongolia. –38–

Luxury TRUE NORTH Adventure Cruises Luxury Adventure Cruises

An adventure on the TRUE NORTH is one of Australia’s most revered holidays! Bigger ships cannot go where we go! Extended periods at sea are specifically excluded and daily activities can include scenic walks, fishing, snorkelling, diving, scenic flights in the ship’s helicopter and cultural events. We deploy comfortable expedition boats (not rubber boats) and discover wilderness in small groups. An AUSTRALIAN crew uniquely chaperones every experience. Beware of imitations and discover for yourself why our guests consistently remark “that’s the best holiday I have ever had!” Each year in December – a very select group of adventurers embark on the TRUE NORTH to explore the rarely visited Louisiade Archipelago. They snorkel over WW II wrecks, hike on Jurassic like islands, battle marauding mackerels and dive on the aptly named Fish City! This year’s special guest is renowned underwater photographer Darren Jew. Cruise includes private jet transfer ex Cairns. Don’t miss this opportunity to discover the secrets of underwater photography – cabins are limited, book now! North Star Cruises Australia Tel: (+61 8) 9192 1829 Email:

Twenty Five Years of Adventure

The new Lizard

Lizard Island is back on the map in the Great Barrier Reef, reopening in June 2015. Lizard is the most northern resort in tropical Queensland, and apart from 24 white sand beaches, it boasts a lagoon and a National Park covering over a thousand hectares. The 40 luxurious suites are all spectacular, as is the five-star cuisine available at the beautiful Salt Water Restaurant, the ambience at the new Driftwood Bar and the range of pampering available in the Essentia Day Spa. Explore the Reef, have a picnic on a secluded beach, watch the sunset over a degustation dinner, go for a paddle in a glass-bottom kayak or just laze by the pool. It has been a long time coming, but the Island will be worth the wait.

Don’t pass on CityPASS

For more than 17 years, smart travellers have been saving money with CityPASS, the programme that has sold more than 13 million booklets in the USA. CityPASS allows visitors to save big money on visiting some of the main attractions of the destination, with Dallas the latest city to join the CityPASS family. Visitors who purchase the Dallas CityPASS ticket booklet will save 41 per cent off admission to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Reunion Tower GeO-Deck, a choice between the Dallas Zoo and The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, and a choice between the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. The CityPASS also allows visitors to skip most main-entrance ticket lines – another huge plus. CityPASS is available in New York City, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Southern California, Tampa Bay and Toronto. –40–

Prehistoric cave art

In 1994, three speleologists unearthed one of the most significant finds in history – a cave in France with walls covered with spectacular Paleolithic art depicting 425 animals including woolly mammoths, lions and horses. The art has since been proven to be 36,000 years old. The Grotte Chauvet-Pont d’Arc has been sealed since prehistoric times, with the art completely undisturbed by humans. The Chauvet cave was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in June 2014. It was out of the question to allow the cave to be opened to the public, so a replica was planned, with the cave and its geological features, the art (both paintings and engravings) and archaeological components such as bones, hearths and prints, reproduced on a scale of 1:1. La Caverne du Pont-d’Arc opened on Anzac Day, 2015, with the site’s five buildings integrated into the environment.

Explore Hawaii’s sky blue waters. Walk its soft sandy shores. Feel the rhythm of island life. Stay at one of our family-friendly Aston hotel or condominium resorts on Oahu, Maui, Kauai or Hawaii Island and enjoy true hospitality and aloha without sacrificing the comfort of home. –42–

+1.808.924.2924 |

PUB: Vacations & Travel (Australia) Issue: Spring 2015 Client: Aston AD: Family Size: 1/2PH (210mm x 146mm) Colors: Full DUE: 5/31

Clear Customs in Honolulu and make an easy connection to one of our 11 U.S. Mainland destinations. Fly non-stop daily from Sydney and 4 times a week from Brisbane to Hawai‘i and onward to New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, San Jose, Oakland & Phoenix. Or transfer to your favourite Hawaiian Island on one of 160 flights daily. For more information or to make a booking, visit us at, or contact your preferred travel agent.

2 x 32kg baggage allowance pp

Island beverages

Hawaiian hospitality

Hawaiian inspired meals

Entertainment, blanket & pillow

Luscious Kerala

India is not all about cities overflowing with life and assaulting the senses, it has so much more to offer. Take Kerala; with the Arabian Sea in the west, the Western Ghats towering to the east and with a network of 44 rivers, Kerala has significant natural beauty. Mosey down the backwaters on charming houseboats. Visit lush hill stations hidden amongst a sea of tea plantations. Laze on a beautiful beach or be mesmerised by an array of colourful festivals. Visit cultural monuments or kick start a health regime at an Ayurvedic retreat. Marvel at exotic wildlife or hike to misty waterfalls. Even better – most of these vacation destinations are only a two-hour drive from the other.


Dine on art

In conjunction with the Art Gallery of NSW, CHISWICK at the Gallery has launched a unique and intimate behind-the-scenes journey of art and food. Begin the experience with a tour of the key artworks in the Gallery with an experienced guide before progressing into the CHISWICK at the Gallery kitchen for a cooking demonstration of signature dishes and a cocktail masterclass. The cooking demonstration will be done by a senior chef, while one of the bartenders will show you how to create the perfect cocktail. This will be followed by lunch in the private dining room with views over the new kitchen garden, Woolloomooloo and Sydney Harbour. The new behind the scenes tour is for groups of 15 or more, perfect for corporate team building, birthday parties or for a great day out with friends.

Kyoto’s luxury ryokan

Since medieval times, Arashiyama has been known as a travel destination for nobility. In this extraordinary place, nestled in the Arashi Gorge near Kyoto, HOSHINOYA Kyoto could well be the most beautiful hideaway in Kyoto, if not Japan. This stunning ryokan-style resort in the Rankyo Gorge is accessed by private boat up the Ôigawa River, and seeks to integrate traditional beauty with all the comforts and freedom of modern life. Guests enjoy the serene views over the river and the mountain beyond, vibrant colours changing with the seasons and views of the serene river and mountains beyond. Take an early morning stroll through the Interior Garden, enjoy a cup of tea on the terrace in the Library Lounge overlooking the Water Garden or savour the creative five-course Japanese kaiseki dinner with an international twist.


Share our spirit of Africa

Sydney based African travel specialists

02 9877 6789

With offices in Australia and Africa, we have the firsthand knowledge to arrange your ideal African holiday.

9 Day Cape Town, Kruger & Vic Falls From

13 Day Best of Kenya and Tanzania






8 Day Uganda Chimps and Gorillas From


Contact us for information on these or more of our incredible African journeys. Shop 3, 2 Crowther Ave, Greenwich, 2065

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Resort California Disneyland Resort’s Diamond Celebration Sparkles


or 60 years, there’s been one place where friends and families shine together…smiles sparkle…and dreams really do come true. And as of 22nd May, when the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration began, those dreams will come true in amazing and unforgettable new ways. Prepare to be dazzled by exciting new entertainment experiences – like the new Paint The Night Parade, Disneyland Forever immersive street-tosky after-dark spectacular, and all-new World of Color: Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney. And that’s only the beginning, because both Parks and the entire Disneyland Resort will shine brighter than ever with a shimmering sprinkle of Diamond Celebration “pixie dust” that sparkles both day and night. So whether you come to relive fond memories or experience the dawning of an exciting new era of Disney magic, now is the time to be here. After all, there’s nothing like a Disney celebration – and there’s no better place on the planet to celebrate than at The Happiest Place on Earth! It’s a celebration so big that the party will last for at least 12 months! ©Disney/Pixar


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ayers rock

Resort Connect with the spiritual heart of Australia


ourney through one of the most astonishing landscapes on earth and marvel at spectacular land formations, uncovering their ancient stories. Witness the expansive night sky awash in a blaze of a million stars. Discover the beauty and cultural treasures of Uluru and Kata Tjuta. With more than 65 tours and experiences in and around Ayers Rock Resort and the National Park the iconic curves of Uluru are just the beginning. Ride a camel across the desert dunes, hop on a Harley, or embark on a base walk of Uluru (Ayers Rock). By night, dine under a canopy of stars at the award-winning Sounds of Silence buffet barbecue dining experience or really spoil yourself and experience Tali Wiru, five-star dining on a star-lit dune leaving nothing more than footprints afterwards. Both the experiences offer the chance to watch the sun set over the pink-hued monolith, and after dinner, tour the sparkling southern night sky with a resident startalker. An oasis in the desert, Sails in the Desert is celebrated for creating a sense of luxury in the heart of Australia’s untamed outback. A new page has been turned in the iconic hotel’s five-star history. A dynamic refurbishment brought the colours, textures and stories of this enigmatic cultural landscape to life in a design statement of inspired elegance. Soaring white sails crown Ayers Rock Resort’s Sails in the Desert hotel, shading luxury five-star rooms and suites. The hotel features an expansive gumtree-lined heated swimming pool, a Day Spa, art gallery and a diversity of modern dining, bar and lounge options. Relax and feast in the brasseriestyle Ilkari Restaurant or let time tick by as you enjoy cocktails, music and culinary temptations in the Walpa Lobby Bar.


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Vomo island

Resort Vomo unveils its stunning newly renovated villas … perfect for your next Vacation


OMO Island Resort has reopened its doors following an extensive renovation to build on its world-class reputation. The Resort, located on a private island in the South Pacific, unveiled 26 totally transformed Hillside and Beachfront Villas, all featuring a sophisticated design, thoughtful layout and ultra-modern amenities. The transformed bathrooms now feature double sinks and oversized free standing bathtubs, currently the only bathtubs the world to be manufactured from recycled marble. Amenities include L’Occitane bath products, while select villas boast indulgent outdoor tubs and showers. The outdoor experience extends to the villa’s private balconies and patios with bespoke dining tables and chairs plus sun lounges or daybeds to enjoy a quintessential Fijian vista. Resort amenities include a PADI Dive Centre, Day Spa, gym, boutique, Kid’s Club, watersports and the use of the exclusive island VOMO Lai Lai, where guests can unwind and relive the days of Crusoe with five-star luxury just a radio call away. VOMO Resort is also a proud member of Pack for a Purpose, an initiative that encourages guests to bring food and school supplies making a lasting impact on communities in travel destinations around the world. August will see the opening of an additional dining outlet at the resort’s signature Rocks Bar where guests already enjoy cocktails and the world famous Fijian sunsets in style. The Rocks Grill will debut with an open-air show kitchen emphasising healthy grilled fare with international influences from Japanese Robata to Tandoori ovens, and a raw bar offering local specialties from the Pacific Rim. This adults-only culinary theatre will be open on selected evenings throughout the week for dining and each evening for sunset cocktails and complimentary canapés. VOMO Island Resort is a short 15-minute flight from Nadi, with its allinclusive five-star service ensuring a carefree vacation. Guests can relax and frolic in the clear blue waters and laze on the soft sand under the Fijian sun.


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Boutique River Cruises

All-inclusive luxury river cruising on the S.S. Maria Theresa


niworld Boutique River Cruise Collection launched its newest Super Ship, the S.S Maria Theresa in March 2015, the company’s most ambitious ship to date. Fashioned in the spirit of her great namesake, the much beloved Maria Theresa, the ship is a masterpiece of epic proportion. The aim of the design team led by visionaries from Uniworld’s awardwinning sister company, the Red Carnation Hotel Collection, was to transport each guest into experiencing the fantasy of living in an 18thcentury Baroque castle, as well as providing them with the latest in luxurious comfort and technology. The striking three-tiered lobby dominated by a sweeping marble staircase with wrought-iron, hand-gilded balustrade and royal crown detailing is accompanied by a hand-painted Tromp L’Oeil-inspired mural, glittering Venetian Murano glass chandelier and a ten-foot original oil on canvas painting of the beloved ruler of Habsburg Empire, evoking feelings of the great hall of 18th-century Schönbrunn palace. Guest areas including the Habsburg Salon, Viennese café, 10-seat Lipizzan cinema and signature Leopard Bar boast original Austrian Croxford and Saunders paintings, hand selected antiques, intricate mosaic tile murals and local specialties sparking conversation and contemplation for guests to indulge in. The S.S. Maria Theresa has 64 elegant staterooms, ten sumptuous suites and one spectacular Royal Suite, and while all are unique, all designed with exacting standards, and in true Uniworld style, each one is unique, but all feature sumptuous fabric-wall coverings combined with rich-handmade carpets, antique furnishings, original art, canopy or four poster custom made-to-order English Savoir beds draped in the finest monogrammed bed linens, and open-air or French balconies. Discover the delights of Uniworld’s newest Super Ship as she cruises through the heart of Maria Theresa’s vast former empire on the Tulips & Windmills, European Jewels, European Holiday Markets, and Grand Christmas & New Year’s Cruise itineraries, all delivering a truly unique and memorable experience.



meanderings BY Ben Farrell

Chennai, formerly known as Madras, shows its colourful chaos in this photo essay.



TAKE A LOOK Clockwise from top: A man peers out the curtain door of his tiny colourful concrete dwelling; A young boy stops his motorbike in a colourful slum laneway to take a sneaky look back at a group of passing girls; A family sits playing games outside their small home in a Chennai slum. The young girls are shy but happy to have their photo taken; Overcrowded trains cause many deaths every year across India. These men are in the ‘air-conditioned’ part of the carriage as they hang out the door dodging passing railway signs, posts and other obstructions Opening image: The orange sun sets on a local village in Chennai as the cows gather around the small street-side temple


peaceful humanity Clockwise from left: Indian ‘traffic’ as hay-laden oxen come down the wrong side of the highway towards our car; An iconic South Indian temple spire catches the fading Chennai sunlight with its colourful and intricate carvings depicting the Gods; Street vendors sit in silence amongst the market chaos


stand and gaze through the misty and steamy condensation on my hotel window, looking down at the street scene below. My air-conditioner rages against the Indian summer heat and I begin to mentally brace myself to step outside on to the dry dusty streets below. I prepare for the assault on my senses as colour, sound, smells and heat blur and dance to the sound of a Sanskrit Indian tune that wafts and echoes from the local temple walls. I’m in Chennai (Madras) and my hotel is an oasis of cool and calm compared to the chaos of the scene outside. Inside soft traditional music plays and fragrant incense wafts through the hotel lobby in an attempt to mask the smell of mould that grows ever so fast in every dark and dank humid corner. Yet every now and then a waft from the outside makes its way in. A smell of charcoal, spice and humidity – something distinctly India – exotic and foreign. Below me I watch the thrum and melody of interweaving people. A moving, pulsing single mass of bright sari-clad bodies swarms the streets like bright goldfish in a rapid stream. Auto-rickshaws buzz and rattle along corrugated and bumpy roads, motorbikes beep and take to the footpath to get through the crowds and old weary men in long robes lethargically pedal barefoot and silent on antique bikes as if on a Sunday ride through the park, oblivious to their surroundings. On an Indian street there is no boundary between human, machine or animal. Street vendors blend

with traffic pushing food carts and wayward cows cross the road unassumingly and without haste. The movement halts briefly for the cows to cross. They are after all sacred in India. Humans are not so revered – so do not assume the same level of respect. India is the only country where I’ve been stuck in traffic as a pedestrian – literally unable to find a gap between vehicles and people to cross a road. However, one hot Chennai afternoon, I left my cool oasis, camera in hand and walked. I passed the touts and cab drivers at the entrance to the hotel and just kept walking. I was greeted by children with wide eyes and big smiles, families emerged from their concrete homes peering through their improvised curtain doors wanting to have their photo taken. The slum was a labyrinth that would suddenly open up to common large expanses, where families would gather to a communal TV, play cricket and just sit and watch people go by. As the dense orange sun finally set, the streets became a blaze of kerosene lamps and local markets that seemed to spring up out of nowhere. Vendors sat quietly in the warm glow behind mounds of colourful and exotic fruits and people lined up to give offerings at the local south Indian temples whose bright and ornate pinnacle roofs reached out from the chaotic streets in which they were placed and towards the expanse of peaceful twilight sky above. I don’t think this scene has changed in a hundred years. The interesting thing is, by Western standards, this is abject –59–

passing parade Clockwise from bottom left: A school girl happily hand-pumps fresh water for her family in her local village; A local man calls out to me to take his photo. He is washing down his cows so figured he’d also give himself wash whilst he’s at it!; A mother and daughter smile for a photo before jumping on the family scooter and heading in to school; A vendor walks along the sand at Chennai’s endless ‘Marina Beach’ selling bright pink fairy floss to beach-goers and fishermen

poverty. Not many other countries bombard you with such a juxtaposition of rich and poor incongruently placed next to each other. Five-star hotels stand tall and proud next to dirty overpasses where families live on the street and slum towns with no running water. However, despite this – people living here are happy. In India everyone is selling or making something to support life. No one is complaining; people are living. I realised poverty is subjective. By the filter of Western society, these people should be angry, hard done by and almost willing to give up on life. But they’re not. I’ve been invited in to peoples’ homes for dinner, played street cricket with the local children, gone to local temples and been happily blessed by the local priests and welcomed by many happy faces. It has shifted my perspective on life and altered my perception of suffering. It truly is an amazing country that will shift your mindset and cause you to see the world anew. No matter how often you return to India, it is a country that always amazes you at every turn. A complete assault on the senses, India makes you dizzy and completely overwhelmed. Every trip presents something you’ve never seen; an elephant –60–

on a freeway, a man bathing with his cows, thieving monkeys and more. Every scene is too much to take in, too much to be described in words and too much for any camera lens to capture. It must be experienced raw. • Photography by Ben Farrell. *Ben used a Nikon D90, with the Nikon 18-105 DX and Nikon 55-300 DX lenses.

travel facts Further information India Tourism:


R r r r

global galleries Compiled by Helen Hayes


Museum of American Art, New York, USA

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

The rich storytelling traditions of South and Southeast Asia will be explored in a new NGV exhibition titled Gods, Heroes and Clowns: Performance and Narrative in South and Southeast Asian Art, with more than 50 rarely seen works from India, Thailand, Laos, Indonesia and Cambodia. Highlights include a Buddhist narrative scroll depicting the Vessantara Jataka (Pha yao Phra Wet) from Thailand. Over 30 metres long, it is one of only two in Australia and will be displayed in its entirety for the first time. Also on display is an Indian narrative cloth banner (phad) depicting the legend of Pabuji, a deified Rajasthan folk hero, in exceptional detail and vibrant colour. The cloth is considered a dwelling of the god and forms the backdrop for a bhopa (storyteller and priest) and bhopi (the priest’s wife) to narrate and sing the legend of Pabuji to a village audience throughout a single night. The exhibition is on until 30 August, 2015. Above: INDONESIAN - Comical soldier, wayang golek cepak puppet (early 20th century – mid-20th century) north coast Java, Indonesia; painted and gilt-wood, bamboo, wool, silk, cotton, cotton (thread and string) and metallic thread; (a-c) 65.0 x 44.0 x 10.0 cm irreg. (overall) National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased, 1973


In one of the most anticipated openings of 2015, the Whitney Museum of American Art opened its new nine-storey building in downtown Manhattan’s Meatpacking district in May. The building, designed by super architect Renzo Piano and situated between the High Line and the Hudson River, features a dramatic cantilevered entrance along Gansevoort Street. The Museum was founded by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1930. The opening exhibition is America is Hard to See, on until 27 September, 2015, featuring over 600 works by 400 artists spanning the period from 1900 to today. On 2 October, 2015, the Whitney will present Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist, showcasing two decades of the paintings of Archibald Motley (1891–1981), one of the most important figures associated with the Harlem Renaissance. Motley’s dynamic depictions of modern life in his home town, Chicago, as well as in Jazz Age Paris and Mexico. The exhibition will run until 17 January 2016.

Above: Archibald J. Motley Jr., Gettin’ Religion, 1948. Oil on canvas, 40 x 48.375 inches (101.6 x 122.9 cm). Collection of Mara Motley, MD, and Valerie Gerrard Browne. Image courtesy of the Chicago History Museum, Chicago, Illinois. © Valerie Gerrard Browne.

Above: Georgia O’Keeffe, 1887 1986 Music, Pink and Blue No. 2, 1918; Oil on canvas, 35 x 29 15/16in. (88.9 x 76 cm), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Emily Fisher Landau in honor of Tom Armstrong 91.90 ©2014 Georgia O’Keeffe Museum / Artists Rights Society ( ARS), New York


Garage Contemporary Art Museum, Moscow, Russia

Garage Museum of Contemporary Art opened its brand new premises in Gorky Park in June 2015, after being housed in a temporary space designed by Shigeru Ban. The Museum, established in 2008 by Dasha Zhukova (girlfriend of billionaire Roman Abramovich), is now located in the Soviet-era Vremena Goda pavilion, which underwent an extensive renovation by designer Rem Koolhaas. Garage reflects on current developments in Russian and international culture, and its collection is the first to focus on Russian contemporary art from the 1950s through to the present. The first exhibition is Katharina Grosse: yes no why later, with the German artist creating one of the largest site-specific installations ever seen in Moscow. Challenging perceptions of what painting is, the installation yes no why later will metamorphose the 800 square-metre exhibition hall into a spectacular, immersive environment through which visitors can meander. Producing the work specifically for the Pavilion, the result is a haunting, unearthly, ‘living picture’ that visitors can move through, composed of soil and trees sculpted into surprising formations and contaminated by vivid, raw colour. The exhibition is on until 9 August, 2015. Above: Katharina Grosse: yes no why later

Oita Prefectural Art Museum, Oita, Japan

Above: Marcel Wanders, Eurasian Garden Spirits


The Oita Prefectural Art Museum (OPAM) is the first newly-built prefectural art museum in Japan to open since 2006. Open since April 2015, the Museum was designed by Shigeru Ban, and aims to stimulate all five senses of its visitors, striding between East and West, traditional and contemporary. It is striking, with walls that open up the art to the outside world. Marcel Wanders’ Eurasian Garden was commissioned for the opening and was inspired by the historical narrative of Dutch explorers first arriving in Japan in the 16th century. Other highlights will be Mai Miyake’s World Cuckoo-Clock, called the WORLD could be a safer place CLOCK on the Oita Sightseeing Wall, Where All Gods Have One Name and Still Waters Run Deep. Art museums tend to have an air of exclusivity, but OPAM will be the kind of place people feel free to stop by for a coffee, to stroll through and to admire.

in brief

The Broad, Los Angeles, USA

The Broad, the new contemporary art museum in downtown Los Angeles, will open its brand spanking new doors on Sunday, 20 September, 2015. Located across from the stunning Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Museum of Contemporary Art, The Broad, built by philanthropists and long-time art collectors Eli and Edythe Broad will house more than 2,000 pieces (most in a vault-like store), a stunning research library and a public plaza that will feature century-old olive trees and an open lawn. The Broad’s inaugural exhibition is entirely focused on the renowned contemporary art collection of Eli and Edythe Broad. Organised in a roughly chronological timeline, the exhibition will begin with Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg in the 50s and continues to the heart of the collection, 60s Pop Art by Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha and Roy Lichtenstein. The exhibition concludes with 70s and 80s works by Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jeff Koons. Above: Dumas weeping wall

Australasia’s international art fair, Sydney Contemporary, returns in September with the major biennial art event taking over the Carriageworks precinct. The event will feature over 75 respected galleries, 30 percent of which are international, including China, Japan, Singapore, UK, USA, Chile and New Zealand. It’s on 10-13 September, 2015. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the first publication of one of Britain’s best known and most-loved children’s books, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. To mark the anniversary, the V&A Museum of Childhood’s display The Alice Look will bring together garments, photographs, rare editions and illustrations to show Alice as both a follower of fashion and a trendsetter. It’s on until 1 November, 2015. Over 20 sculptures from international museums and private collections by the Spanish artist Joan Miró (1893-1983) will adorn the freely accessible gardens of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam this summer. The Miró works are surrounded by original formal garden styles, historical building fragments, sculptures, lawns and ponds. The Miró in the Rijksmuseum Gardens exhibition is on until 11 October, 2015.



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eat up in the

big easy BY Lorin Gaudin

While history seeps from every brick in the Old French Quarter in New Orleans, the dining scene is thoroughly modern.


liché though it may be, there is no escaping the palpable sense of history that skates across the skin while touring the French Quarter in New Orleans. Listen closely for the faint click of 18th-century shoe heels on the slate walkways; swoon to the scent of jasmine, the musty Mississippi and myriad food smells; take comfort in the knowledge that being well fed today is as easy as it was 100 years ago.


The Vieux Carré (“Old Quarter”) is in equal parts the same and yet utterly changed from what is was long ago. The constants – food, drink and personality – continue to dominate, and many of the ancient buildings are getting long-awaited facelifts or full-on makeovers. So too French Quarter dining, heavily rooted in tradition, is going through some changes, and, yet, staying very familiar, visible, present and delectable. All of this teeter-tottering means


there is a fresh look and taste in what can only be dubbed the “New Carre.” Long-time restaurateur Ralph Brennan recently took on the bold challenge of restoring the original Brennan’s on Royal Street. As the old was stripped away like layers of an onion, the project became a glorious labour of love. The result is a stunning restoration both inside and out. The space feels old, looks newish and is jaw-dropping. There is now an exterior window, punched into the wall facing Royal Street, where Executive Chef Slade Rushing and team can be seen stirring, mixing, rushing (pun intended) to push out an old-school turtle soup and a new-school smoked squab-foie gras gumbo. Breakfast, a Brennan’s cornerstone, remains menu heavy with eggs Sardou, Benedict and Hussarde, but there is also egg yolk carpaccio, a decadent escargot omelette and grillades done with crispy veal cheek. The quest to merge old and new is furthered by Brennan’s recent purchase of the 101-year-old Napoleon House, where he’s committed to honouring the venue’s cherished past. Around the corner from Brennan’s, a building that those of a certain age would remember as Melius’ is now Salon by Sucré. Known for his delicate patisserie and confections, this new space is Chef Tariq Hanna’s homage to haute cuisine, a reflection of his passion for presentation of dishes both savoury and sweet. The interior design is French mid-century modern, quirky and smart. Upstairs is the place for afternoon tea service, a glass of wine from a broad, well thought-out list and a menu of daily protein preparations that can be ordered as an appetiser or a main course. Desserts come at the hand of Sous Chef Emily Crotty, and are all about twists on the familiar. Downstairs it’s the macaron madness and chocolates of Hanna and business partner Joel Dondis’ Sucré. Closer to Jackson Square the “steaks” have gotten higher –68–

with the addition of Doris Metropolitan and its juicy, dry-aged beef. A loving renovation of a 19th-century building, Doris, a contemporary steakhouse, has a stylish, modern interior, while offering poised, Old World service. The “Beetroot Supreme” starter turns a giant whole beet into a vessel for cheese-andwalnut filling, crème fraiche glaze and mascarpone-ricotta cream. Meat matters span a range of cuts, from the usual (rib eye, strip and porterhouse) to the unique (“Classified Cut,” Japanese and American Wagyu). There are also finfish and chicken options, as well as sides (truffle fries, please) and an enormous, beautifully curated wine list. Desire Oyster Bar at the Royal Sonesta was renovated and reopened with flare a few months ago. The famous marquis lights remain, though the interior blends modern and iconic, drawing on the number of architectural styles throughout the French Quarter. The tin ceiling and tile floors are set off by a fancy new bar, high tables and a sleek char-grill station. The menu also mixes stalwart and contemporary, with Executive Chef Corey Jacobs smartly putting his “Creole Trio” (jambalaya, red beans and rice, gumbo) alongside a “Crawfish and Fried Green Tomato Benedict” with crawfish Hollandaise. The Bombay Club and Broussard’s were recent acquisitions of the restaurant group Creole Cuisine Concepts. To revitalise these two important culinary institutions, the owners have put in charge chefs with incredible backgrounds who give diners something new to talk about. At The Bombay Club, Nathan Richard (formerly of Commander’s Palace) and Ben McCauley (Restaurant R’evolution) have maintained the spirit of this long-popular gastropub with ramped-up Louisiana flavours in his boudin Scotch eggs with collard greens and cracklin’crusted fish and chips. Executive Chef Neal Swidler (an Emeril’s vet) folds Asian tastes and contemporary local style into Broussard’s classic menu. Evidence the “Crispy Shrimp Toast”

“A loving renovation of a 19th-century building, Doris, a contemporary steakhouse, has a stylish, modern interior, while offering poised, Old World service”

southern morsels Clockwise from left: Butterbean Tortellini, Angeline; Meauxbar; Scotch Egg, The Bombay Club; Goat Cheese Tart, Meauxbar Opening image: Brennan’s Egg Yolk Carpaccio with Grilled Shrimp


with pickled okra slaw and a Creole tomato glaze, rosemaryand-mustard-crusted “Black Drum Rosalie” and coconut crème brûlée. Executive Chef Alex Harrell, notable for his cooking skill and charm at Sylvain, recently opened his own French Quarter spot, Angeline (1032 Chartres Street). More approachable in interior design than the previous fine-dining tenant (Stella!), the menu is likewise lighter, easier and more familiar with some Southern and European notes. Tender and properly toothy pasta turns up as “Butterbean Tortellini” with red-eye gravy and parmesan, while “Mississippi Rabbit Leg Milanese” is accompanied by smoked carrot puree, spoon bread, bacon braised collards and tomato gravy. Desserts are coolly comfortable – fritters, cakes, ice creams, pie – with textural garnishes. Recently retooled Meauxbar, a local favourite, is under new ownership and has been given spiffed-up new life by the team compiled by restaurateur Robert LeBlanc. Helming the kitchen is knife-sharp smart, massively talented chef Kristen Essig. Contemporary, 21st-century bistro interior; a swank, wellstocked bar; and Essig’s love for locally foraged product blend with her deft cooking that turns up in dishes like the stellar pork belly and scallop appetiser or the hearty bolognese over spaetzle entrée. At dessert the ever-changing flavours of dacquoise are always spectacular. Water-stained, cracked, crumbly and firmly on the reinvigoration-restoration trail, the “New Carre” is at once unchanged and at the same time ever-changing, but there is one constant – the French Quarter dining scene is more delicious than ever. • Photography by various establishments

travel facts GETTING THERE Qantas flies daily from Sydney to New Orleans connecting via Dallas with American Airlines. Delta Airlines flies to New Orleans via Los Angeles • Qantas: • Delta: WHERE TO DINE • Brennan’s: +1-504/525-9711; • Napoleon House: +1-504/524-9752; • Sucré: +1-504/267-7098; • Doris Metropolitan: +1-504/267-3500; • Desire Oyster Bar: +1-504/553-2281; • The Bombay Club: +1-504/577-2237; • Broussard’s: +1-504/581-3866; • Angeline: +1-504/308-3106; • Meaux Bar: +1-504/569-9979; WHEN TO GO The best time to visit is during Spring (March-May) and Autumn (September-November) when the weather is the mildest.

in the red Clockwise from above: Desire Oyster Bar; Sucré


FURTHER INFORMATION New Orleans CVB: Discover America:

Mask optional. Fun inevitable.

In New Orleans, it’s Fat Tuesday every day of the week. Perhaps it’s because the city is the birthplace of jazz and the cocktail. There’s something to amuse and delight around every cobblestoned corner, especially the tax-free shopping savings. Visit and start planning your trip today.

Hip, hip, New York BY Brannon Gerling

Grab a beer – craft of course – and settle in to read all about the hot spots of hipster New York.




ew York City: the mouth that drank up the Old World’s brimming desires. Where numberless dreams have been answered and at once romantically lost when their dreamers fashion their realities. We’ll travel from west to east within the Village zone to find an exotic kind of social complexity baked in the urgency to create and forge new fantasies. There are many ways to go but only one right way, your way. So bring all your desires, all your fears, joys and discontents. Across these streets, where jazz nocturnally blazes trails both forgotten and ‘found’, across the bending lanes of Bob Dylan’s Jones Street and Carrie Bradshaw’s Perry Street stoop – paradoxes abound in one of the most tenacious of places. Head from the West Village to the East Village and the Lower East Side (LES), hopping the L Train or trekking the bridge into Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where hip culture is defined and works savagely towards urban transformations.

The hipster modality hasn’t changed much since vintage times. Contemporary hipsters are similar to the hippies of the Sexual Revolution because they still represent things made in small batches and intended for esoteric audiences. You might see them in gold leggings or red jeans, knotted wristbands, mirrored sunglasses and Shell Toe Adidas, wishing they were Hunter S. Thompson or some character in a Quentin Tarantino movie. You might catch them making gourmet pickles, drinking green juice until they splurge on beer and burgers, or playing pinball at their favorite dive. Broadly speaking, hipsters occupy today’s preferred stereotype: a digital-bohemian paradox of urban developments sourced in the stylistic intercourse of funk and hip-hop with video game culture and indie diagrammatics. Underneath it all, hipsterism completes the contentious desire to transgress status quo and become handmade.

The primordial question; what is “hipster”? Hipster-like substances forcefully go against the mainstream until they become mainstream and thereby find new expressions. Back in the 1940s, African-American communities used the term hip to describe youths who smoked ganja, occupied the jazz scenes, and loosened the knots around their waists. Harry ‘The Hipster’ Gibson, a white pianist from Harlem with all black bandmates, takes most of the credit for coining the word.


itchy pigs Below: A fantastic art scene outside TBA electronica club in Williamsburg Opposite page from top: The Artists & Fleas market is a good place to find a funky gift for a friend back home. Buy straight from the artists; Pies n Thighs is a great stop for some comfort food cooked for gourmet city folk Opening spread: Grab a brew at the beer station off the dance floor at the Brooklyn Bowl

chess and foosball tables; with old couches that slump snugly against the bands next to the bar, which serves nuts and local craft brews – a maniacally upward movement in NYC and The States in general. Try Brooklyn’s Sixpoint and California’s Stone ales, amongst others; they’re relatively cheap (around $US7 a fill), aromatically seductive, always frothy on tap, and – grab your bankcard before you jet – wily-strong.

The East Village and LES The East Village and Lower East Side feel permanently broken-in and exclusive like an after-party. There’s a cagey venue with the tiniest sign that reads “The Stone” on the corner of Avenue C and 2nd Street that artistically typifies the East Village. It’s a not-for-profit audio-experimental space that books on a curatorial basis. Admission is $US15 per set and you can hear cutting-edge virtuoso harmonics by Medeski, Martin and Wood’s side projects when they’re in town. All ages are welcome, but there are no refreshments, “only music.” Gather beer from the kiosk across the street if you enjoy superfluous stimulation: the melodies can be quite heady. Other essential music venues include Mercury Lounge, Bowery Ballroom, 151, Arlene’s Grocery, and lastly, the Pink Pony, for a café-styled evening. Close to The Stone at 54 East 1st Street, you’ll find lovely little Prune on a quiet block to see what the old gastronomic favourite is (old by NYC standards). Chef Gabrielle Hamilton has new additions. Favour a Mariner at brunch – one of eleven Bloody Marys – made with homemade lemon vodka, clam juice and olives. There are creative and classic dishes, like grilled pigeon with warmed parsley sauce and seeded toast, or grilled handmade lamb sausages and Malpeque oysters served with peasant bread. But the fried sweetbreads topped with bacon and capers are dear to the clientele.

Have Yourself a Little Jazz, Westside Houston Street (pronounced hows-ton) straddles the zone, running through the West Village, SoHo (South of Houston), NoHo (North of Houston), the Lower East Side, and the East Village; add Chinatown and Little Italy a few blocks southwards. You can cover Houston knowing that there are unique eateries, like Snack and Westville; offbeat theatres, like IFC and the Angelika; and other recherché persuasions on both sides. Despite myriad influence and continuous gentrifications, the West side still retains many original faces, plus the world’s most authentic jazz platform. In the West Village, you can fire and cool your mind on the veracious melodies of players all through the night. Jazz is as diverse and pervasive as a continent. So before or after heading east, check the Blue Note’s and Village Vanguard’s schedules. This is jazz master’s territory – where Maceo Parker, John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Christian McBride and others frequent, altering your musical DNA and reinventing your euphonic palate. For more casual yet equally authentic vibes, try the Zinc Bar, the 55 Bar to catch Mike or Leni Stern, or wait in line across the street to enjoy a set or two at cavernous Smalls. All these venues charge a cover from $US10, but nearby Fat Cat, the roguish brother venue of Smalls, covers for $US3. It’s a big frenetic basement space for both young and gray (but mostly young), filled with billiard, Ping-Pong, shuffleboard,

Williamsburg+ Taking the Williamsburg Bridge eastward is like riding a hipster hoverboard; maybe because hipsters always seem like they’re travelling ‘back to the future’. Nevertheless, find yourself some old-time bonhomie and you got all the aesthetic perks that go with the nifty vibes. You can be sure that upon entering, say, the Music Hall of Williamsburg (MHWB) or the Brooklyn Bowl for a great band – you’re guaranteed to hear some of the best live music in the world. Schedules are extensive and continuously updated. For ticketed shows, buy in advance to avoid waiting in line, wondering if you’ll get in next to the smokers already on their second drink. (There’s always the iconic view of the Manhattan skyline along the East River.) Recent acts to have played at the MHWB include Oh Land, Hurray for the Riff Raff and Conor Oberst. If you dig a more motley lunar experience, head to the Brooklyn Bowl. Rolling Stone magazine once said, “It blows our minds…it’s one of the most incredible places on Earth.” When it opened, I forgot about travelling for a while. There are 16 lanes with fine leather couches that run alongside the stage, a glorified diner at the back with some of the best fried chicken in the five boroughs and a great smaller-venue schedule (the Bowl holds 600). With a local beer list mostly stocked by Brooklyn Brewery (which lies literally right around the bend), a dark and diverting atmosphere and acts like Toots and the Maytals, Soul Live, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, and DJs like Questlove and Q-Tip, even if you don’t know who’s –75–

playing – if you like brazen music and sonically unified crowds, you’ll have an unearthly good time. It’s been open since 2009, but it’s scant wonder London and Las Vegas now have Bowls of their own. Williamsburg itself is the hipster capital of the universe. The neighbourhood is perhaps best enjoyed during weekday nights or sunny Sundays. Bedford Avenue, the main drag, is thronged with funky cafés, bars, and restaurants; and there are park events and flea markets on adjacent streets sporting BK’s overhauling urban art scene. You’ll also find it easier to grab a table at some of the more popular restaurants in town. For famous Brooklyn-style pizza head to Motorino on Broadway or Roberta’s further afield. For upscale, try Traif or Xixa and for casual go for Pies ‘n’ Thighs and Samurai Mama. All these spots are well-loved and serve ambrosial dishes at prices that should afford you. When the streets of Williamsburg swell, there’s more leeway a few blocks north in Greenpoint. Find Dirck the Norseman (named after the first settler in Greenpoint; a Scandinavian ship builder with a killer name), a new breezy brewpub worth a stop (especially since Brooklyn Brewery only does group tours these days). Dirck crafts and carries some excellent brews. Brooklyn Magazine ranks their Tupelo Double IPA on its recent top ten list, detailing, “it pours a vibrant orange, with a nice balance between its soft melon and floral aroma, smooth piney bitterness and sweet, earthy finish…truly an angel in the first degree.” You can also get Other Half, Grimm Artisanal, Peekskill, Finback, and Singlecut brews around town. They’re some of the best crafts you’ll find east of The Lord Nelson Brewery at The Rocks in Sydney and west of Belgium. There’s a craft brew revolution here, if you haven’t heard, which apparently stalks alongside sappy politics, and, the better the brew the wetter the gut. But whether you’re having a beer or not: always keep your dreams warm and your mind, doggedly cool. • Photography by Brannon Gerling

where’s waldo Above: Wide street view on the south end of Williamsburg, just a block or two from the Hudson River; A pretty untypical piece for an untypical part of Brooklyn


travel facts getting there United Airlines, Qantas, American Airlines and Virgin all offer a number of flights from selected capital cities within Australia. • United Airlines: • Qantas: • Virgin Australia: where to stay The Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg is an aesthetically pleasing place to jump off to many restaurants and venues in West Brooklyn; with skyline views. when to go New York should be experienced at all times of year, but you might skip the winter and save yourself luggage space and gain some more sunlight. outlet shopping Visit Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, the world’s largest collection of luxury outlets, for great bargains on designer and name brands. further information For great Village insight, pick up a free copy of the Village Voice around town: See The Bowery Presents for music venue schedules: For culture and insider info read Brooklyn Magazine: For free or cheap events in Brooklyn and beyond, see Brokelyn: NYC Go: Discover America:

First Date with

chicago BY Helen Hayes

For first time visitors to this city by the lake, it is seriously impressive. So much so that you can’t help but fall in love at first sight. Here are ten of the best things to do on a first visit.




hicago. The name conjures up thoughts of Al Capone, the Irish, the band (they are the second highest selling American band of all time behind the Eagles), the Cubs, and of course, the musical – cue All That Jazz. Chicago sits on the southeastern corner of the ridiculously large Lake Michigan, which has a shoreline of 42 kilometres and a swag of white sand beaches, all caressed by striking blue water that wouldn’t be out of place on a tropical island. The city was completely redesigned by an inspired gent named Daniel Burnham after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and now is a showpiece with vast parklands, innovative architecture and magnificent galleries and museums. Chicago was home to the first skyscraper (the Home Insurance Building in 1885), had the tallest building in the world for decades, yet hasn’t thrown out tradition in favour of innovation; the scoreboard at the 101-year-old Wrigley Field is operated manually, one of two in major league baseball to do so. Add to that the city’s 77 neighbourhoods, the historic elevated train lines, the hotter than Hades dining scene and the many famous jazz clubs, and you have one incredible vacation destination.

Architecture Foundation River Cruise While the name might not sound like the hottest tour in town, be assured that it is. Chicago’s First Lady Cruises operates the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise on a fleet of five classic vessels reminiscent of the graceful wooden cruising yachts of the 1920s. We settle in on the open-air top deck for the 90-minute cruise, with a highly qualified guide delivering a fascinating commentary on the city’s history, along with descriptions of about 50 buildings, including the Wrigley Building (yes that Wrigley), the Boeing Building, Trump Tower, Chicago Tribune, Willis (formerly Sears) Tower, Merchandise Mart and the Mercantile Exchange. It is a great way to look at the skyline, with the vessel cruising on three arms of the River


and passing under 13 of the city’s movable bridges. The tour slogan is ‘90 minutes of amazing’ and we’d have to agree. Make sure your camera is fully charged.

The Ledge on Willis Tower Standing on what feels like air, 412 metres above the bustling streets of Chicago is a little daunting, but it is a box that must be ticked. Willis Tower, formerly known as Sears Tower, rises 108-storeys above the city and the 99th floor is home to the Skydeck, giving heart-palpitating views over the lake, beaches and city. To really get the heart rate up go out on The Ledge – glass boxes that extend out from the building for more than a metre. It’s all glass but believe me, taking that first hesitant step out into what feels like nothing is slightly scary. Once there, record the experience for posterity and look down, way down, at the people going about their business like ants doing the Queen’s bidding. We go back again that night which is just as exciting. For more eye-popping views, head to the 94th floor of 360 Chicago (formerly the John Hancock Observatory) and enjoy brilliant views, particularly over the beaches to the north, then strap in to Tilt, a horrifying glass contraption that tips you out from the side of the building, giving you a face-first view.

wriggle room Clockwise from below: Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise; Luna, the rescued otter at Shedd Aquarium; Going to a Cubs game is a family affair Opening image: View over Chicago’s Oak Street beach, the stunning Lake Michigan and some of Chicago’s soaring buildings, including Willis Tower and the beautiful black 360 Chicago

every run and every catch as the Cubs flog the Phillies. We also do a tour of Soldier Field, the home of the Chicago Bears in the NFL. It’s a beautiful field with a Colosseum vibe, built as a memorial to fallen soldiers – not just of the USA but also of her allies.

Ride the L The city’s famous “L” which stands for ‘elevated’ train line, has been immortalised in many movies and TV shows including The Fugitive, ER, While You Were Sleeping, The Hunter and The Sting. We ride the Brown Line out to Armitage, boarding at Quincy station, which has been beautifully restored to its original condition circa 1897. It’s a bit strange looking through the sleepers and seeing the traffic buzzing down below. We watch the city rattle by, getting off at Armitage which has some quirky boutiques and galleries and a café called the Blue Door Farm Stand which Oprah once owned. Surprisingly, they serve flat white coffee! We stroll to Lincoln Park, stopping to look at the striking statue of Ulysses S. Grant, former civil war hero and US President. The Park is vast, and includes a historic cemetery, zoo and the Conservatory. It is great for people watching, with the lakeside path a scenic distraction.

Park it

Shedd Aquarium Shedd Aquarium is a pleasant walk through Grant Park from Michigan Avenue on the lake foreshore. It’s home to 32,000 aquatic animals from over 1,500 species of fish, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, birds and mammals from around the world. We sign up for something special, a Beluga Encounter, and watch trainers interact with these unusual looking small whales. The trainers don’t want the beautiful belugas to jump through hoops or leap out of the water; all the techniques allow the staff to do health checks on the whales and make sure they are healthy everywhere from teeth to tail. These creatures really are beautiful and seem to smile at us. While there, check out the other incredible exhibitions and visit the cutest inhabitant at Shedd – a rescued sea otter pup called Luna.

Catch a game at Wrigley Field This is hallowed ground; Wrigley Field, home to the Chicago Cubs. We seep into the ground in a wash of people wearing blue and red and are lucky to be invited into a corporate box which has a perfect line of sight onto the pitch. We meet Fergie Jenkins, a famous Cub who is in the Baseball Hall of Fame, we have a proper Chicago hot dog and we go and sit in the stands in the shadows of the manual scoreboard and cheer

Grant Park, named after the aforementioned Ulysses S. Grant and designed by Daniel Burnham to be over 100 hectares of landscaped green space that ‘belonged to the people’, was separates the downtown area of the town from Lake Michigan. The park’s highlights include the Art Institute of Chicago, Buckingham Fountain and in the southern corner, Millennium Park. Millennium Park features a magic blend of architecture, gardens and eye-catching public art, with the most visited being what is officially known as Cloud Gate, which was British artist Anish Kapoor’s first installation in the USA. It was inspired by liquid mercury, but looks like a coffee bean; hence its nickname, ‘The Bean’. It is the place to take selfies, as the city is reflected in the silvery mirror-like surface of the intriguing sculpture. Also visit Lurie Garden, the Crown Fountain and the Frank Gehrydesigned Deconstructivism-styled performance stage known as the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. In the southwest corner of the Park, we are struck by the poignant Agora art installation, which has over 100 three-metre tall headless cast iron torsos, walking in different directions.

Magnificent Mile While Grant Park is the playground of the city, the Magnificent Mile is the epicentre of shopping, dining, history and accommodation. Located along a 13-block stretch of North Michigan Avenue from the Chicago River to Oak Street, the Mile is indeed magnificent with over 460 shops, 275 restaurants, 60 hotels including the five-star Peninsula Chicago and attractions sewn like gems along a billowing cloak. Perhaps the most famous building is the historic Water Tower, which was built between 1867 and 1869 for Chicago’s municipal water system to house a huge iron standpipe used to regulate water pressure. It is one of few buildings to survive the Great Fire, as was the Pumping Station to the east – with both buildings designed by William W. Bovington. Admire the beauty of these buildings before shopping at luxury brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci or Burberry, then pop into the Peninsula Hotel for afternoon tea. –81–

Museum of Science and Industry One of the largest science museums in the world, the Museum of Science and Industry has over 35,000 artefacts in 37,161 square metres of hands-on exhibits designed to spark scientific inquiry and creativity. Highlights for us include a German U-505 submarine that was captured by the Americans in 1944, a 999 steam locomotive, an old United Airlines Boeing 727 and a Pioneer Zephyr Train that you swear is about to pull out from the station with a honk. We are mesmerised by ‘Science Storms’, a huge exhibit that reveals the extraordinary science behind some of nature’s most powerful and compelling phenomena, and ‘YOU! The Experience’, which explores the human mind, body and spirit.

Art Institute of Chicago Lovers of all things art will know that the Art Institute of Chicago is one of the world’s leading art museums. Just down from Millennium Park and the Crown Fountains, two giant carved lions stand guard on the museum, and rightly so. Inside these halls you’ll find everything from the latest work by contemporary artists to ancient Chinese bronzes, as well as an internationallyacclaimed collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works by Monet, Renoir, Degas, van Gogh and other painters of the period. The Renzo Piano-designed Modern Wing is devoted to a stunning collection of 20th- and 21st-century art.

Lake Michigan The lake is an unsung star of the city and is never far out of view. Stroll along the Lakefront Trail, along the lakeside promenade, or hire one of the Divvy bikes – a sensational bike sharing program with thousands of bikes at hundreds of stations across the city available 24 hours a day. Each station has a touchscreen kiosk, station map, and a docking system that releases bikes using a member key or ride code easily purchased using your credit or debit card. Chill out on one of the beaches along the lakefront with Oak Street one of the best with fabulous views of the city skyline. It has an interesting history – Johnny Weismuller – he of Tarzan fame, worked as a lifeguard here in his youth. The biggest attraction along the lakefront is Navy Pier, a veritable treasure trove of entertainment, museums, activities, restaurants and shops. The view from the Ferris wheel is worthy of Instagramming. • Photography by Choose Chicago and various establishments


golden glow Above: The ‘L’ train at sunset

travel facts Getting there United Airlines flies to Los Angeles with numerous flights to Chicago daily. Qantas flies to Los Angeles connecting with American Airlines to Chicago. Delta Airlines flies into Los Angeles connecting to Chicago. • United: • Qantas: • Delta Airlines: Getting around Cabs are cheaper than in Australia and are easy to find. To ride the L (Elevated) train, purchase tickets at the stations: Things to do • Architecture Foundation River Cruise: • Skydeck: • 360 Chicago: • Shedd Aquarium: • Wrigley Field: • Magnificent Mile: • Museum of Science and Industry: • Art Institute of Chicago: • Grant Park: Where to stay • The Peninsula Chicago is an elegant cocoon of style and tranquillity well positioned just off the Magnificent Mile: • The Chicago Hilton is smack bang on South Michigan Avenue opposite Grant Park and has excellent rooms and a colourful history: outlet shopping Visit Chicago Premium Outlets for name brands or head to Woodfield Mall, the largest shopping centre in the Chicagoland.; woodfield-mall Further information Choose Chicago: Discover America:

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The glamour of Los Angeles, the bright lights and desert setting of Las Vegas and the excitement of N.Y.C. come together to create a relaxed snapshot of this amazing country. Explore the infamous federal penitentiary located on Alcatraz Island and tour behind-the-scenes of The GRAMMY Museum with a Local Expert.

From San Francisco to Las Vegas, discover glorious cities, wine country, dramatic canyons and coastal towns. This is truly a marvellous and diverse composition of the American West. Experience a guided tour of Hearst Castle and join a Local Expert in a special vehicle exploring the iconic vistas of Monument Valley.

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For more information call 1300 301 672, visit or see your local Travel Agent. *Prices are per person, twin share, land only and include savings (Early Payment Discount and Exclusive Reader Offer). Single supplements apply. Advertised prices based on available lead in travel and vary per departure date. ^Based on Exclusive Reader Offer and 10% Early Payment Discount. Must be paid in full by 30 October 2015 for Early Payment Discount to apply. #Offer valid until 30 Sept 2015. Valid for new bookings only, on 2016/17 USA, Canada & South America itineraries. Excludes City Breaks and Mini Tours. Combinable with other brochure savings such as Early Payment Discount (if the chosen tour qualifies). Not combinable with other promotional offers or discounts. Please quote PPVACATIONS100 when booking. Offer is valid for land only, subject to availability and may be amended or withdrawn at any time. Conditions and restrictions apply. For full terms and conditions refer to 2016 USA, Canada & South America brochure or visit IV4066

armchair travel



Compiled by mark chipperfield

Hemingway’s Boat The subtitle of this book is Everything He Loved In Life, And Lost, 1934-1961. There is no need to ask who the ‘He’ is. Paul Hendrickson takes as his cue the relationship between Ernest Hemingway and his prized fishing vessel, Pilar, which endured for almost three decades. Apart from creating an entirely new literary style, Hemingway was also a man of action. Game fishing was his passion, obsession almost. Rather than a conventional biography Hendrickson paints a remarkably detailed portrait of pre-war America. The writing is lyrical, discursive and occasional withering in its criticism of Hemingway. The chapters on the building of Pilar, his life in Key West and the first fishing trips to Cuba and beyond are beautifully crafted. Hemingway emerges as a strangely doomed and yet terrifying personality. This book is an absolute joy. Vintage, $19.99

Perhaps the past decade will be remembered as the golden age of long-form war reporting. If so, Christina Lamb should be ranked as one of its most glittering exponents. Lamb, an award-winning British foreign correspondent, has been visiting Afghanistan for three decades and this book is a lament for a country which she clearly loves. Anyone who has read her previous books, such as The Africa House and The Sewing Circles of Herat, will know that Lamb is a perceptive and thoughtful writer, with an ability to capture the drama of war – and the absurdities of peace. Farewell Kabul does not offer any solutions to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, but provides a balanced overview of what went wrong, with interviews with key players and ordinary Afghans. Harper Collins, $29.99

The French Baker

Many home chefs struggle with desserts, which is why The French Baker is such a godsend. Sydney-based patissier Jean Michel Raynaud has put together a practical and inspirational guide to French-style baking. The book contains 95 individual recipes, with step-by-step instructions plus further hints and tips. The recipes are a mix of sweet and savoury, covering biscuits, cakes, tarts, pies, brioche, bread and choux pastry. Raynaud also writes about the history of individual recipes and their cultural importance. Along the way he provides some basic advice about baking techniques and equipment. Trained in France under master patissier Robert Schicchi, the author moved to Australia at the age of 20 and now works at Sydney’s Renaissance Patisserie and Baroque Restaurant. This handsome book should help the newbie baker bring a touch of magic to your dining table. Murdoch Books, $59.99


Rising Ground

Beneath its highly groomed exterior the English countryside is teeming with myth, legend, Neolithic tombs and other pre-Christian relics. This is the territory which Philip Marsden explores in his acclaimed new book. After travelling in Ethiopia, Russia and Armenia the author moves to a dilapidated creek-side cottage in Cornwall. He becomes fascinated by the region’s ancient sites and haunting landscapes. Rising Ground explores this Celtic realm – from Tintagel to Land’s End – and introduces the reader to early chroniclers, antiquarians, topographers and poets who also help trace the story of Cornwall. Along the way Marsden visits the barren landscape of Bodmin Moor, the china-clay region and the granite tors and tombs of the country’s southwest. Part travelogue, part historical musing and part personal revelation, Rising Ground is about the mysterious pull of landscape, even in the modern digital age. Granta, $40

River Cottage Australia

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage TV series is a delicious fantasy, packed with scrumptious food, eccentric personalities and rolling English countryside – all wrapped up in a message about the need for sustainable agriculture. The Antipodean version is equally beguiling, with plenty of sunlit Australian paddocks, thundering surf and farmhouse-style country recipes. The Aussie presenter (and author of this book) is Paul West, a trained chef who shares his mentor’s passion for responsible, small-scale farming. The recipes are heavily nostalgic, ranging from Standing Rib Roast to Perfect Roast Chicken. Old school classics like damper, rice pudding and pavlova also make an appearance. West embraces more contemporary dishes and encourages the use of native greens, herbs and fruits. This thoughtful cookbook, with photography by Mark Chew, will be a welcome addition to any Australian home kitchen. Bloomsbury, $45

Meet Me In Atlantis

When American writer Mark Adams sets out to find the mythical city of Atlantis he only half expects to find the sunken city, a place which is briefly mentioned in the works of Plato. Despite the vagueness of his destination, Adams approaches the task with great seriousness. He enlists the aid of Tony O’Connell, an Irishmen who has compiled an online encyclopedia of scientific theories about Atlantis. The author then explores the work of a Minnesota congressman called Ignatius Donnelly who was convinced that Atlantis had been sunk beneath the waters of the Atlantic. Adams also visits a number of sites connected to the myth of Atlantis: Tartessos in Spain, Malta, Crete, Santorini and a place near Agadir in Morocco. Funny, engaging and skeptical, Meet Me In Atlantis is the ultimate travelogue to nowhere. Text Publishing, $32.99


The Fish


Combining travelogue, memoir, nature writing, poetry and Celtic mythology The Fish Ladder is a captivating story of self-discovery through the communion with landscape. Writer Katharine Norbury and her young daughter Evie set out on a series of walks attempting to follow a number of rivers in northern England and Scotland to their source. Norbury is inspired in this task by Neil M Gunn’s novel The Well At The World’s End. The narrative is full of many twists and turns, such as the revelation that the author is adopted and her battle with cancer. The Fish Ladder takes Norbury to some amazing places, including Spurn Point and St Marys Well on the Llyn Peninsula. This is a marvellous evocation of Britain’s wild places and their calming effect on the troubled soul. Bloomsbury, $35.00

My Street

Food Kitchen

Occasionally you pick up a cookbook and think ‘I want to cook that. And that. And that.’ American food writer Jennifer Joyce has put together a mouth-watering guide to the world’s best street food, from the Middle East to South America. There are 150 recipes in all. The reader will find universal favourites such as burgers, pizzas, tacos, dumplings and samosas, plus some more exotic dishes from China, Korea, Japan, India and elsewhere. Bringing so many culinary styles together in one title is a brilliant idea and the author offers both quick snacks with more intricate and timeconsuming dishes. Plus there are plenty of dips, salads and wraps for those on the run. Crisply written and handsomely illustrated, this no-nonsense cookbook is funky, functional and full of fresh, zesty flavours from across the planet. Allen & Unwin, $39.99

1001 Walks You Must Experience Before You Die

For anyone who likes to go for walking holidays, or dreams of going, this book is the perfect research tool. The range of walks varies from the rugged Pembrokeshire Coastal Path in Wales to the Harz Witches’ Trail in in the mountains of Germany. The walks cover urban trails such as New York’s High Line, overland treks such as the Appalachian Trail in the USA, walks in mountain passes including the Höllental Loop in Germany, heritage hikes like the Hadrian’s Wall Path in England, and Coastal and Shoreline walks such as the Doc Martin Walk in Cornwall and the Maria Island Walk in Tasmania (covered in this issue). Written by a team of writers and edited by Barry Stone, walks range from the 90-metre stroll over the Ponte Vecchio in Florence to the 23,000 kilometre Trans-Canada Trail. Murdoch Books, $49.99


The Story Of Australia’s People, Volume 1

What was Australia like before the arrival of Europeans? How did indigenous people master the climates, seasons and resources of this vast land? These are just some of the questions which Professor Geoffrey Blainey tackles in the first volume of his new three-part history of Australia – the culmination of a life’s work and thought. Subtitled The Rise And Fall of Ancient Australia, the book incorporates the latest historical research, forcing Professor Blainey to reconsider many of his early conclusions about Aboriginal society. The first volume covers an amazing sweep of time from the first arrival of indigenous people from Asia 60,000 years ago to the arrival of Europeans in the 1850s. The author of seminal titles such as Triumph Of The Nomads and A Land Half Won brings a fresh, intellectual vigour to the task. The result is a thought provoking and bold study. A must read for all Australians. Viking Australia, $49.99







CALL 1300 959 189



born to be Wild BY Robert Upe

Awesome mountains and an endearing cowboy culture deliver an authentic American skiing experience at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.



red, white and blue Right from top: Jackson Tram; A perfect ski day delivers incredible views over the valley, or ‘hole’; Spring Creek Ranch Opening image: The town of Teton Village


here are cowboys all over my bed. Some are hootin’, and some are hollerin’, while others have lassos at the ready. There are also 18 cowboy hats hanging from pegs on my bedroom wall. But this isn’t a posse of new friends that I have brought home to sleep off a wild night at Jackson Hole’s famous Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, where saddles are used for bar stools. The hats on the wall are merely western decoration, and the cowboys on the bed are prints on the doona cover, which I have pulled up to my chin as snow tumbles outside, covering the Grand Teton Mountain Range in a fresh sheet of white. Cowboy chic is all around me at my lodging at Spring Creek Ranch, set on a butte 20 minutes’ drive from Jackson Hole resort, which has some of the best – and most intimidating – ski slopes in America. Jackson Hole will be doing some hootin’ and hollerin’ of its own next season when it celebrates its 50th anniversary. The milestone will be celebrated with parties, retro events and music concerts. With the anniversary looming, it must be said the resort is ageing well. More than $US130 million has been spent on the place since 1992, when the much-admired Kemmerer family took over ownership from the resort’s founders, Paul McCollister and Alex Morley, who are also fondly remembered for their passion and pioneering spirit. Included in that multi-million dollar spend is the new aerial tram that was commissioned in 2008 to replace the iconic original. Another new lift, the Teton Chairlift, will open on 19 December. The detachable high-speed quad will access 80 hectares of terrain, half of which was previously hike-to territory. There will be three new groomed runs from the lift, including intermediate slopes, as well as a steep groomed piste that will be called the Kemmerer Run. But for the moment, I’m sardined in the tram that is affectionately nicknamed Big Red, on the way up to Rendezvous Mountain, a seriously high skiers’ peak at more than 3185 metres (10,450 feet in the old language). It’s a 10-minute standing-room only ride, that delivers 100 skiers on each ascent. There is cool music playing, and at the top there are 360-degree views of jagged mountains, and the Snake River Valley, that are hard-pressed to beat. But thoughts of the scenery fade as the tram driver delivers his spiel near trip’s end. It goes something like this: there’s no easy way down, you better not be here unless you are a damn good skier or boarder. Have fun. As this is said, the legendary Corbet’s Couloir comes into view. It’s a narrow chute with a fearsome reputation that was once described by Forbes as “America’s scariest ski slope”. Forbes went on to say: “You enter the chute’s narrow, flinty mouth in free fall, dropping two storeys on to a 55-degreee –90–

slope. Fail to execute a hard right immediately, and you smash into a face of Precambrian rock. Survive, and you then smear speed by executing two nervy turns, exiting down a 45-degree slope as the chute fans out.” I mutter something like “shazam” underneath my breath and there’s a retort from someone beside me. “Nah, it’s OK, it’s pretty easy in these conditions.” I’m so squashed in, that it’s hard to turn around and see whom this brave heart is, but as I crane my neck for a look there’s no one there … until I look down and see a child of,

the drop maketh the man Above: Only the most fearless tackle the drop at Corbet’s Couloir

maybe, eight. This kid skis Corbet’s! Without fear! Probably not a butterfly in his stomach. As we clamber out of the lift, there are signs pointing to double-black diamond and extreme terrain, so I beeline for the Corbet’s Cabin. The ski patrol is based at the back of this cosy hut and the avalanche rescue dogs, huggable Labradors among them, snooze on their own couch. But at the front of the hut there’s a small café where the made-to-order waffles are as legendary as the Couloir. You can try a waffle with peanut butter and bacon. The calories won’t matter, because you’ll work them off going down the Couloir. Jackson Hole’s calorie-busting terrain spreads across 1000 hectares and is rated 10 per cent beginner, 40 per cent intermediate, and 50 per cent advanced or expert. No wonder the resort’s new 50th anniversary catchphrase is “Born to be Wild”, a nod to the independent spirit of the resort’s founders, the untamed mountain environment, the wildlife and the wild-west character of the community. Maybe, also a nod to the fearless eight-year-olds who prowl the black diamonds here. The testing terrain is everywhere, from the Hobacks, a never-ending ungroomed descent guaranteed to burn your thighs, to the hike-to terrain in Cody Bowl that is accessed through marked gates and requires a transceiver, shovel and a probe. In recent years, the resort has worked hard to improve its grooming to become more rounded. There is a lot, now, to

bring a smile to the face of intermediates, especially on Apres Vous Mountain, which is less intimidating than the resort’s other mountain, Rendezvous. There is a good but compact beginner’s area on Apres Vous, serviced by the Teewinot and the Eagle’s chairlifts, but this is where novices will have to stay. Jackson Hole’s base is called Teton Village, and here you’ll find the resort’s distinctive clock tower, shops, restaurants and bars (don’t miss après beer and nachos at the Mangy Moose). The village isn’t big, but it is appealing. It does have plenty of accommodation, from hotel rooms to apartments. Try the five-star Four Seasons hotel (the place to stay), the Snake River Lodge, Hotel Terra or Teton Mountain Lodge. Australians are big fans of Jackson Hole, in fact we are the second-largest market for the resort, after the US. The Aussies usually stay at Teton Village, for an average of 10 nights, no doubt lured there for the ski in and ski out access. However, there’s generally better (and more) eating and drinking in Jackson Hole township, about 15-20 minutes or 19 kilometres from the resort. If you don’t hire a car, there are frequent public shuttles, as well as private shuttles operated by most hotels. The heart of the town is classic cowboy. There’s a timber boardwalk out the front of the shops, just like you’d see in a scene from a John Wayne western. The Town Square is a pretty affair, decorated with an archway of antlers and fairy lights, and across from it is the aforementioned Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. The bar is famed for its country music and has had Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Hank Williams on stage. The shopping is good, with galleries, boutiques and gift stores with a western theme. The food is even better. “Not so long ago, we had a bunch of crappy Chinese food in town, and that’s about all,” says Justin Henry, the director of operations for the Fine Dining Restaurant Group, which owns –91–

apres ski Right: Talking up the day’s events at Q Roadhouse and Brewing Co

and operates several of Jackson’s trendiest eateries. “Then a revolution started and new restaurants started springing up everywhere. It’s now a real foodie destination.” The Fine Dining Restaurant Group’s Q Roadhouse and Brewing Co is a good example of the new-wave of Jackson Hole’s eateries. American favourites like organic fried chicken, shrimp and white-cheddar grits, tacos, and blackened catfish come out of the southern-style kitchen like hot cakes, washed down by craft beers that are brewed in-house. Cameron Diaz was in recently and ordered the fried chicken. And if you want a local’s recommendation on where to eat, try The Bird. “It has the best burgers in Wyoming,’’ says a friendly taxi driver. Another food option, where you’ll mix with more locals than visitors, is the National Museum of Wildlife Art. Apart from a stunning collection of 5000 items, the museum, five minutes north of town, has a Wild Wednesday winter dinner. The French menu changes, but you could have champagne steamed clams, fish soup and bison short ribs. It’s reasonably priced, and the night also includes viewing of the gallery. Outside, there is a lot of wildlife to see, too. More than 10,000 elk winter at the National Elk Refuge, a preserve of 10,000 hectares, alongside the town. There are no fences, except to keep them off the highway, but they graze there naturally, coming down from the harsh conditions up higher. You can take a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the refuge, but I’m touring with Spring Creek Ranch, which runs its own wildlife tours. We also see bison, big-horn sheep and moose. Wolves are making a comeback, but you would be very lucky to see one. More wildlife, and geysers, are on offer at Yellowstone National Park. It’s possible to do a day tour from Jackson Hole. The options include a heated snowcoach tour, or once you are there transfer on to a snowmobile for a wind-in-the-face adventure. Another day trip that is catching on, is skiing at the Grand Targhee Resort. The terrain isn’t as challenging as Jackson Hole, but it’s known for its powder snow. There’s a snowcat operation, although there has been talk of a new lift to replace the snowcat. Progress. The resort is on the opposite side of the Tetons to Jackson Hole and is easily accessed with Alltrans Targhee Express, which provides coach transfer and lift ticket. Aussies love Jackson Hole and visit in numbers, but the Chinese seem more fanatical about it. The high-end American west architecture and interiors, and the cowboy culture has so fascinated the Chinese that it inspired them, some years ago, to build a replica of the town in the mountains north of Beijing. The town imitates the real Jackson with its log homes, bars and even interior flourishes such as antlers on the walls, alpine antiques and old whiskey bottles. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But I’m sticking here. With the original and best. • Photography by Jackson Hole Mountain Resort


travel facts GETTING THERE Fly to Los Angeles with Qantas, United, Virgin Australia or Delta, then fly direct to Jackson with United or Delta. You can fly from San Francisco with Delta and from Dallas with American Airlines. • Qantas: • Virgin Australia: • United Airlines: • Delta: • American Airlines: WHEN TO GO Jackson Hole’s ski season starts on 26 November and runs until 3 April, 2016. WHERE TO EAT & DRINK • Q Roadhouse & Brewing Co: • The Kitchen: • Snake River Grill: • Bin 22: • Four Seasons, Westbank Grill and The Handle Bar: • Mangy Moose: • Million Dollar Cowboy Bar: WHERE TO STAY • Spring Creek Ranch: A rustic western ranch with hotel rooms right through to four-bedroom villas, free shuttles to skiing, restaurant, lounge and a spa. • Amangani: Next to Spring Creek Ranch, this is luxe to its back teeth. There are 40 suites and private homes, frequented by celebs. Cameron Diaz honeymooned here. • Four Seasons: Slopeside luxury. • Wort Hotel: In the heart of Jackson Hole town, it has cowboy charm and the Silver Dollar Bar, which has 2032 silver dollars in-laid into it. WHAT TO DO • Yellowstone National Park: • National Museum of Wildlife Art: • Grand Targhee:, FURTHER INFORMATION Jackson Hole Mountain Resort: Real America: Discover America:



McCoy BY Arnie Wilson

From hot springs to world-class skiing and snowboarding, Mammoth oozes California cool.




s its name suggests, Mammoth Mountain is a large, wild, hulking whale of a dormant volcano (hot vents included) – which has the highest skiable terrain in California. There’s even a fault-line running through the area: the nearby town of Mammoth Lakes lies on the edge of the Long Valley caldera, and the area around the town is geologically active, complete with hot springs – the best known of which has the bizarre name of Wild Willy’s. Located about 15km from town, it’s free. And wild! Mammoth Lakes and its nearby ski area are near Yosemite National Park on the edge of the desert in California’s Eastern Sierra. Although when compared with some major resorts in the Alps it may not quite be “Giant! Spacious! Huge! Immense! Enormous!” and “Colossal” as the resort once boasted (these days they have a mellower message: “ski hard, après, sleep, rinse and repeat!”) the ski area does indeed have more than 150 trails spread across four different areas and a six mile “footprint”. But that’s not the reason for its name. Since there are no fossilised prehistoric tusks lurking beneath the slopes, no one really knows for sure where the ‘Mammoth’ moniker comes from. But it’s more than likely that

california cool Clockwise from below: A groomer hard at work; Watch out for Woolly on the slopes; Mammoth is the place for park action Opposite page from left: Should we do it?; Apres at The Mill Opening image: Mammoth has plenty of sunshine and snow - a perfect combination


it’s derived from the Mammoth Mining Company’s presence at Mineral Hill, which prompted a gold rush in Mono County. By the end of 1878, 1500 people had settled in a mining camp called Mammoth City. But within two years, the company had shut down, and by 1888, the population had dwindled to fewer than 10 people. And yet somehow, by the early 1900s, thanks to logging and tourism, the town of Mammoth was informally established near Mammoth Creek. It wasn’t until a few die-hard skiers brought portable skiing rope-tows into the mountains – powered by Model A Ford trucks – that a different kind of rush began. Some arrived on motorbikes, skis strapped on the back of them. One such pioneer, now approaching his 100th birthday this August, was Dave McCoy, a one-time Californian State ski champion. In 1928, his mother took him to visit friends in Independence, a tiny village with spectacular views of the Sierra Nevada mountains. “I’d never seen anything like it” he would say later. “I loved the snow: I started dreaming about it. I said, ‘This is where I am going to spend my life’.” In 1945, McCoy, by now a snow-surveyor with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and a member of the Eastern Sierra Ski Club, obtained the rights from the Forest Service to build a permanent rope tow on Mammoth Mountain. To finance this he even sold his beloved Harley-Davidson. Initially, he said, he wasn’t thinking about business. “I did it because it was fun.” And a decade later, he personally installed the first chairlift. Although he sold the resort in 2005, he’s still very much a ‘local’ – Dave’s Run is named after him as is McCoy Station at

“For long stretches, with a splendid backdrop of arid desert and mountain scenery, it may feel as though you’re alone” the mid-mountain junction of the two stage Panorama gondola. With its dramatic trademark backdrop of the jagged Minarets towering above the nearby forested valleys, some said the mountain, which tops out at 3370 metres, was too high, too remote and too stormy to succeed as a ski resort. Needless to say, McCoy was determined to prove everyone wrong. “They said all those bad things” he said “but they all forgot to look around and see how much fun we were having.” Of course, like any other mountain, it can and does get storms. But then how else would it get its generous amounts of snow – sufficient for it to remain open, almost every year, until well into May, and sometimes even later. A storm wafting in from the Pacific has been known to deposit a metre and a half of snow in the Sierras in one night. Mammoth’s “second season” – from late spring onwards – is normally highlighted by magnificent corn-snow: a thin, easily skiable soft layer on top of frozen snow. And a cheaper lift ticket. The ski area lures thousands of weekend skiers from Los Angeles and Orange County, even though it means a five-hour drive. So the slopes can get crowded at weekends – in contrast to weekdays when queuing is rare. The journey to Mammoth, whether by air or by road, is spectacular. Mammoth is about three hours driving from Reno, Nevada, but the most spectacular approach is the drive from Los Angeles through the beautiful Mojave Desert, passing Edwards Airforce base, and skirting Death Valley. For long stretches, with a splendid backdrop of arid desert and mountain scenery, it may feel as though you’re alone. But

don’t be tempted to put your foot down: the road is renowned for drivers picking up speeding tickets! Flying is an option too. The ski area is five miles from Mammoth/Yosemite Airport, with a free shuttle service for passengers flying into town. Mammoth, with 945 vertical metres of slopes and more than 1416 skiable hectares served by 28 lifts, is now the official training ground of the US Olympic snow teams. And although there are numerous testing chutes and steeps, including favourites like Avalanche Chutes, Wipe Out and Paranoids, Mammoth has extensive terrain for every grade of skier and boarder, with plenty of feel-good cruising runs like St. Anton, Broadway and Forest Trail. Since snowboarding originated from Californian surfing, it’s appropriate that Mammoth was one of the first American resorts to encourage ocean surfers to come out of the water and move onto the land – from the surfing beaches near Los Angeles to the snow-surfing slopes of the Sierras. There are seven parks and three pipes, including an Olympic-sized superpipe. The Unbound Terrain Parks comprise more than 28 hectares dedicated to 40 rails and boxes. There’s a Wall Ride, 50 jumps and a world-class system of pipes. There are also two Family Fun Zones at Discovery and Canyon, along with South Park’s Jibs Galore. Unbound Playgrounds – small parks geared towards beginners – can be found at each base lodge. For many years, the town of Mammoth Lakes, perched at 2,400 metres, was the principal lodging base, but about nine years ago, the Village at Mammoth, a major new pedestrian resort development sprang up at Juniper Ridge, complete with –97–

a gondola link direct to the mountain. The 15-passenger lift transports guests from the Village to Canyon Lodge in five minutes, eliminating the need for cars at the ski area. Mammoth Mountain’s four main hotels are the Village Lodge, Juniper Springs Lodge, Mammoth Mountain Inn and Tamarack Lodge. Between them, the Village and the Old Mammoth Road boast more than 50 bars and restaurants, plus shops and various lodging properties. Among the most popular is the Campo Mammoth restaurant in the Village (for Italian food). Nearby, the brand new 53 Kitchen & Cocktails offers a fun twist on comfort food. The Stove in Mammoth Lakes has “the best French toast anywhere!”. Mammoth Rock ‘n’ Bowl (a bowling alley with restaurant), which opened in town just last winter, has already proved a big hit with families. Also in town, the Mammoth Brewing Company is a popular après haunt, as is Lakanuki (fun place for drinks, serves local beer). For a very different après experience, you could check out the Tufa Towers at the impressive Mono Lake about 30 minutes away. These bizarre limestone formations – most prolific at the South Tufa grove just off Highway 120 East, at the south end of Mono Lake – have nothing to do with tofu, although apparently a few first-time visitors, unfamiliar with the geologic term ‘tufa’ have been known to ask directions to the ‘tofu’. The towers are formed when underwater springs rich in calcium mix with lake water that’s rich in carbonates. As the calcium comes into contact with the carbonates, it forms calcium carbonate, which gradually forms a tufa tower under water. They’re so visible above the waterline today because the lake level fell dramatically after water diversions began in 1941. Be it Tufa or tofu; Wild Willy’s; and a brooding, dormant volcano which now and then releases just a tiny hint of sulphur fumes – add magnificent skiing and Californian sunshine – and you have a ski vacation you won’t forget in a hurry! • Photography by Mammoth

travel facts GETTING THERE Qantas, Delta, United and Virgin Australia fly into LAX. Mammoth is a five-hour drive from Los Angeles or Las Vegas and a 60-minute flight from LAX. Alaskan Airlines and United both operate flights. United flies from SFO to Mammoth during winter.;;;; Transfers from the airport to town can be arranged through the Mammoth All Weather Shuttle, who also offer sightseeing tours. WHERE TO STAY Westin Monache Resort has beautiful apartments along with a great location. WHERE TO EAT Mammoth Village The Campo Mammoth restaurant and 53 Kitchen & Cocktails (suite 153) are both in the heart of The Village at Mammoth. • Campo: +1-760/934-0669; • 53 Kitchen & Cocktails: +1-760/934-0707; Town of Mammoth Lakes • The Stove restaurant: 644 Old Mammoth Road; +1-760/934-2821; • Mammoth Rock ‘n’ Bowl: 3029 Chateau Road; +1-760/934-4200; WHERE TO DRINK • Mammoth Brewing Company: +1-760/934-7141; • Lakanuki: +1-760/934-7447;

Brew to a thrill Above from left: Mammoth Brewing Company; Campo


FURTHER INFORMATION Mammoth Mountain: Mammoth Lakes: Black Tie Rentals deliver all your ski hire gear to your accommodation: Mogul Ski World: 1800-335-724; Discover America:

MAMMOTH SNOW – an average of 10m snow per season and a summit at 3300m for wonderful light powder conditions.

MAMMOTH SUN – 300 days per year of California sunshine for endless views of the High Sierras.

MAMMOTH SIZE – 3500 acres of terrain with 28 lifts servicing endless blue cruisers and steep bowls.

MAMMOTH FUN – with over 80 restaurants and bars for après ski and beyond.










$1795* per person


$4665* per family


$1729* per person

Based on 7 nights in a Studio and a 6 day lift pass. Valid 4 Jan – 12 Feb.

Based on 7 nights in a Two Bedroom and 6 day lift pass for 2 adults and 2 children under 12 years. Valid 2 Jan – 11 Feb.

Based on 7 nights in a 1 bedroom and a 6 day lift pass. Valid 4 Jan – 11 Feb.

ACCOMMODATION DEAL Based on book by Oct 31 Pay 5 Stay 7*

ACCOMMODATION DEAL Based on Pay 6 Stay 7*

ACCOMMODATION DEAL Based on Pay 6 Stay 7*

1800 335 724 IATA Accredited *conditions apply please contact Mogul Ski World for all details


olympic spirit BY Susan Gough Henly

Korea is hosting the 2018 Winter Olympic Games and will ensure athletes can fly higher, faster and longer in the shadows of Seoul.


am in the mountains watching a spectacular music and light show right outside my sleek five-star hotel. At another ski resort I indulge my inner child at a huge indoor water park before enjoying a traditional steam bath. Multifaceted entertainments like these add a whole new dimension to winter resort offerings. I’m visiting several ski resorts in South


Korea’s PyeongChang region, home of the 2018 Winter Olympics. I’d never thought of snow sports and South Korea in the same sentence but, make no mistake, South Korea is gearing up to be the next winter sports hub in Asia. If this plucky country’s remarkable rise to high-tech affluence is anything to go by, I have no doubt that it will deliver a fabulous Winter Olympics experience.

The 2018 Winter Olympics South Korea has certainly shown its signature persistence and patience in its bid to host the Winter Olympics. It took three consecutive attempts for PyeongChang to win the bid for the 2018 Games, having lost previously to Vancouver and Sochi. This time they defeated European stalwarts, Annecy and Munich. PyeongChang will be the third Asian city to host the winter games, after Japan’s Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998. The PyeongChang vision is focused on opening new horizons for the Olympic movement and the world of winter sports by engaging previously untapped audiences. “This Olympics is all about embracing Asia as the next winter snow sports destination. Asia has the biggest youth population and Korea will have the newest venues, which will be a terrific legacy of the 2018 Winter Olympics,” says Jerry Ling, head of Games Coordination, PyeongChang Organising Committee. It is this powerful combination of passion and reliable technical proficiency that finally brought PyeongChang over the line. As a bonus, all who come to Korea either for the Winter Olympics or to ski and snowboard themselves will enjoy a fascinating culture and a very warm welcome by the locals. We certainly found South Koreans to be outstanding hosts and very proud to showcase their distinctive food, unique traditions and cutting-edge technology.

For the ease of both athletes and spectators, PyeongChang will offer one of the most compact Winter Olympics ever created. All the events will take place in a small geographical area in Gangwon-do Province in the country’s northeast, split between a mountain and a coastal cluster. The mountain cluster will comprise eight facilities – six of which are already established – as well as the main Olympic Village in the town of Hoenggye, which is the site of the opening and closing ceremonies. Thirty minutes away, the coastal cluster will be the setting for the ice events centred around the city of Gangneung on the eastern seaboard. Skiing and snowboarding are relatively new winter pastimes in South Korea. So, of course, their ski resorts are recent developments as well. After the ravages of the Korean War, South Korea transformed itself into one of the world’s fastest growing economies. With a rapidly expanding middle class, the government saw the benefits of the lucrative ski-tourism dollar and in 1975 South Korea’s first resort, Yongpyong, opened. Today, more than 6.3 million people visit the country’s ski resorts annually. When Short Track speed skater Kim Gi-Hoon won South Korea’s first two Winter Olympic gold medals in 1992 everyone in the country became interested in winter sports. This passion surged into the stratosphere when Kim Yu-na won figure skating gold at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. One of the highest


paid athletes in the world, Kim Yu-na is the honorary ambassador for South Korea’s 2018 Winter Olympics. There are now 18 ski resorts (including one indoor resort), the largest of which are dotted along the Taebaek Mountain Range in Gangwon-do Province. The four major ski-resorts: Yongpyong, Phoenix Park, Alpensia and High1 Resort are located in this region. Interestingly, all these resorts have large leisure-focused facilities with year-round offerings.

olympic dreams Opposite page from top: View of Alpensia; High1 Opening image: Yongpyong will host the alpine events at the Winter Olympics

The Mountains and the Snow The Taebaek Mountain Range averages only 1000 metres in height so the ski resorts are at a very low elevation compared to resorts in North America and Europe. All resorts are below the tree line but sadly, because the slopes are fenced off, there is no tree skiing. The snow-bearing systems come from Siberia in the northwest but, in contrast to Japan, which has some of the deepest powder in the world, South Korea does not benefit from the moisture build up when storms cross the Sea of Japan (East Sea). As a consequence, South Korea has developed what is probably the world’s most extensive and efficient snowmaking system. While ski and snowboard aficionados search the world for fresh powder, South Korea’s proficient snow making will come in handy for the Winter Olympics. It always seems like, no matter where they are held, there is never enough natural snow when the world’s top athletes are ready to compete. At least here in South Korea the International Olympic Committee is assured that plenty of snow will be on the ground so the show can go on. Because skiing and snowboarding are still in their infancy and because the mountains do not have sheer slopes that are common in the Alps or the Rockies, South Korea’s ski resorts are primarily geared to beginner and intermediate snow sports enthusiasts. There are plenty of high quality ski and snowboard rentals and you can even rent the latest ski and snowboarding gear. As for the Olympics, the competition facilities are all being purpose-built to the latest specifications so the resorts will deliver an excellent experience for both competitors and spectators.

The Key Resorts South Korea’s trailblazing resort, Yongpyong, which will host the Winter Olympic alpine events, has the country’s most extensive trail system with 31 runs across the ridge of Mount Balwangsan. There are 15 lifts including the 3.7 kilometre gondola which takes you to the 1500 metre Dragon’s Peak. We enjoyed the 5.6 kilometre Rainbow Paradise Trail which winds all the way down to the base village while those after a little airtime can check out Korea’s first terrain park. The ski school works in several languages and has a special kid’s program. There are loads of off-mountain activities including an indoor waterpark, indoor golf course, karaoke bars and a bowling alley. Not far away is Woljeongsa Temple, one of Korea’s oldest Buddhist temples. A highlight for us was a do-it-yourself barbecue feast of local Hangwoo beef, renowned throughout South Korea for its flavourful marbled texture, all the better when washed down with Cass beer. We enjoyed our time at Phoenix Park, which will be the Olympic snowboarding and freestyle centre. It was quite surreal to be able to ski all night, with the hardiest snow sports –102–

enthusiasts schussing until the wee hours, accompanied, of course, by the latest K-pop tunes. The resort has 22 ski slopes, 12 of which are accredited for international competition. They are serviced by eight lifts and a gondola that accesses Mont Blanc Restaurant at the top. The Extreme Park is the best in the country. Off piste, Phoenix Park has the country’s largest indoor/ outdoor water park and spa, a bowling alley, karaoke, billiards and a game centre, and nearby you can catch sensational views from a glass skywalk in Jeongseon County. Not far away, we had some terrific culinary adventures including feasting on dried pollock fish at a local restaurant and taking a cooking class at the Traditional Korean Food Centre where we learned to make buckwheat pancakes and bibimbap, a tasty mixed rice dish. There, too, we learned the secrets of Korea’s favourite dish, kimchi, where vegetables are fermented in clay pots. The much smaller Alpensia resort, which will host the ski jump, cross country, biathlon, luge and bobsleigh competitions, has just six downhill slopes that are perfect for beginners. Its name is a blend of Alpen (German for Alps), Asia, and Fantasia to give the image of the fantastic Alps of Asia. Indeed, this is the prettiest ski resort village with South Korea’s best slope-side luxury accommodation. We visited Alpensia’s impressive ski jump (with a terrific café in the tower) which will become a hub for ski jumping and Nordic competition after the Olympics. There’s a water park, traditional Korean bathhouse, golf course, shopping mall and music auditorium. Probably the most popular South Korean ski resort is the government-owned High1. The highest ski resort in the country, High1 has three peaks, 18 runs and 21 kilometres of slopes serviced by eight lifts and two gondolas. At the heart of the resort is a lavish casino, the only one in the country that is open to South Koreans. There is also a golf course, hiking trails, a sledding slope, retail shops, a cinema, bath houses, sound and light shows, and a luxury five-star conference hotel as well as two luxury condominiums. All in all, there is no doubt South Korea will stage the most efficient purpose-built Winter Olympic Games ever seen. And while it may not be able to deliver fresh powder or extreme slopes, you are always guaranteed that there will be plenty of snow. South Korea’s ski resorts are particularly suitable for families looking for a different cultural experience and terrific food in addition to easy skiing on wide slopes. Kids will love the water parks and games arcades and Mum and Dad might enjoy a turn at the casino as well. • Photography by the various resorts

travel facts GETTING THERE Korean Air flies direct from Sydney to Seoul daily and four times a week from Brisbane on brand-new Airbus 330-300 planes offering more entertainment options and passenger comfort including 180° flat beds in Business class (Prestige Suites). Asiana Airlines: GETTING AROUND Shuttle buses run between Seoul and PyeongChang, a three-hour drive. A high-speed rail link will be completed by 2017 and will reduce the transit to 1½ hours.

Seoul Seeking

A major appeal of skiing in Korea is spending time in Seoul en route. This dynamic modern city is a UNESCO City of Design with interesting cultural institutions, distinctive neighbourhoods, and great shopping, restaurants and cafés. Here are some must-do activities. •V  isit the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) designed by Iraqi British architect Zaha Hadid with its Design Lab, Design Market, Gansong Art Museum, history and culture park. • Explore Seoul’s largest and most beautiful palace, the Gyeongbokgung Palace. Six times a day (except Monday) see the Royal Guards Changing Ceremony in front of the main gate. • Wander around the Gwangjang Market’s fresh food stalls, street food vendors and silk and clothing shops. •G  o for a walk along the restored Cheonggyecheon Stream that meanders ten kilometres through the city. •H  ang out in some of Seoul’s cool neighbourhoods. Samcheongdong has terrific cafés (Seoul’s fascination with coffee borders on that of Melbourne’s), boutiques, galleries and restaurants in traditional Korean houses. Gangnam offers cafés, bars and shops that live and breathe K-pop style.

WHEN TO GO The 2018 Winter Olympics will run from 9–25 February, 2018. January and February have the best snow. WHERE TO STAY • Lotte Hotel is a sumptuous five-star hotel in downtown Seoul: • Dragon Valley Hotel, Yongpyong Resort: • Phoenix Park Hotel: • Convention Hotel, High1 Resort: WHERE TO EAT • Poom Seoul is a cutting-edge contemporary Korean restaurant with great city views. 3F Daewon-jeongsa B/D 358-17 Huam-dong, Yongsan-gu; +82-2/777-9007. • Gogung Tteurak restaurant and café is next to the Gyeongbokgung Palace. 1-1 Sejong-ro, Jongro-gu; +82-2/720-0486 • Dalhangari (Moon Jar) is a casual restaurant in Samcheongdong. 95-1 Samcheong-dong, Jongro-gu; +82-2/733-7902 • The Institute of Traditional Korean Food offers cooking classes. 21-4 Baegokpo-ri, Yongpyeong-myeon, PyeongChang-gun; +82-10/9968-7500 • Hwangtae Hoegwan is a pollock fish restaurant in PyeongChang city. • Modurang Hanwoo Village Korean barbecue restaurant is next to Dragon Valley hotel in Yongpyong Ski Resort. FURTHER INFORMATION Korea Tourism Organisation: –103–


in the


BY Helen Hayes

In winter, Hokkaido’s mountains are buried under metres of powder snow, perfect for those who love swooping down steep slopes on skis or snowboards.


o – we weren’t drunk on sake. But a quick rub of the eyes and a blink or two did not make it go away. It was, most definitely, a singing tree. With eyes. We were in Rusutsu, the largest ski resort on the island of Hokkaido and it is not your normal ski destination. More like something a Vegas billionaire would conjure up as his next ginormous themed resort. On the drive in, there is what looks like roller coasters covered in snow and ice. Another look confirms it. Then there is a two storey carousel in the foyer, with

Frozen costumes for hire just in case you want to ride it looking like Princess Elsa. Rusutsu is the largest ski resort on Japan’s northernmost island, Hokkaido, where the freezing winds bring cold blasts of air from Siberia, across the Sea of Japan. This Siberian blast ensures that Hokkaido has more snow than it knows what to do with, and all that powder, that magically appears outside – and halfway up – your door every morning, brings skiers and snowboarders from all around the world.


powder room Above and below: The Fridge Bar; Snow buries a hut in Niseko Opening image: Mt Yotei can be seen from Niseko and Rusutsu

Don’t be fooled into thinking that Rusutsu is all fun and games with no substance. The skiing here is some of the best in Japan. It has three mountains to explore; West Mountain, East Mountain and Mt Isola, with 18 modern lifts carrying skiers and boarders up into the clouds to tackle 37 trails and plenty of off piste terrain where you can thread through trees without getting lost. The terrain is split evenly between beginners, intermediate and advanced, with most intermediates and advanced heading for Mt Isola. Mt Isola has four quad chairs and a gondola, which service runs with names like Heavenly Spirit, Heavenly Canyon and Heavenly View. It can indeed be heavenly when the sun comes out and Mt Yotei, a volcano between Rusutsu and Niseko, is showing off her crater. The longest run on Mt Isola is Isola Grande at 3.5 kilometres – stick to the sides for some powder stashes. West Mountain has some excellent tree skiing up off the West Tiger Pair lift, a terrain park and lights up for night skiing every night until 8pm, while East Mountain is really just the linking mountain between the other two. At the base of East Mountain is where the activity centre is, offering snowmobiling, dogsledding, horse riding and snowshoeing. For some indoor fun, walk around the main base, yes, past that singing tree, past the carousel, and head for the Cricket bar for some après shenanigans, and after dinner head for the games area. Drive cars, shoot basketballs, or shoot bad guys with a pistol while riding a horse. This is Rusutsu, so all of this really is true.

“This Siberian blast ensures that Hokkaido has more snow than it knows what to do with”

Unite in Niseko On the other side of Mt Yotei, and a very pleasant one-hour drive from Rusutsu, Niseko United is waiting. There are four ski resorts here, all draped round the base of Mt Niseko Annupuri, including Annupuri, Niseko, Grand Hirafu and Hanazono. You can ski between all the resorts, or catch a shuttle bus. Hirafu is the town where most people stay, as it has an excellent range of accommodation, shops, restaurants and bars, as well as easy access to Grand Hirafu Resort. The snow pukes down from the moment we get anywhere near the Resort, and we are not surprised to learn that the snow level is up over 10 metres for the season. By the end of the season it would be up to 15 metres. Picture that in your mind – 15 metres of snow – just ridiculous. Staying in ski-in, ski-out accommodation makes life easy, with Alpen Ridge right by the Ace Family chairlift. It’s a beautiful three-bedroom apartment with all the mod cons and a balcony from which we can check the conditions first thing in the morning. The ski and snowboard hire and the snowsports school is downstairs, and we are steps from some of the many great dining options. Hokkaido is bountiful when it comes to produce, with sensational seafood, meats, vegetables and


dairy products. The fields around Niseko, covered with snow in winter, are overflowing with corn, asparagus and potatoes. Grand Hirafu has plenty of good skiing for all levels, and Hanazono, while it has excellent terrain for beginners at the base, also has some incredible tree runs including Strawberry Fields. The restaurant here, Hanazono 308, ended up being one of our favourites on the mountain, along with the King Bell Hut on Grand Hirafu and the Lookout Café at Niseko. After wearing out our legs enjoying the night skiing at Grand Hirafu – the biggest night skiing area in Japan – there are many options to refuel. There are many traditional Japanese restaurants; we sit on the floor at Kobito, watch the Iron Chef in action at Kabuki 2 and cook our own at Abucha 2. At Kobito, the door is more suited to Hobbits than people, but gives it an exotic ambience that is matched by the interior. After dinner, we go to the Gyu Bar, which you enter via an old, full-of-stickers Coca Cola vending machine door. The place has a great vibe, a record (think vinyl) library, and the glass

windows behind the bar allow a lovely outlook to the well-lit trees outside. Spend an hour or three enjoying wine, handcrafted cocktails or local single malt whisky. Before next season, another bar will open upstairs. For breakfast, the crepes and coffee at the Niseko Supply Company, and the bacon and egg rolls at the Green Farm Café are superb, and will keep you going as you plough through all that powder. While Hirafu continues to be the hub for most accommodation, Niseko has its fans too, with the Hilton Hotel Niseko a feature of the landscape. The hotel can be seen for miles around, with 499 rooms and a gondola direct from the hotel to the top of the mountain ensuring a solid following. New kids on the block in Niseko include The Green Leaf Niseko Village and Kasara, all adjacent to the year-old Niseko Village, which boasts designer boutiques, restaurants and bars, onsen and spa facilities in a traditional Japanese machiya architecture setting.

Strip jack naked There is a perception that Niseko is too Australian, and not Japanese enough, but that was not our experience. Japanese signage is everywhere, the food is typical Japanese and the traditions of the country are first and foremost. The people are very kind and helpful, and while a smattering of English is spoken and menus do have English translations, you will find it helpful to learn a few phrases before you go. One important part of the Japanese culture is to bathe in onsens, hot springs that cleanse the soul and relax the body. Most around Niseko have separate sections for men and women, and a strict regimen must be adhered to. Firstly, you need to be starkers to go in. Once you get over that hurdle it is easy. You must take everything off prior to entry, wash, then go into the hot pool with nothing more than a red face and a tiny modesty towel that really doesn’t do much. We visited Yukoro in Hirafu, which had indoor and outdoor pools. After the initial embarrassment, the hot mineralenriched water does its thing and you can relax and enjoy the snowy vistas. Perhaps the most well-known onsen in the area is at the Hilton Hotel Niseko, which has a beautiful outlook over a tranquil pond, and the onsen at Green Leaf which has a beautiful view to the mountains. In some, including Yukoro, you can buy a Japanese beer to enjoy while soaking in the tranquillity – not a bad way to end the day. • Photography by Helen Hayes,, Rusutsu


night moves Above: Night skiing at Grand Hirafu

travel facts Getting there • Jetstar flies direct to Tokyo Narita from Cairns, Melbourne and the Gold Coast. • Japan Airlines has flights from Tokyo Narita and Haneda to Sapporo. Where to stay Hirafu • Alpen Ridge Apartments are premium apartments and offer ski-in, ski-out convenience. • Ezo Yume is a three-level townhouse in the Lower Village. Rusutsu • Rusutsu Tower Hotel is huge with 24 storeys of all suite accommodation. Where to eat and drink • Gyu Bar: • Kabuki: • Abucha: When to go The season starts in December with January the busiest month, with an influx of families on school holidays. March is a great time to go, with the snow still excellent but prices lower. It can be very cold, so take plenty of layers and stock up on hand warmers. Tips Cash is king in Japan so make sure you have plenty. staff can assist with the locations of ATMs as well as advice on other things to do in the area. Further information • is the expert when it comes to Japan. The knowledgeable team can organise every aspect of your trip to Niseko and Rusutsu (as well as many other major resorts in Japan) including transfers, accommodation, lift tickets, lessons, hire gear and tours. • Snow Goddess Retreats:

Discover Japan. Discover Japan with Jetstar and experience a culture at the intersection of modernity and tradition. Explore Japan’s ancient temples and shrines or dive into the bustling metropolis of Tokyo, its rich nightlife and delicious cuisine. Fly from Melbourne^, Cairns or the Gold Coast direct to Tokyo, and Cairns direct to Osaka, and experience Jetstar’s new Dreamliner. You can also fly Jetstar within Japan,* making it easy for you to discover all that this fantastic country has to offer. To book your Jetstar low fare to Japan, visit ^Dreamliner flights from Melbourne (Tullamarine) to Tokyo (Narita) commence 10 July 2015. *Domestic Japan flights are operated by Jetstar Japan (GK).

Operated by Jetstar Japan (GK). Flights within Australia and between Australia and Japan are operated by Jetstar Airways (JQ). Before you book your international flight, and before you travel, check current Australian Government travel advisories on Jetstar Airways Pty Ltd - ABN: 33 069 720 243. JET5932/JPN

global dining Compiled by Mark Chipperfield

James Street South, Belfast

Awesome Eating in Amman

The newly opened Five Grill & Lounge is setting new culinary standards in the Jordanian capital. Located on level four of the Four Seasons Amman, the elegant dining spot is the perfect place to unwind after a day of sightseeing in the desert or attending business meetings in the city. Guests can relax and unwind while enjoying refreshing drinks, delicious dishes and aromatic shisha. The terrace offers fantastic views of Amman. With seating for 94 people, the sophisticated new dining space features a full service bar, lounge area and dining section. Menus feature a wide array of options, including speciality drinks and cocktails, as well as everything from burgers and fresh pizza to higher end cuisine such as seafood and steaks. Five Grill & Lounge is open from 5pm daily during the summer months.

Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, has been known for many things over the past century – shipbuilding, music of all types, hard drinking and sectarian violence – but fine dining was not one of them. How things are changing. James Street South, in the heart of the old city, is a good example of the culinary renaissance sweeping across the province. Dating back to 2003 this funky, contemporary dining space is one of the pioneers of innovative Ulster cuisine, featuring the best local produce from land and sea. Today’s revamped menu reflects this commitment to fresh, seasonal produce. Look out for the local delicacies such as wild boar black pudding and Ards Peninsula Lobster. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. The fixed price pre-theatre menu is great value.

Ultimate Bali Brunch

The glamourous oceanfront St. Regis Bali Resort has unveiled what it claims is the tropical island’s ultimate brunch experience. The hotel’s Boneka Sunday Brunch includes an extensive range of hors-d’oeuvres, Avruga pearls, oysters, fine cheeses and exquisite desserts. For a modest cost of Rp 650,000 ($62.43) guests will also be able to choose premium à la carte dishes such as lobster omelette and wagyu beefsteak, graze on freshly carved meats from the outdoor grill station and enjoy complimentary cocktails. Boneka is one of three restaurants at the hotel in Nusa Dua, which also offers a gourmand deli and two cocktail bars. The Boneka Sunday Brunch is served between 11am and 3pm, kicking off with cocktails at the King Cole Bar. The restaurant also serves a lavish evening buffet, with live music and dance performances.


Gordon Goes


Two decades after he opened Aubergine in Chelsea, Gordon Ramsay returns to London SW3 with his latest restaurant maze Grill Park Walk – a quintessential neighbourhood dining room which takes its inspiration from the grill rooms of Manhattan but with a distinctly British twist. Located on Chelsea’s Park Walk, maze Grill Park Walk features herringbone wood flooring, copper and brass lighting and exposed brick walls. The dining room is warm and inviting, with a colour scheme of oxblood red, lime green and chocolate hues. True to its American theme the kitchen specialises in rare-breed prime steaks from fillet to rib eye and triple-seared wagyu which have been aged in a brick-lined ageing chamber. Seafood is another drawcard, with a selection of made-to-order sushi and sashimi dishes. The wine list is approachable and features mostly French, New Zealand and English vintages. maze Grill Park Walk is open daily for lunch and dinner.

Playtime on the Harbour

The Gantry Restaurant & Bar is the latest addition to Sydney’s harbourfront dining scene. Located within the refurbished Pier One Sydney Harbour, the swish dining room on Walsh Bay marries a stunning location with the formidable talents of Canadian-born chef Chris Irving, whose CV includes stints with Gordon Ramsay, the Spanish Royal Family and as the personal chef to the Beckhams. Given its watery location guests will not be surprised to find some brilliant seafood on the menu, but Irving is equally adept at meat dishes. Standouts include smoked bone marrow, venison tartare and slow-cooked Mirrool Creek lamb shoulder (to share). For something a little more casual head for the sexy bar which offers a wicked range of cocktails and signature Irving style bar snacks. Open daily for lunch and dinner.

Seaside comes to


Visitors to London will not have to venture down to the south coast of England to get their seaside fix – this year it’s coming to you. York & Albany on Parkway is hosting a pop-up beach hut throughout the summer. So get out your flip flops, sunglasses and beach balls. The beach itself is made from real sand transported from Cornwall, while the candy-striped hut – decked out in the latest coastal fashions – will be serving day tripper cocktails and seaside favourites, such as mini fish and chips, Cumberland sausage rolls and pickled seafood in pots. For sweet tooths, there are banana split ice creams, candy floss and caramel popcorn. The beach hut is available for exclusive bookings for up to 12 guests. Costs start at £30 per person, which includes a selection of sweet and savoury snacks and two cocktails. A more extensive food menu is also available. –111–

tried & tested

Madame Hanoi Bar & Bistro,


The Kettle Black,

Everyone is doing Asian street food these days, but the much-travelled Nic Watt has lifted the genre to new heights at his stylish new Adelaide eatery Madame Hanoi Bar & Bistro. Part of the city’s casino complex, the restaurant is a masterful recreation of a Hanoi dining room from the 1950s, complete with sepia photographs, old advertising posters and iron lanterns. The food, however, is right on song with the 21st Century. The all-day dining menu dances between French colonial classics, traditional Asian buns, zingy salads and modern Vietnamese dishes like crispy pork belly with Vietnamese herbs and hoisin sauce. The combination of stylish street food, a robust wine list and a no-bookings policy has made Madame Hanoi the hottest ticket in town. It’s also open for Franco-Vietnamese breakfast on weekdays, from 7.30am.


Ever had cured Flinders Island wallaby for breakfast? That is just one of the dishes on offer at The Kettle Black, a beacon of modern gastronomy wedged between the Royal Botanic Gardens and Albert Park in South Melbourne. The glaringly white interiors and pared back Scandinavian décor are designed to brighten the gloomiest weekday morning – and this is when The Kettle Black really shines, although it also opens for lunch and afternoon tea. A sister establishment to Top Paddock and Two Birds One Stone, this converted Victorian terrace serves high-end breakfast fare such as hotcakes with ricotta, fresh crayfish in an ash roll, tataki ocean trout and the aforementioned Flinders Island wallaby. The crew here is equally serious about its coffee. The options include single origin and Ethiopian Hunkute V60 filter coffee.


Le Lotus, Papeete

Conveniently located not far from the airport – perfect for those late arrivals or early departures – the InterContinental Tahiti Resort warrants more than a brief stopover. Major renovations are almost complete – the over water bungalows will open in August – adding even further to the Resort’s appeal. For many, a highlight of a stay here is an evening out at the beautiful Le Lotus restaurant, situated under a thatched roof and over the lagoon. We spend an hour or two in the afternoon at the swim-up Le Lotus Bar, peeking into the lovely interior of the restaurant. Once inside, it is even more attractive, with lovely views over Moorea a complement to the divine cuisine. Chef Franck David offers an excellent menu of gourmet French cuisine, with an equally impressive wine list. I choose a main of veal fillet on Whisky sauce, olive mash potatoes quenelle and a salad of rocket with foie gras, followed by a vanilla soufflé (80 percent of France’s vanilla is grown in Tahiti and the resort even has vanilla plants) with red fruit coulis and ice cream – vanilla of course. The setting and the exceptional meals add to the romance that is Tahiti. By Helen Hayes


Ski Switzerland.

Pristine snow, crisp air and pure tranquility; winter in Switzerland is a time of enchanting beauty. To find out more about the original Swiss winter visit :



wombats walking BY Susan Gough Henly

The Maria Island Walk is a wonderful way to explore Australia’s only island national park.


he’s furry, blond and docile with pretty little pointy ears. Not svelte, I might add, but barrel-bummed like a baby bear. Make no mistake, though, I am told she can do the 100-metre dash in less than 10 seconds. On Maria Island, off the east coast of Tasmania, the need for speed scarcely arises. Indeed, this might well be wombat utopia. On our four-day walk we see dozens of normally nocturnal bare-nosed wombats grazing contentedly all day long oblivious to our clicking cameras … even when we transgress feeding grounds carefully demarcated by cube-shaped poo. Ten of us are doing the Maria Island Walk with Ned and Claire, two young energetic and informative guides who ply us with as many fascinating stories as they do serious lashings of gourmet food and Tasmanian wines. There’s no better way to explore Australia’s only island national park. And what stunningly diverse landscapes it offers … a mini Tasmania within Tasmania. Dozens of white talcum powder beaches, boulders draped in technicolour lichen, abstract swirls on sandstone headlands, tall stands of aromatic blue gums, 300-millionyear-old shell fossils embedded in limestone cliffs and soaring dolerite columns offering

views across the seas to Freycinet Peninsula and beyond. And it’s not just a wombat wonderland. There are Tasmanian devils, wallabies and kangaroos, pademelons and potoroos, penguins and dolphins, rays and seals and birdlife almost as flamboyant as the Italian dreamer who set about creating a Mediterranean-style Eden here at the end of the earth. It’s low tide when Maria Island Walk’s boat deposits us on Shoal Bay’s deserted beach. Packs on backs, shoes in hands, we wade through the aquamarine shallows much like the French explorers on Nicolas Baudin’s scientific expedition did in 1802. The landscape remains unchanged. While it was Abel Tasman on a passing ship who named Maria Island 160 years earlier after the wife of the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies, we can thank Baudin for the mellifluous names he bequeathed to the Pointe des Pyramides, Cape Boullanger, Point Lesueur and Riedle Bay. We scurry across a narrow isthmus to Riedle Bay, squally whitecaps dancing across the waves. Tucked behind banksia and she-oaks is Casuarina Beach Camp, six green canvas tents on wooden platforms framing a large communal dining space and deck. –115–

“Dozens of white talcum powder beaches, boulders draped in technicolour lichen, abstract swirls on sandstone headlands”


beating about the bush Above: Walkers in Blue Gum forest Opposite page, clockwise from top: Beach walkers Maria Island Walk; Painted cliffs on Maria Island; Eastern Grey Kangaroo; Maria Island guides Ned and Claire Opening image: Who knew that wombats could be this cute

Our packs stashed, we saunter under soaring peppermint gums with Ned evoking Maria Island as “more Jurassic Park than Noah’s Ark” since it’s now the home of the first translocated breeding population of wild Tasmanian devils free of the facial tumour disease that has wiped out four-fifths of their relatives. The fairy penguins we spy in burrows under gum trees may not be so happy about the new order. We discover a couple of bleached penguin carcasses on Haunted Bay’s impressive granite boulders covered with crimson and orange lichen as though painted from a giant’s brush. Its name, by the way, may refer to mournful baby penguin cries for mum to bring home food or perhaps to the haunted souls of whalers who killed sperm whales here for lamp oil and corset bones. Returning to a table set with china and candelabras we feast on olive tapenade, vine-ripened tomatoes and basil bruschetta on Hobart’s finest Pigeon Hole sourdough followed by a risotto of Spring Bay scallops and asparagus, and a summer berry pudding with King Island cream. In the glow of candlelight and chardonnay, ten walking buddies become friends and wonder if the adventures can get any better. Even the twittering of honeyeaters and shrieks of swift parrots don’t wake me from my slumbers snug inside a sleeping bag on a comfy mattress. It takes the smell of freshly-brewed coffee and scrambled eggs with smoked salmon to do that.

And Claire’s tip-off that we’ll walk five beaches today, each one more gorgeous than the next, on our 12-kilometre hike through the early chapters of Maria Island’s history. Heading north, she gives us the first instalment at an expansive midden under a casuarina tree. The Tyreddeme band of the Oyster Bay Aboriginal tribe lived here for thousands of years and their delectable diet of crayfish and abalone, oysters and other shellfish is spread out before us like an ancient still life. On the forest fringe of old French’s Farm we’re thrilled to glimpse a devil before it disappears with a snarl under some ferns. The beaches are indeed exquisite, littered with large flat Angasi oyster shells, scurrying terns and oyster-catcher chicks, small stingrays gliding in the mercury silver shallows of Mercury Passage. Skirting samphire wetlands dotted with grey-feathered, red-legged, green-beaked Cape Barron geese, we enjoy our tasty salads under shady Macrocarpa pines. Convict-brick prison cells rim the crest of the hill as a reminder that this area was once a convict probation station and wheat farm. Marauding seals waddling into the fields to snack on the grains (the mind boggles) and lack of fresh water brought its swift demise. We pass entire headlands of grazing wombats, walk through Tasmania’s largest stand of aromatic blue gums and, at Bloodstone Point, discover orange and red cliffs that were an important source of ochre for the Tyreddeme Aborigines. Relaxing on the deck of White Gums Camp that afternoon we gaze at reproductions of detailed drawings by Baudin’s illustrators of Maria Island’s original inhabitants. They stare at us with ochre-smeared faces and coiled hair, women with rope-like necklaces and men with ritual body scarring. One of our walking group, also called Maria, is from Pitjantjatjara country in Central Australia. “I wonder what this mob’s dreaming story was,” she says the next day as we gaze on Mount Maria’s burly profile, “because it’s difficult to really understand a people’s culture unless you know what they believe.” A corkscrew collecting accountant, an anaesthetist, a Steiner teacher, a lawyer and an Aboriginal medical centre manager are other members of our group while country boy Ned is doing a PhD in Third World food systems and Manchester-born Claire has a degree in coastal systems. It makes for lively conversation over wakame and mushroom miso soup, barbecued quail and lamb chops with couscous, and flowerless chocolate cake with island berry coulis as boobook owls serenade us from the treetops. We split into two parties on day three. The adventurous head out early to scale the scree of 620-metre Bishop and Clerk twin-peak dolerite columns, so named for their likeness to the profiles of clergy. They regale us over dinner with just how magnificent the vistas are all the way to Mount Ben Lomond on the mainland. The rest of us have slowed to wombat time (and I don’t mean on the rare occasions when they become Olympic sprinters). We meet wallabies in the woods and watch blue herons fishing in a brackish stream. Sauntering along an old convict coastal track, we watch dolphins offshore and our furry friends onshore so diligently grazing hillsides they resemble green carpets. Ned shows us a convict-era quarry whose sandstone blocks were used to build the Melbourne GPO as well as the –117–

dining on history Clockwise from top: Convict built buildings at Darlington Probation Station; Picnic under Bishop and Clerk; 4 Mile beach


Commissariat, the oldest building and now the information centre in Darlington. We feast on pasta salad at Hopground Beach, named after the nearby hop fields around Australia’s oldest remaining Oast House, whose kiln dried hop flowers to make beer during the early convict period. Perhaps this is why convicts finagled ways to come to this relatively benign outpost. Just around the corner are the Painted Cliffs, swirling sandstone rock formations formed by iron-oxide-stained ground water, tides and wind. And at our feet, are rock pools alive with pink algae, blue sea stars, and red anemones. Back on the track we pass wetlands buzzing with birdlife including a male flightless turbo chook and his harem, Tasmania’s bizarre kiwi bird equivalent. At the top of the hill, UNESCO World Heritage-listed Darlington Probation Station is spread out before us behind the creamy sweep of a half moon bay …. white-washed cottages, convict-built red-brick buildings, the stone Commissariat, striking ruins, cement silos and wooden Victorian cottages. Ned explains all as we follow the Macrocarpa pine-shaded road towards Bernacchi House. Turns out that 30-odd years after the last convict left in 1850, Maria Island became the passion project of Italian silk merchant

Diego Bernacchi, who married beneath himself and wanted to create a whole new world here, a gleaming Ceylon of the Antipodes. We hear his story over a grand finale dinner in the formal dining room at Bernacchi House, where we spend our last night, freshly showered and tucked into comfy beds. First he planted mulberries for silkworm farms, developed olive groves and vineyards, then started cement works. Darlington, renamed San Diego, was a boomtown with an elaborate Coffee Palace restaurant complete with grand piano. Things went pear shaped in the late 1890s but after World War I King Diego (as newspapers of the time were wont to call him) was back charming new investors with more grand plans only to fail again due to a combination of world recession and poor quality materials. On our final day we explore Darlington’s eclectic mix of beautifully-preserved buildings before peering over some of the world’s most impressive exposed limestone cliffs under the brooding profiles of twin peaks Bishop and Clerk. The giant prehistoric clam shell fossils in the old lime kilns below offer a sobering reflection on the passage of time. Indeed, after four days at a walker’s rhythm wandering powdery beaches and slowing down to marvel at lipstick-pink robins and iridescent swirls on abalone shells, we all savour a complete sense of removal from the world. No cars, no shops, no television, no white noise of modern life. Just bird song, a quiet marsupial or two, good food and wine, and terrific conversation triggered by stories from a past as eccentric as it is fascinating. That might just be rarer than the 40 spotted pardalote I just saw in the crook of a white gum. • Photography by Maria Island Walks and Susan Gough Henly

travel facts GETTING THERE Maria Island Walks transports guests from their hotel in Hobart, with a stop at the office to collect equipment, to Triabunna (about a 90-minute drive) where their private boat makes the 40-minute transfer to Maria Island. GETTING AROUND Guests walk approximately 30 kilometres over four days. WHEN TO GO Trips run daily from 1 October to 30 April (subject to availability). WHERE TO STAY Accommodation is provided at two permanent camps with the final night at the heritage-listed Bernacchi House. FURTHER INFORMATION Maria Island Walks is a member of Great Walks of Australia.

“The walk that keeps walking off with all the awards.”

On this wonderful 4 day walk, two experienced guides will accompany you through this world heritage national park. You’ll experience breathtaking scenery, fascinating history and rare Tasmanian wildlife. Guests carry only light packs and each night enjoy exclusive accommodation and candle lit dining. We invite you to join us and find out why we are the most awarded walk in Australia. Call 03 6234 2999 or visit


high on

sugarloaf BY chris walker

As South America’s most recognisable city, known as cidade maravilhosa or the ‘marvellous city’, Rio de Janeiro promises big things.


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Subheading 2nd Subheading Body noindent... quo eumquis ute reptasi miliquae nulparcit aperi teniamendit hic tem et qui in qui aut la quis essunt. ventured into the spectacular city by bus, Body... lorestia dolupturion but I can only dolendi imaginetistiorro the views on offer ra eaque la quam eturect emporec ra to those arriving by plane. The estiur four-hour volest, rest, simaxim drive upsithe coast fromfugiatem the smallquunt, beach vellat town aditatus alique vollorem et laborum qui of Paratyexplis was picturesque, twisting through forest landscapes and small towns overlooking beautiful bays. Eventually the forests gave way to cityscapes as we entered the outskirts of Rio, the second largest Brazilian city after nearby São Paulo.


Soon we spotted one of the city and continent’s most famous drawcards, the statue of Christ the Redeemer, proudly perched atop Corcovado Mountain. It looked small from so far away, but I would later learn just how gigantic the statue, one of the seven new wonders of the world, is. It was clear within an hour or two of arriving that no city in the world sits on better real estate than Rio. Home to the largest


urban forest in the world, high-rise buildings seem to protrude from the jungle. If that wasn’t enough it is surrounded by perfect blue bays and beaches, including the world famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. It is also known for the Carnival festival, Sugarloaf Mountain cable car, and the iconic Maracanã Stadium. My wife Emily and I arrived in the city just a few weeks after the football World Cup final, and was preparing to host the 2016 Olympics. First on our list was a visit to Christ the Redeemer. The drive to the top of Corcovado Mountain took a surprisingly long time, considering our minibus driver weaved his way up the steep climb like he was in a car chase. Once safely at the top the view was postcard perfect and Christ seemed to project a godly aura. The statue itself stands 30m tall, boosted to 38m by the pedestal, while its arms stretch 28m wide. Constructed between 1922 and 1931 and recognised as the world’s largest Art Deco statue, it’s made of reinforced concrete and soapstone, tipping the scales at an impressive 635 tonnes. On a perfect day, without a cloud in the sky, the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema were a perfect contrast of white sand and blue water. In front of the beaches Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, a lagoon used by Rio locals to escape the busy city, looked equally inviting. During the day the image of Christ overlooking Rio is majestic, at night the statue seemed to assume even more power, almost levitating like an angel lit by hundreds of lights. I found it peculiar that every light had its own on and off switch, but at least it gives someone a job for an hour at dawn and dusk every day. Our home for 10 days in Rio was an apartment just a five-minute stroll from arguably the world’s most famous beach – Copacabana Beach. The owners, who rent out a room online, soon proved their worth, offering all sorts of valuable advice. Venturing out to work on our tans and take in the famous beach, there was something that immediately stood out. The beach was beautiful. The sand was bright white and the water a lovely blue. –122–

But it wasn’t the beauty of the beach, or the colour of the sand that got my attention. It was the bikinis – if you could call them that. They had earned the nickname dental floss bikinis and it was a fair description. All women wore g-strings. Size or age was completely irrelevant. Young, old, skinny, large, huge – it didn’t matter. Most could not pull it off, but some did so in style. It was hard for me to focus on tanning. But there was not a single topless woman; all wore at least the dental floss. Very conservative I thought. Along with the bikini drawcard the beach is different to beaches in Australia in other ways. For starters you can’t lie uninterrupted for more than a minute without someone trying to sell you something. The mobile sellers offer everything from water and soft drinks, to beer, sarongs, bikinis, shirts, dresses, sunglasses and sunscreen. One guy even carried around a little barbecue and cooked haloumi cheese, while others tried to sell prawn skewers, which didn’t sell well with tourists in the heat. Rio offers some of the best fresh fruit and fresh juices in South America, or the world for that matter. There is no need to splurge on expensive meals, simply find a corner café and you won’t be disappointed. As a general rule try to pick the

at play in the fields of the lord Clockwise from left: The beautiful white sand and perfect sky of Copacabana Beach, looking towards Sugarloaf Mountain; A little boy takes time out from running around on Copacabana beach; Some of Rio’s famed favelas or slums, made famous in movies; One of the perks of Copacabana Beach. The bikinis leave little to the imagination Opening image: The view from the top of the cable car atop Pão de Açúcar or Sugarloaf Mountain, looking towards the world famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. Christ the Redeemer stands at the top of Corcovado Mountain in the top right of the photo

“At night the statue seemed to assume even more power, almost levitating like an angel lit by hundreds of lights.”

places with plenty of people who don’t all look like tourists. One of those very popular spots is Santa Satisfação. Won over after our first visit, we became regular visitors to the bustling café, just a short stroll from Copacabana Beach. I couldn’t go past the ‘menu of the day’ option, where I tucked in to the best Caesar salad I’d ever tasted, followed by equally delicious pasta. You also can’t go wrong ordering anything combined with avocado. There are plenty more gourmet options available all over the city as well. We had some great meals in Ipanema, where most knew how to cook a steak. One place we had a particularly enjoyable lunch was Barzin. It was also a good place to try a caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail. But be prepared. It only takes one of the powerful drinks to start feeling the effects. They are also available all over the city, and all over the country, just don’t let them add too much sugar. Along with visiting the Christ the Redeemer statue, the other iconic landmark to visit in the city is Pão de Açúcar or Sugarloaf Mountain. Unfortunately we picked an extremely hot day to make the rather long walk from Copacabana to Leme and the foot of the mountain. But that was soon forgotten once we took the speedy cable car to the top of the


thumbs upS Left: The view towards Pão de Açúcar or Sugarloaf Mountain, looking up at the cable cars

“Along with visiting the Christ the Redeemer statue, the other iconic landmark to visit in the city is Pão de Açúcar or Sugarloaf Mountain.”

first mountain, before a second cable car took us across to the peak of Sugarloaf. Just like the outlook from Corcovado it offered 360 degrees of postcard perfect views. Below Guanabara Bay almost looked fake, so beautiful was the colour of the water. Then there was Botafogo Beach to the north and Copacabana to the south. In between the jungle landscape offered a bizarre contrast. There are many other activities for tourists in Rio, including a visit to the favelas or slums, made famous in movies, but we decided against taking a guided tour into the shanty towns. It would have felt wrong to live it up in Rio and then go and spend a morning staring at those living in poverty. With so much time dedicated to relaxing on beautiful beaches we didn’t quite make it to Maracanã Stadium, but for fans of the round ball game it is known as one of the most iconic football temples in the world. It was built for the 1950 World Cup, squeezing almost 200,000 people for the final. Today capacity is much less, at fewer than 80,000, but that still makes it Brazil’s largest stadium. Guided tours of the stadium, which was renovated for last year’s World Cup final, are available and include a visit to the locker room and access to the ramp the players use to access the field. Our time in Rio had been memorable. We visited many of the tourist hotspots and each exceeded expectation, but we had also taken time to eat and drink great food, and relax and recharge. There is certainly something for every traveller in Rio, from those looking to party, to those looking to relax, and everyone in between. It really is the marvellous city. • Photography by Chris Walker

travel facts GETTING THERE • LAN Airlines and Qantas fly codeshare from Sydney to Santiago with connections to Rio de Janeiro: 1800-126-038; WHEN TO GO There is really no bad time to go to Rio. It’s still hot enough in winter to enjoy the beaches, though it can get very hot in the summer months. You may want to time your trip to coincide with Rio Carnival, which generally starts in February. WHERE TO STAY • On a backpacker budget there are plenty of options to stay all over the beautiful city, though I recommend staying near the beach. Copacabana is quite close to many of Rio’s famous drawcards. • At the other end of the scale is Copacabana Palace, and a long list of other luxury options. • I’d recommend looking at an apartment sharing website, so you get to experience Rio with locals; WHERE TO EAT • Santa Satisfação, near Copacabana Beach, at Avenida Ataulfo de Paiva, 1335-A - Leblon, Rio de Janeiro. • Barzin, near Ipanema Beach, at R. Vinícius de Morães, 75 - Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro. WHAT TO DO In Rio there are endless options of activities. The must do sights include visiting Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado Mountain; taking the cable car to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain; and taking in the sun and sights on Copacabana Beach. You may also wish to visit the favelas or slums, made famous in movies. There is something for everyone in Rio; from those who want to relax, to those who want to party. FURTHER INFORMATION • Rio de Janeiro Convention & Visitors Bureau: • Forward Travel:





LAN Airlines and TAM Airlines form LATAM Airlines Group which serves over 130 destinations in 22 countries. LAN Airlines offers seven flights per week from Sydney to Santiago, Chile via Auckland; plus three direct codeshare flights operated by one oneworld partner airline. From Santiago, LAN offers connections to the most wonderful destinations in Brazil.


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Amazing landscapes and welcoming locals are ready to impress you. Chile’s contrasting landscapes provide a banquet of astounding beauty. The north is home to the planet’s driest desert, while fertile valleys and vibrant cities line the centre. The south is a fantasy land of lakes and volcanoes, culminating in the shimmering glaciers and soaring peaks of Patagonia, and just a short flight to the world’s coolest place – Antarctica. Here are some of our favourite experiences waiting for you. 1. DELVE INTO THE ATACAMA DESERT Step back in time and into another world in San Pedro de Atacama. Clear skies make distant, snow-capped volcanoes seem touchable, and the intense colours of the Altiplano lakes make every view worthy of a postcard. 2. CHILL OUT IN SANTIAGO’S NEIGHBOURHOODS The variety and diversity of Santiago comes alive in its ‘barrios’. Stroll the lanes and cobbled plazas, chat to the locals, and savour the delights in the cafes and shops along the way. –126–

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Wedding Bells in bali BY Sarah Dougherty

Whether you elope, have the big white wedding or choose a barefoot beach wedding with just a few friends, Bali can do it all … and do it very well.



or many Australian couples heading to Bali to celebrate their weddings, it’s a dream come true. Where flowers fall from the trees, sunsets never fail to impress, where the sea, the stunning gardens and the mountains present a million photo opportunities, and the warm, sultry days and nights whisper sweet nothings; it is a fantasy that many have claimed as their own. Bali never fails to make it on to lists of the

most romantic places on earth with some reports suggesting that it is second only to Las Vegas for weddings. With tropical vistas, secret beaches, luxurious resorts and a string of stunning chapels, Bali offers couples the chance to do it their way. From the full pomp and ceremony of our own Jennifer Hawkins, complete with highflying media trying to get the money shot; to underwater weddings; barefoot weddings; cliff –129–

top vows; or intimate ceremonies in a private villa. Weddings are big business for Bali and there is hardly a resort worth its stars that doesn’t have a wedding planner on board.

Villa Weddings For many Australian couples, villa weddings are their first choice. With villa properties offering accommodation, as well as a list of recommended photographers, caterers and celebrants, this can be a beautiful option. Villas, like couples come in all shapes and sizes. Among the top wedding villas are the stunningly located villas at Semara Luxury Villa Resort, where Jennifer Hawkins, and her husband Jake Wall, hosted 70 guests. Semara hosts more than 150 weddings each year at their collection of seven five-bedroom villas, each uniquely designed and decorated. “Semara is perfect for weddings as couples have the choice to book out the entire resort, as Jennifer Hawkins did, or book a single villa. Because Jennifer and Jake had the entire resort we were also able to close off Finn’s Beach Club to the public and the party continued there,” explains General Manager Kelly Sturgeon. Finn’s Beach Club is a popular choice for couples but until recently the resort would rarely close it for exclusive use, as it is a popular destination for day guests. A recent extension has doubled the size of the beach club and has space for a dedicated private events area.

According to Kelly, many couples envisage getting married on the beach. It is harder than you might think, despite the fact that Bali’s beaches are popular spots for wedding photographs. The newly refurbished Finn’s can now offer this option as well. Beside it, at Karma Kandara, weddings are also a fantasy and accommodating the wedding party and guests is also possible with a range of villas with one, two and three bedrooms. Julia Lorenti is the Events Manager at Karma Kandara. With a cliff top pool that is often employed as the ‘aisle’, to a stunning private beach at the base of the cliff, the setting is equally spectacular and personalised service is a bonus for many of the brides who choose a Karma wedding. “At Karma, we can cater for everything from shabby-chic ceremonies accompanied by Greek small bites to five-course sit-down dinners featuring menu tastings with wine pairings. It’s really up to you – because the most special day of your life should be more than just a package,” explains the effervescent Julia. Also on the cliff, wedding organisers favour a range of stunning private villas like The Istana, Pandawa Villas and Latitude Bali, stunning cliff-side villas that offer spectacular views, designer interiors and landscaped gardens where set ups are spectacular. Elite Havens offers a bespoke wedding service with almost 150 wedding villas in their portfolio, and like Karma and Semara, work with some of the larger Australian-based wedding organisers like Global Weddings and Libby Doherty, to produce beautiful ceremonies designed to suit the budgets and the taste of their brides and grooms.

Resort Weddings THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM Below: A beautiful beachside set up at the exclusive St. Regis Bali Resort on Nusa Dua Beach Opening image: Model and fashion blogger, Nikki Phillips marries her man, musician Dane Rumble at an exclusive cliff-top villa at Semara Luxury Villa Resort


Having a five-star wedding takes a lot of the planning headaches away and it is a popular option for many. Top of the range five star resorts like St. Regis, The Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, W Retreat, The Legian, Sofitel and The Conrad offer bespoke wedding services and everything can be handled in-house. They’ll also help with the legalities or put you in







BTDC 9 2888 WISATA ) 361 84 AN PARI TEL: (+62 KAWAS NESIA DO M IN CO 363 SOFITEL. BALI 80 H9078@

t ro n t Resor A Bea c h F


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touch with the right people. Many of them feature beautiful chapels as well as alternative beach locations. For those who prefer things a little cooler, head up to Ubud where properties like The Viceroy and Hanging Gardens Ubud are among the most photographed resorts in Bali. The new Mandapa Resort, a Ritz-Carlton boutique resort, is sure to make the list of dream wedding venues. Bali resorts are well versed in both small and large weddings. For those who don’t fancy a fuss, or have run away from home to tie the knot, many resorts will even organise a dress and a suit and bundle up the required witnesses. Small and large, Bali caters to all shapes, sizes and budgets. Weddings are so popular that AYANA Resort, above Jimbaran, has a total of nine wedding venues, including a glass chapel, an amazing aisle that perches over the lip of a dramatic cliff face and a romantic jetty with a beautiful barefoot venue on the private beach.

Dedicated wedding venues Tirtha Bali was among the first to create a dedicated wedding venue, along with its much imitated glass chapel, designed by an Australian architect with an incredible view from a dramatic cliff top. They have since opened a second venue, also located on the Uluwatu coast. With a dedicated team, weddings here are both memorable and spectacular for many couples, while an in-house wedding service allows brides and grooms to express their personalities with a range of options.

Thinking outside the box There are those who take a more adventurous route and this

can include anything from mountain climbing, getting married on an elephant or even underwater. Pulau Luxury Charters has a fleet of luxurious cruising options that sparkle with romantic options and photo opportunities. From proposals, to buck’s and hen’s parties, to island weddings, sunset cruises and honeymoons, organiser Diana Shearin has filled all kinds of requests. “Our luxury yacht Burjuman is the pride of the fleet and we’ve been asked to cater for everything from blessing ceremonies to intimate weddings, bridal showers and sunset cruises for the wedding parties. She can also be a romantic live-aboard option for couples that want to enjoy sailing in style,” she explains. Also part of the fleet is the larger Haruku, which has four staterooms on board and can cater for up to 20 for day trips, and sleeps six in air-conditioned comfort. Trips to Lombok are popular with wedding parties and some of the islands closer to Bali, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida, boast clear water, white sand beaches, snorkelling, diving and fishing alongside some stunning private villas and boutique resorts, which offer incredibly romantic options for tropical weddings. Sandy Bay Beach Club is a popular wedding destination, and guests can come in for the day or stay at a range of accommodation from stunning private villas to more reasonably priced hotels. Shush Ingram and her team at Sandy Bay is an experienced handler of nervous brides and their parties. Intimate, barefoot and beautiful, it won’t cost the earth and the memories are forever.

Villa The Sanctuary Bali is a ten bedroom private luxury villa in Canggu specialised in accommodating large groups, family holidays, weddings and events. Renowned for its premium 5 star service Villa The Sanctuary Bali has 27 professional staff members to look after its guests. Villa The Sanctuary Bali is extremely child friendly, offers stunning infinity views and is one of Bali’s most wanted luxury destinations for weddings and events.

Canggu, Bali, Indonesia –132–


Located along a beautiful river in the middle of the jungle this villa is ideally located 5 minutes from Canggu Beach.

Bali-style Some couples want to celebrate the destination and there are a range of options for couples who want to incorporate Balinese elements into their ceremony. The Bali Elephant Safari Park offers couples the option of a Hindu ceremony along with a more traditional Western ceremony (elephants are optional). Australian chef, Penny Williams, has set up her restaurant, Bali Asli, in the mountains with an incredible view of Bali’s largest mountain, Agung. There couples can get married in a natural setting with a Balinese banquet to follow, featuring local produce. Working together with Alila Manggis and private villas along the Candi Dasa coast, ceremonies here are as simple as you like and capture the beauty of the Balinese countryside. Also on the East Coast of Bali, on the romantic black sands near one of Bali’s most famous surf breaks, Hotel Kommune is a resort that celebrates the surf lifestyle. Offering stylish stays, a landscaped pool, great food and an experienced team, the celebrations never end. Check their packages on the website.

Down South Seminyak’s beaches are filled with couples being photographed along the shore, all day, every day it often seems. A number of the resorts along this coast offer wedding services, including the W Retreat, The Legian and further up the coast the sister Alila property, Alila Soori. In Seminyak, Alila is close to completing their Seminyak resort, which will also feature a wedding chapel and a penthouse with sweeping views for the reception. Discreetly located in the quiet part of Seminyak, Santi Chapel offers a unique blend of Balinese water terraces with a

the ties that bind Above: Celebrating romance at Karma Kandara


The Bali Bride One Australian bride, Leisa Mannion decided to document her journey on Instagram. The Bali Bride has attracted over 11,000 followers over the space of a year, during which she travelled to Bali, researched the options, sourced inspiration and shared it, right up to the big day and beyond. The wedding, held in May, went off beautifully with the wedding party booking a boutique resort in Seminyak, Villa Coco, as their base and employing family and friends to help organise the events surrounding the wedding. Her large following speaks volumes about the interest in Bali weddings.

The fine print

ALL WHITE Above: Happiness is being married at the Viceroy

glass wedding chapel where weddings can be tailored to suit the couple. With Kunja Villas beside it, the entire party can be accommodated and guests can enjoy the local nightlife and great restaurants. The Villas Seminyak is another venue that has been welcoming brides and grooms for over a decade. With private weddings held in their villas and a range of options for hen’s parties and buck’s nights on the doorstep, including the celebrated Prana Spa, it’s the perfect venue for smaller weddings. Intimate weddings ceremonies are perfectly placed at Cocoon Beach Club where a private venue upstairs is now being completely enclosed for air-conditioned comfort. With food, flowers and wine on tap, the views over the beach are included at no extra charge. This is a popular choice for couples who want minimum fuss.

Bearing in mind that Bali is in a foreign country, where bureaucracy is a nightmare at the best of times, it is advised to have a professional to deal with the paperwork if nothing else. The Australian Consulate offers some practical advice on what you will need in order to get legally married in Bali. Being forewarned of the potential pitfalls is an important step in avoiding any hassles down the track. Some couples opt to have their ceremony in Bali and obtain their marriage licence at home, an option worth considering (as this writer did). There are some very helpful blogs and information sources available and with the recent stories of shonky organisers, it pays to do some research. Whether you go it alone, choose a resort wedding or work with one of the many registered wedding organisers, Bali weddings are a dream come true for countless couples. A great destination to stay, play, fall in love, get married and often renew your vows, the island caters to couples with a range of budgets and tastes and has earned its reputation as one of the most romantic places on earth. • Photography by various establishments

To do or not to do…it yourself Katrina Simorangkir is a director of Bali Weddings International. With over 20 years experience in the wedding planning business, she is often the go-to-girl for couples trying to sort through the myriad details that a wedding entails. According to her blog,, one of the most common questions asked by brides is can you do it yourself? The answer is yes … but. As she points out, “The very reason that wedding planners exist is to save brides and grooms from experiencing the challenges and stressful situations leading up to and indeed, on their wedding day. “Before you make the decision to go down the ‘DIY’ road, I would strongly recommend you consider whether the savings you’ll make are worth the potential difficulties, disappointments and stress you may well experience along the way.” –134–

travel facts Further information • Ritz-Carlton: • AYANA: • Semara Luxury Villas: • Karma Kandara: • Cocoon: • Latitude Bali: • Komune: • Libby Doherty: • Bali Weddings International: • Villa The Sanctuary Bali:


singapore BY Aleney De Winter

As Singapore dons its party best to celebrate 50 years of independence, we take a look at the big events and experiences for visitors in 2015.


singapore sling Above from left: Raffles Hotel Singapore - Afternoon Tea at Tiffin Room; Joo Chiat Opposite page: Haji Lane, Kampong Glam


ingapore’s story is a fascinating one. Once a refuge for fishermen and pirates, the tiny island was colonised by the British in the 17th century, before Japanese occupation during World War II. The aftermath of the war saw the country face staggering economic issues and major social unrest until, in 1959, the island became a self-governing state within the British Empire. Achieving sovereignty in 1965, there was doubt that a small country with so few natural resources could survive on its own. Its success against all the odds as it deftly managed its way through domestic turmoil, regional strife and international politics saw the country emerge on the world stage as the major commercial hub, financial centre and global player it is today. To celebrate, Singapore is throwing a party that will last all year long. Red and white flags are already fluttering from buildings, houses and even cars as the tiny country gears up to mark 50 years of independence in glitzy Singaporean style. A National Day Parade will be hosted at the Padang, the site of many significant moments in Singapore’s history, including its declaration of independence. Celebrated in the spirit of Singapore’s golden jubilee, the parade will be a spectacle of military parades, performances and fireworks set against cityscape. Other jubilee highlights include a 10-day long arts

festival to coincide with the opening of the National Gallery Singapore and the launch of the Jubilee Walk, a walking trail that will lead visitors to historic locations in the civic district and the Marina Bay area. Clean, extremely green and very safe, Singapore has long been a favourite destination of Australians, its East meets West vibe drawing us in by the plane load. Expansive parks, iconic architecture and popular attractions including its world famous zoo, Universal Studios Singapore theme park and modern eco-attractions like the dazzling Gardens By The Bay are all major drawcards. As is its shopping, with fans of boutique buys salivating over the stores in the hip shopping enclaves of Haji Lane and Tiong Bahru and label lovers spending up a storm in its designer malls. Singapore is synonymous not only with sightseeing and shopping but with an incredible culinary culture. From world-class dining to hawker stalls, Singapore is an unbeatable destination for gastronomes. Australians looking for a luxe culinary experience can’t go past the intimate and exclusive Waku Ghin in the Marina Bay Sands casino. At Tetsuya Wakuda’s Singapore restaurant, your own private chef will make 10-courses of culinary magic – including Waku Ghin’s sensational signature dish of marinated botan shrimp with sea urchin and oscietra caviar – materialise before your eyes. Take a visit to Little India, one of Singapore’s most vibrant districts, but be sure to bring an appetite. Between the sari shops, Hindu temples, mosques and churches you’ll find dozens of incredible curry houses. From South Indian vegetarian food and North Indian tandoori dishes to local fare like roti prata there’s no better way to explore it than by eating your way through. If you can’t make a choice head to the Raffles Hotel’s legendary Tiffin Room for an incredible all you can-eat curry extravaganza. –137–

light years Clockwise from left: Hawker markets; Bumboat ride; Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Whether you fancy melt-in-the mouth Hainanese chicken rice, steaming bowls of laksa and nasi lemak, Singapore’s famous chilli crab, or incredible desserts like the coconut infused ice perfection that is chendol, head to one of the city’s Hawker Markets where for a few dollars you can eat like a king. For something a little more out of the ordinary, why not indulge in the Singapore Flyer’s Sky Dining experience, where from the comfort of a spacious capsule atop Asia’s largest observation wheel, you can enjoy a four-course meal complete with full butler service. If you’re after a nightcap with a modern vibe and spectacular views of Singapore’s CBD skyline and Marina Bay, try rooftop bar Ku Dé Ta Club Lounge. And be sure to make time for a Singapore Sling at The Raffles Long Bar, particularly as the city’s legendary 100-year-old cocktail is also celebrating its anniversary this year. Singapore is also home to some of Asia’s hottest hotels. The city’s most legendary lodgings would have to be the Raffles Singapore, who’s splendidly moustachioed doormen are ready to welcome guests in to a sanctuary that seamlessly combines modern luxury and old-world gravitas. If you prefer a modern vibe, the space-age stylings of Marina Bay Sands may be more to your taste. With its three gleaming hotel towers topped by an extraordinary sky park and infinity pool, taking a little time out to lounge on its rooftop pool deck is a must. One of the coolest new kids on the block is Sofitel So. Located in a restored heritage building just minutes away from city landmarks and the culinary wonders of Lau Pa Sat and Chinatown, the opulent boutique hotel boasts decadent guest rooms designed with a luxuriously French twist by designer Karl Lagerfeld. • Photography by Aleney De Winter and Singapore Tourism Board

travel facts Getting there Jetstar flies to Singapore from Melbourne, Darwin and Perth. Where to Stay • Sofitel So: • Raffles Singapore: • Marina Bay Sands: Eat & Drink • Waku Ghin: • Tiffin Room at Raffles: • Singapore Flyer Sky Dining: • Ku Dé Ta: Events Further Information Your Singapore:


Treat your senses in Singapore. Fly direct to Singapore with Jetstar and discover a multicultural paradise. A diverse blend of East and West, old and new, natural and man-made and, above all, local cuisine! You’ll love exploring the myriad of options this vibrant city has to offer. To book your Jetstar low fare to Singapore, visit

Melbourne (Tullamarine) to:


up to 5 x weekly

Darwin to:


Perth to:

up to 4 x weekly^


up to 13 x weekly ^

^Flights from Darwin and Perth to Singapore are operated by Jetstar Asia (3K). Schedule correct as at 05.06.2015, and is subject to change. Before you book your international flight, and before you travel, check current Australian Government travel advisories on Jetstar Airways Pty Ltd - ABN: 33 069 720 243. JET5932/SIN

to market, to market BY Julie Miller

In Bangkok, shopping is not a necessity or even a pastime – it’s an obsession, but while megamalls are popping up like mushrooms, markets are still going strong. –140–



ow many Louis Vuitton stores does one city need?” I ask my guide incredulously as we pass Bangkok’s glittering new Central Embassy shopping mall, its outdoor red carpet an invitation to six-star opulence. “Lots. One in each mall.” Suree replies cheerily. “People from Bangkok love to shop!” That’s an understatement. Malls stay open until 10pm each night, and there seems to be a new monolith under construction on every street corner. Unfortunately, the unquenchable thirst for air-conditioned shopping complexes has come at the expense of some of Bangkok’s most iconic street markets. In 2011, the popular Suan Lum Night Bazaar in Lumphini was shut down to make way for yet another megamall, despite cries of derision from stall owners, locals and tourists alike. But when one market closes, so another opens – and Bangkok’s market scene is as healthy as ever, with stalls operating day and night in some of the most interesting and vibrant pockets of the city.

shopping spree Clockwise from left: Tasty desserts, Thai style; Bunnies in dresses at Chatuchak; Shopping for produce in a market stall; Massage tent at Chatuchak; Tha Kha Floating Market Opening image: Tourists shop at Chatuchak Weekend Market/Shutterstock


Chatuchak Weekend Market Located on the outskirts of Bangkok, but easily accessible by MRT (Kamphaengpecth Station) or Skytrain BTS (Mochit Station) from the city centre, this is the granddaddy of all markets – one of the largest in the world, covering more than 10 hectares of land and attracting up to 200,000 people each weekend. There are more than 15,000 booths in this chaotic, sweaty maze, selling everything from handicrafts and homewares to pet rabbits and pythons. The market is divided into 27 sections in numbered alleys (or sois), so you can tailor your shopping to what you are looking for. There are also plenty of food vendors, and you can literally ‘shop till you drop’ – straight into a chair for a well-deserved foot massage. It’s open weekends from 9am–6pm.

JJ Green Night Market Located in Queen Sirikit Park adjacent to Chatuchak (and a great add-on if you have the shopping stamina), this new night market – also known as the Siam Gypsy Market – has more of a local vibe, attracting an eclectic hipster crowd with its vintage fashions, retro collectables, classic bikes and flea market bargains. It’s worth the trek out to enjoy the

bangkok bite

atmosphere, feasting on street food or enjoying live music in the cool bars. It’s a short walk from the Mochit BTS station and is open Thursday to Sunday from 5pm–1.30am.

Patpong Night Market One of the better-known markets in Bangkok, this is – like the area it is located in – somewhat trashy … but that’s part of the appeal. This is where tourists come to buy rip-off handbags, Singha T-shirts and fishermen pants before heading off to a girlie bar and other such tawdry activities. A must-do for first-timers in the city, despite not being the most authentic market experience. Bargain hard – the vendors here can take advantage of inexperienced tourists with over-inflated prices. Patpong is a five-minute walk from Sala Daeng BTS station in Silom, and is open 6pm–1am daily.

Asiatique This riverfront entertainment complex, opened in 2012, is a unique combination of air-conditioned shopping complex and night market, with 1,500 boutiques, high-end sit-down international restaurants, a beer garden and food court, plus attractions such as a Ferris Wheel, cabaret show, puppet theatre and a 4D cinema. The fixed market stalls – many of which are located in a converted 100-year-old warehouse – offer classy home furnishings, handicrafts and clothing; many of the prices are fixed, though some stalls still allow bargaining. Catch Asiatique’s free shuttle boat from Saphan Taksin bridge BTS station. It’s open 5pm–midnight daily.

Below: Happy street food vendor

Street food markets As the sun sets over Bangkok, so the sidewalks become pop-up dining rooms as the streets are taken over by food vendors and market stalls. There are dozens of pockets in the city where the street-food is especially acclaimed; a great initiation is Sukhumvit Soi 38, which is easily accessible from Thong Lor BTS station. The Pad Thai maker near the soi entrance whips up a legendary batch of noodles; or try the northern delicacy of Khao Soi followed by mango sticky rice. Plonk yourself down on a plastic stool around a rickety metal table adorned with toilet-paper napkins and bottles of chilli, grab a Chang beer and enjoy the infectious buzz of a truly vibrant, authentic Bangkok experience. Not to mention cheap as (or should I say, cheaper than) chips! It’s located at the end of Sukhumvit Soi 38 near the BTS. It’s open daily from 6pm-late.


breathe in Clockwise from left: Panic as the train approaches; Train’s a’coming!; Brass statuettes from a market stall

Floating markets Once the most authentic way to buy handicrafts and fresh produce on the waterways that criss-cross the City of Angels, the few remaining floating markets are now operated largely for tourists. However, they are still a must-see; colourful, lively and providing great photo opportunities. The largest and most touristy floating market is Damnoen Saduak, located an hour from the city and usually visited via an organised tour. It’s a fabulous sight as longtail boats jostle for space, hawking carved wooden elephants, t-shirts, coconut juice, fresh fruit and delicious, freshly cooked skewers. Further out but a little more authentic are the smaller Amphawa and Tha Kha floating markets (often visited in conjunction with the Railway Market – see below). Visitors usually combine a boat journey along the klongs with some market shopping, topped off by a fresh seafood feast enjoyed on the steps of the canal. Most floating markets operate early morning till lunchtime. Check out the list of day tour options at

Maeklong Railway Market Imagine a market that has grown so large it has crept onto nearby railway tracks … now imagine the train pulling into the station, and the frantic disassembly of stalls, removal of crates


and bodies pressed against the wall as the train descends. This hilarious piece of theatre occurs four times daily at the local market at Maeklong, a 90-minute drive from Bangkok. The market – nicknamed Talad Rom Hoop, meaning Umbrella Pull-down Market – sells mostly fresh produce and home essentials, but the curiosity factor alone draws international visitors, turning an otherwise dull local event into an entertaining tourist attraction. Although usually visited with a tour group or private driver, independent travellers can travel by train from Bangkok to Samut Sakhon, changing to a local line to Maeklong. It’s open daily, so check the timetable to make sure you are there when the train arrives. • Photography by Julie Miller

travel facts Getting there Jetstar flies direct from Melbourne to Bangkok with easy connections from other major cities. Where to stay • Peninsula Bangkok: • Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao Bangkok: Further information Tourism Authority of Thailand:

Overindulge in Thailand. Fly direct to Thailand on Jetstar’s Dreamliner and discover a country with a licence to thrill. Temples, street food, shopping and nightlife, whatever your pleasure, Bangkok will indulge it. If gorgeous beaches and turquoise water is what you’re after, Phuket is the pleasure-seeking place of your dreams. Fly direct with Jetstar to recharge your batteries, hop around the scenic islands and enjoy the beautiful cuisine and beach culture. To book your Jetstar low fare to Bangkok or Phuket, visit

Melbourne (Tullamarine) to:


up to 3 x weekly

Melbourne (Tullamarine) to:


up to 3 x weekly

Sydney to:


up to 3 x weekly Schedule correct as at 05.06.2015, and is subject to change. Before you book your international flight, and before you travel, check current Australian Government travel advisories on Jetstar Airways Pty Ltd - ABN: 33 069 720 243. JET5932/BKK

rabaul’s REVIVAL by christine retchslag

Rabaul, situated on the island of New Britain in Papua New Guinea, has experienced two World Wars and multiple eruptions of its active volcano, to not only survive, but thrive.


abaul Hotel owner Suzie McGrade plonks herself down in her eclectic dining room, a curious blend of tribal masks and Moët bottles, and announces to no one in particular that she hates Australians. The irony of course being that Suzie not only speaks with that unmistakable Aussie twang, but has peppered her statement with an expletive in that trademark Antipodean way that sets us apart from the rest of the world. But despite attending boarding school at Brisbane’s Clayfield College, Suzie regards herself as a third-generation Rabaul resident and a Papua New Guinea (PNG) national. And


she doesn’t really hate Australians, she’s just passionate and fiery, like the volatile Tavurvur volcano, which towers over her establishment. Suzie knows all about Madam Tavurvur, for it was this active volcano, which last erupted in 1994, burying much of Rabaul town under four metres of ash. But despite suffering some damage, the Rabaul Hotel, which Suzie’s family bought from former PNG Prime Minister Sir Julius Chan, continued trading throughout the destruction. You’ve got to be tough in these parts to survive what PNG throws at you, for there’s a price to pay for living in paradise, and Rabaul has seen it all.


in memoriam Clockwise from right: Allied Bitapaka War Cemetery; Rababa Hot Springs/ David Kirkland; Fresh Red Emperor; Mioko Village Elder; Traditional Village Cooking Opening image: A local weaver/David Kirkland

But we’re not really here to talk about the volcano, as pivotal as she is in the Rabaul story, having exploded five times since 1767, but the region’s war history, and Australia’s link to the area. While many Australians know of our country’s war links with PNG through Port Moresby and the Kokoda Track, few realise that it was actually in Rabaul that the first Aussie soldier died in 1914. When the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force landed on the island on 11 September 1914, it became embroiled in one of the earliest battles of World War One between the Allies and the Germans. Six Australians, one German and 30 New Guineans died, although Australia went on to occupy the island for the duration of the war. Despite being in the middle of nowhere, and in fact, because of it, the Japanese decided PNG and Rabaul itself was the perfect place from which to stage their campaign during World War Two, considering it “the centre of the South Pacific”. It is even believed that it is from Rabaul that Japanese Commander Isoroku Yamamoto, whose bunker still sits on the island near the Niugini Club, concocted his plan to bomb Pearl Harbor. Yes, there is war history galore on this island and you don’t have to trek far to find it. Even at Suzie’s hotel, the swimming pool is built on top of an old Japanese bunker and is one of numerous relics on the island, which remain relatively undiscovered by tourists. “If you know your history, you will know how significant it all is,” Suzie says. “For Australia, it is very significant because Rabaul played a huge role in World War One. Many Australians just think about Kokoda but they don’t realise Rabaul is where the first Australians died in any war.” While Rabaul is busy rebuilding 20 years after its last volcanic eruption, there’s still some war sites to visit such as the Niugini Club itself which houses much of the documented war history and is home to original relics such as a Japanese machine gun and land mine which dates back to 1933. But the story doesn’t end there. Follow the coast road south towards Kokopo, to where many of the hotels, businesses and residents relocated after 1994, and you’ll find seven tunnels that the Japanese forced POWs from the Philippines, China, Australia, India and the Solomon Islands to build. In fact, there are believed to be around 336 tunnels scattered around the island, which were used by the Japanese to hide ammunition, food, supplies and themselves during World War Two air raids. Close to the seven tunnels, which sit right along the roadside, there is another larger tunnel, measuring 200 metres long, and in which lay the rusty remains of five barges, which the Japanese used to transport cargo supplies around the Pacific Islands. –148–

“There is war history galore on this island and you don’t have to trek far to find it”

From his office based at the Kokopo War Museum, which is a virtual graveyard of war relics and machines, local historian and tour operator Samson Kakai talks about his ‘Escape from Rabaul’ Trek. The seven- to eight-day tour has been designed to emulate the trek of 1200 members of an Australian military unit, which fled when the Japanese forces invaded in 1942, and takes tourists from Rabaul to White Bay. “There’s more to PNG than Kokoda,” Samson says. “We see the importance of Kokoda but encourage people to come along and do the Lark Force trek too.”

Inland from Kokopo sits one of the most accessible ways to pay homage to fallen Australian soldiers. The Bitapaka War Cemetery, funded by AusAID, commemorated its 100th anniversary last year, and is the final resting place for over 1100 buried allied soldiers and more than 1000 without gravesites. There’s even said to be a remaining tree used by the Germans to climb and shoot at the Australian soldiers. While the Japanese have no cemeteries on the island, the bones of Japanese soldiers remain around Rabaul and Kokopo and bone collectors have been known to arrive from Japan to perform cremations on the beach in front of places such as the Kokopo Beach Bungalow Resort, before taking the ashes home. Almost every hotel here, it seems, carries a war story, including the nearby Rapopo Plantation Resort, a former coconut plantation which became the site of a Japanese

fighter airstrip. The resort is also home to Kabaira Dive, the island’s only dive operation, which offers snorkelling and dive tours to 12 ship wreck sites off of Rabaul/Kokopo. It also conducts tours out to the Duke of York Islands where the remains of a German tank sits in just under five metres of water, making it a snorkeller’s paradise. So rich in war history is Rabaul and Kokopo, that local Tolai man and historian Gideon Kakabin is currently working on an asset register of historical locations, relics, stories, arts and crafts, masks and legends for which this region is renowned. At last count, he has documented more than 3000 items. But while it would be tempting to totally immerse yourself in the war story of Rabaul, take some time to soak up the culture of its peaceful people. For here you can visit traditional villages and experience authentic cultural life while partaking


war games Left and below: Japanese Tunnel; Local kids at play/David Kirkland

“… there are believed to be around 336 tunnels scattered around the island, which were used by the Japanese to hide ammunition, food, supplies and themselves during World War Two…” in a feast or mumu of food wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in coals. Paddle a sea kayak or an outrigger canoe and fish for tropical species like a local. Head out to the Duke of York Islands, where the missionaries first arrived in 1875, and spot pods of dolphins and flocks of flying fish. Visit the hot springs at the foot of the volcano which reach a boiling 74 degrees Celsius and are said to have reminded the Japanese soldiers of hot baths back home. Witness fire dancing, experience a mask ceremony, or attend a festival which celebrates the survival of this land. And meet the colourful characters whose peaceful optimism ensures that Rabaul and Kokopo will survive for centuries to come. • Photography courtesy David Kirkland and Christine Retschlag

travel facts GETTING THERE Air Niugini has direct weekly flights from Cairns to Rabaul and more regular flights from Brisbane and Sydney via Port Moresby. WHEN TO GO PNG temperatures remain fairly hot and humid year round, however May to October are considered the most ideal as they fall outside of the monsoon and are generally cooler and drier months. WHERE TO STAY Kokopo Beach Bungalow Resort, on Blanche Bay, offers guests a taste of traditional Papua New Guinea from its timber beach bungalows, to the masks which adorn the walls and the thatched sago roof of its bar and restaurant. Boasting a conference room which caters for up to 80 people and an expansive treetop deck overlooking the ocean, there’s 39 rooms here including four self-contained suites, separate waterfront bungalows and two-storey executive bungalows. A two-room day spa bungalow offering a range of massage and beauty treatments, sits right on the beachfront here. FURTHER INFORMATION Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotions Authority:


E V ’ U O Y THINK ? L L A T I SEEN COASTAL RELAXATION PNG Holidays 7 nights at Tawali Resort departing from Cairns, Brisbane or Sydney

Package Prices: From $1795 per person‌

Includes: Twin or double share, economy airfares, return airport transfers, all meals with water or juice, tea and coffee, and fuel surcharges. Additional days or shorter stays available. Valid until 31 Dec 2015. Single supplement available.

Phone: Web: Email: Facebook:

1300 368 855

branching out

BY Christine Retschlag

From the jungles of Indonesia to the beaches of Vietnam, Banyan Tree delivers the complete holiday experience.


WENTY-one years ago, the first seeds of the Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts brand were planted in Phuket. Now, the group has branches around the globe, including the Banyan Tree Bintan Island in Indonesia and Banyan Tree Lang Co in Vietnam. While the superior standards and excellent service remain consistently “same same”, each resort is also delightfully different. It’s easy to imagine why the Javanese Rhino and Sumatran Tiger used to roam this lush land, all jungle green eventually conceding to the bright blue South China Sea beyond. But hunted for their horn and skin, these exotic animals no longer form part of the story of Indonesia’s Bintan Island, which is now home to mammoth monitor lizards, cheeky monkeys, brazen birds, and hapless humans –152–

searching for “rustic luxury” a short ferry ride away from Singapore. On this particular day, somewhere in the distance, the sultry scent of clove cigarettes lingers in the air and mingles with the words of “Swiss by birth, Australian by choice” Bintan Island Banyan Tree General Manager Stefan Thumiger who is explaining the concept they have created here, employing local Indonesians, many of whom have clocked up 20 years at the resort. “I’ve worked in many countries around the world but the staff I’ve had here are the best I’ve ever had. What else do you want but somebody who really cares about you and looks after you? They are not here to do a job, it is a passion,” he says. “There is some really exciting stuff coming to Bintan and it is going to be great and put

the destination back on track. What is great is there are more and more activities happening now. We’re 45 minutes away from Singapore, ferries will be increasing and we have Singapore drinking water and Singapore standards. “The real magic is it is a getaway close to Singapore. One minute you are sitting in the hustle and bustle of Singapore and you go through this mega harbour and you arrive here and you have the monkeys and you are sitting in the middle of the jungle.” Stefan points out the pitched Balinese roofs, or alang alang, all hand-made and weaved, which capture the spirit of Indonesia. It’s a theme which is sprinkled throughout this resort including its Treetops Restaurant which perches high above the water where a bright blue Indonesian fishing boat waits patiently

for its catch below. Glance out at the horizon, and on one side you can peek at Singapore, on the other, sits Malaysia. Yes, here you are in the throbbing heart of Asia but at a delicious distance from the colourful chaos for which it is renowned. Measuring some 23,188 square metres and part of the Riau group of islands, Bintan is believed to be some four times the size of Singapore. The Banyan Tree itself consists of 64 luxury villas and is home to an integrated resort concept which incorporates sister brands and neighbouring properties Angsana, and the new Cassia development – all three named after plants or trees. But while Angsana is home to an impressive conservation lab which protects hawksbill and green turtles, it’s the Banyan Tree property which steals the show here. The resort offers a –153–

number of exotic and innovative dining options designed to take advantage of its natural environment and one of the most popular is the Dinner of the Legend, in which an Indonesian Rijstafel – which literally translates into “rice table” – is served. This “destination dining” experience will lead you to the beach where you’ll sit among billowing chiffon and be served 12 courses, among them long bean and minced chicken salad in spiced coconut milk; and Javanese jelly coconut milk and palm sugar.

By the beachfront in Danang Delectable dining is the hallmark of any Banyan Tree experience and you’ll discover more at the Banyan Tree Lang Co in Vietnam. Easily accessible via Danang Airport, you’ll drive along the long, lazy Danang beachfront with its fold-up chairs on which you can consume Vietnamese coffee and local beer; and past rice paddies, mountains and sand dunes before arriving at this remote beachside destination. But while this resort may be isolated, no stone has been left unturned when it comes to detail. Capturing the lantern and fishing elements of the charming World Heritage City of Hoi An about –154–

90 minutes away, there are 49 luxury villas here, in which a Vietnamese art master and his five students have painted individual lotus flowers on a giant feature wall behind each bed. The villas themselves are inspired by traditional Hue garden houses and an elaborate coin design on the doors and lamps relates back to the Nguyen Dynasty – the last ruling family of Vietnam who held power for 143 years from 1802. Coffee tables around the resort are also replicas of a drum which dates back 4000 years and there’s even a gong to announce the arrival of guests. The hotel’s nearby Organic Farm, run by Executive Chef Anders Ho Groenholm, is a highlight of a stay here and the reason behind why the food served at the resort tastes as fresh as if it had arrived from a Vietnamese grandmother’s kitchen itself. “This organic garden was made last year and we are very proud of it,” Anders says. “The purpose as a chef is to be able to handpick ingredients to avoid pesticides so we know for a fact that it is organic. “Herbs are a big part of Vietnamese food. We will go in the

morning with a little basket and pick out only what we need for the day.” Guests at the resort can partake in a cooking class smack bang in the middle of the farm, among garden beds of fresh basil, mint, mustard greens, tomatoes and lettuce. It was these ingredients that the hotel used last year to create the world’s largest spring roll measuring 520 metres from the Banyan Tree to its sister resort Angsana. Utilised as part of a team-building exercise, 120 staff dined on the giant spring roll which consisted of 600 pieces of 1 metre rice paper sheets; 40kg butter lettuce; 60kg sliced carrots; 60kg sliced cucumbers; 70kg papaya; 25kg fresh Vietnamese mint; and 25kg fresh Vietnamese basil. But arguably the most charming feature of this establishment is its links with Hoi An, where it runs a restaurant called Seedlings. Under the motto: “Plant a seed, change a life”, the Banyan Tree Lang Co works with local NGOs to identify youths at risk and provide hospitality training in Seedlings. Around 36 students have been through the program since it started about two years ago, and many of them have been offered opportunities at the Banyan Tree and Angsana or other five-star resorts in the region. One suspects that even those who first envisaged the Banyan Tree concept some 21 years ago would never have imagined how each hotel and resort would interpret the tale in those distinct destinations around the world. The brand now boasts 30 resorts and hotels, 70 spas, 90 retail galleries and three championship golf courses in 28 countries. Casting its origins back to the original Banyan Tree, which was designed to provide shelter to weary travellers, the Banyan Tree group continues to tend to its tourism garden, sowing its seeds and spreading its branches in the sophisticated style with which it is synonymous. • Photography by Christine Retschlag and Banyan Tree.

dreamtime Above: Lagoon Pool Villa, Lang Co Opposite page, clockwise from top left: Organic garden, Lang Co; Restaurant, Lang Co; Pool, Bintan; Pool Villa, Bintan; Spa, Lang Co Opening image: Banyan Tree Lang Co overview

travel facts GETTING THERE: • Scoot Airlines has regular flights from the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney to Singapore. • The Tanah Merry Ferry Terminal is about a 10-minute taxi ride from Changi Airport. There are several ferries each day to the resorts on Bintan Island, including the Banyan Tree. • To travel to the Banyan Tree Lang Co, SilkAir has regular flights to Danang from Singapore. WHEN TO GO: Bintan Island: Due to its proximity to the Equator, the weather on Bintan Island remains relatively the same all year round and is hot and humid. The wet season, when temperatures are slightly cooler, runs from around November to March. Lang Co: The northern hemisphere winter/Australian summer is the best time to visit this part of Vietnam which becomes hot and humid during the northern summer (June to August). FURTHER INFORMATION Banyan Tree: –155–

family ties in

paradise BY Jennifer Berry

A century after finding their patch of paradise on the island of Ghizo, Jennifer Berry returns to the Solomon Islands to retrace her British family’s heritage and to sample the Solomon Islands’ iridescent waters and tropical splendour. –156–


t wasn’t the tales of fierce warriors, wild ceremonial dances and seafaring villagers in dugout canoes that brought me back to Gizo. Or the October trade winds rustling through swaying coconut palms. Even the corroded World War II relics that lay dormant, deep in the shadows of the island’s turquoise waters. It was the discovery of my British grandfather’s war journal that enticed me to journey back in time to when copra was king and the old Empire clung to its crown jewels amid faded glory, tropical garden parties and a cool glass of gin. To some they were halcyon days, the last days of paradise before the Japanese launched their airborne and naval assault on the Solomons in 1942. But to my family, it was their way of life – and a chance to shoot out from obscurity and inhale the heady scent of dried coconut kernels and makeshift grandeur. Purchasing the first of

several copra plantations on neighbouring Simbo in 1911 before buying land on Liapara and Vella Lavella in the Western Province, they also built a general store at No 2 Gizo Road, near Gizo’s present day wharf. Bathed in British nostalgia, the quiet rhythms of island life centred on overseeing and exporting the production of copra, operating the store – which became a hotspot during the evacuation of Gizo in January 1942 after Tulagi was attacked by Japanese forces and neighbouring Keita had fallen – and in a moment of downtime, sitting in high-back wicker chairs spread out on adjoining lawns or in the afternoon shade on the patio. Here men’s tobacco pipes would fire up, tea cups clattered and politics of the day would be argued – the mounting tensions in Europe; the declining price of copra – and feminine chatter recalled a dashing young Errol Flynn, who chartered a


haus sitting Clockwise from right: On the front porch of my grandfather’s plantation house circa 1925; A young Solomon Island boy jumps into the sea. Villagers live close to the sea in this area and depend on the environment for natural resources; The island of Ghizo’s iridescent waters and towering coconut palms flank an islander’s home; A crown-of-thorns starfish feeds on a table coral. This species can decimate entire coral reefs when in outbreak numbers; Warriors circa 1924 Opening image: Family memorabilia of a life on Ghizo

schooner around the islands and left in his wake a swoon of broken hearts and unpaid debts – my family included. Although those days are now gone and only live on in patchwork diaries and faded photographs, there’s magic conjured up when titillating narratives are woven into Gizo’s history, the Solomon Islands’ second largest town and the Western province’s pivotal hub. Located east of New Guinea amid a far-flung archipelago of exotic atolls, jagged reefs and sandy beaches, Gizo started as a backwater paradise – a raw and a uncivilised one, to be sure, but a South Seas paradise nevertheless, mainly attracting itinerant wayfarers and colonialists. First came the European explorers before the British traders who arrogantly claimed the islands as their own, for King and country. Then in 1927, the region trembled between beauty and brutality when the confiscation of British guns and the collection taxes triggered the 1927 Kwaio in Malatia. It was this rebellion more than the islanders’ legacy of tribal headhunting and cannibalism that gave the Solomons its unruly reputation. Yet Ghizo – named for a legendary headhunter – has long been steeped in fierce legends and rich Melanesian culture where trade centred on seafood, shells, yams and taro. As I walk along Gizo’s present day wharf – an artery of colourful marketplaces and a sputter of motorised canoes – I discover the essence of island life has changed very little. Fused with the frenetic sound of Pidgin at betel nut stalls and the sweet pungent scent of frangipani, steaming clams and fermented fruit, I feel a sense of familiarity here as dogs smooch around rattan mats and children weave in and behind a cluster of old toothless women selling bananas and ripened paw-paw, each sporting blood-red smiles from the unremitting chewing of the wad of betel plants. A break in the squadron of stalls leads me overlooking the waterfront where nostalgia comes easily beyond the shoreline and breakaway islands abound by the hundreds in these waters. Near to where the present day airport lies on a nearby atoll, steam-powered clippers once anchored and rickety bi-planes – an anomaly to many at that time – swooped in and touched down in the saltwater lagoon, bringing much-welcomed mail, goods and missionaries preaching God. Back then, few things would inflame the imagination than sacrificial festivals and ceremonial dances with fierce-looking warriors adorned in palm-frond skirts, shell-beads and dolphin teeth; each stomping their rhythmical feet while brandishing hand-carved shields, seed hand rattles and intimidating spears –158–

“I take refuge in its open-air Leaf Haus Bar overlooking the water – a view reminiscent of my grandparents’ lost world”

that were blessed by a tabu marker with the power to find their mark. Like many of the easy-going locals I get to know, their demeanour thinly veils an intense pride in their ancestry, and of the ancestral ghosts that gave their chiefs and warriors untold powers. At least, that is how it lives in my family’s memories. There are many new eco-lodges that have returned to the Western Province’s grass roots along the shorelines – Fatboys on Ghizo, Sanbis Resort at Mbabanga Island and further afield, Uepi Resort at Marovo Lagoon, now nominated as a World Heritage-listed site. But it is at the Gizo Hotel which sits on the fringe of the town’s harbour where I take refuge in its open-air Leaf Haus Bar overlooking the water – a view reminiscent of my grandparents’ lost world. It’s easy to pass time here. Hours drift by unnoticed and the cycle of sun and rain fuse one moment into the next. But before I can unwind, a tropical downpour begins to drown out the conversation I find myself drawn to

where small children paddle near the shores in dugout canoes. It is the relic of the Toa Maru, a Japanese transport ship with some of its cargo still aboard along with a Japanese Zero that I’ve come to see – fighter planes that once released bombs near my grandfather’s boat in his quest to escape after he and two men destroyed the last remaining petrol supplies and copra sheds along Gizo’s wharf; an explosion that rose and lit up the night sky. On Vella Lavella, I am alone in this wild spot but it’s far from silent. A warm breeze rattles the palms. A red-tail tropic bird calls out from a banana tree. And the trail I am searching for that would lead me to one of my grandfather’s plantations is lost to another time. Before the tourists came – long before the Japanese invaders and British colonialists. I begin to feel as if something is calling me. It is of a paradise lost, something wild and beautiful that cannot be put into the palm of my hand. It is the ghosts of past chiefs. And with that, I pay my respects and walk on. • Photography by Jennifer Berry, Shutterstock and Nick Berry

– another part of the island’s history I have not experienced. On Ghizo, it is the surrounding waters that dominates the rhythms of island life. After lunch and on island time, just as the tide pulls back to reveal shimmering white sand and sunbleached sea shells, I meet David Alasa’a on nearby Kohinggo Island. David leads me up a sleepy jungle track to view a U.S. Sherman tank, one of the many Allied and Japanese relics that lie in an entangled canopy across the archipelago. But as the imprint of WWII fades, the thrill of coming nose-to-nose with sunken ships, submarines and planes from the Solomons’ theatre of war has turned the Western Province into a ribbon of dive sites. The coral cays that encircle the many outer islands off Ghizo are popular hotspots for low-impact deep sea diving and snorkelling, protected zones that take me amongst exotic marine life, light-filtered caverns and colourful reefs that turn the waters into a riot of psychedelic hues. On this particular afternoon I come upon a group of manta rays, turtles and a remarkably intact American Hellcat fighter plane, not far from

travel facts GETTING THERE • Solomon Airlines: • Virgin Australia: WHERE TO STAY • Gizo Hotel: • Fatboys Resort Solomon Islands: • Uepi Island Resort: THINGS TO DO • Dive Gizo: • Dive Adventures: FURTHER INFORMATION Visit Solomons: –159–

global spas Compiled by Lisa Perkovic

Karma Spa, Jalan Villa Kandara, Bali

Thanda Spa, Thanda Private Game Reserve, South Africa

There’s nothing ordinary about a safari in South Africa so why should your spa be any different? Thanda Tented Camp on the open plains of Thanda Private Game Reserve in Zululand provides luxury safari experiences that aren’t all about the animal sightings. In a canvas Spa Tent guests can indulge in Zulu-inspired treatments. The Zulwini Massage and Ebuhleni Facials are set to the rhythms of Zulu music, while the Ndlovu Walk, translated to Elephant Walk, is a pressurebased massage. Guests in the nearby Thanda Safari Lodge also have access to the permanent Thanda Spa, with two new treatment rooms, sauna, rock pool and hydrobath on offer. The spa’s ‘Happy Feet’ treatment for kids is popular with little ones, as is the Princess Facial on the dedicated kids menu.

Look no further than Bali for big, beautiful spas. Karma Spa at Jalan Villa Kandara, is no exception. The awardwinning spa recently introduced Oxygen Facials, Cosmetic Facial Acupuncture and three Spiritual Excursions to add to its comprehensive menu. The Spiritual Excursions are led by the property’s resident priest Ibu Jero Gambuh and includes a tour of the Seven Chakra Sacred Fountain, with rituals to purify chakra energies. Blessings, meditations and chants are part of the process, and guests are advised to bring a spare pair of clothing as they will get wet. If that’s a little too adventurous, the Karma Spa’s luxury massage pavilions are set into limestone cliffs, with an open-air Himalayan Crystal Salt pool and an Infrared Detox Sauna on site too.

Seabourn Odyssey Spa Suites

What could be more decadent than a full-size bath at sea? A Penthouse Suite to house that bath. The Seabourn Odyssey is the latest Seabourn vessel to get its own Penthouse Spa Suites. Just four spa suites, each over 500 square feet in size, have been installed directly above the ship’s spa. Each suite has a full size bath, shower, separate living and sleeping areas, 100 square foot verandah and two mini bars. Along with the standard mini bar selection, the additional mini bar is stocked with healthy smoothies, juices, nuts and dried fruits. In line with Seabourn’s commitment to simple luxuries, the suites are modern yet comfortable, with plenty of space and all the little extras that make a stay at sea extra special. Guests staying in the Penthouse Suites have unlimited access to the Spa’s Serene Area – heated lounge chairs, mineral baths and verandah – along with a spa concierge. –160–

tried & tested

Chiva-Som Trumps Spa,

InterContinental Sydney Double Bay

Sydney’s newest five-star hotel is now home to a luxury spa, with the arrival of Trumps Spa. The hairdressing salon and spa is the first full-service spa in Double Bay, the elite Eastern Suburbs locale with a reputation for luxury outfits and big brand names. The Spa has its own steam and sauna facilities, with six treatment rooms, including a hydrotherapy spa, vichy shower and chromotherapy room, beauty stations and a private VIP room with private entrance. The full service salon has eight stations – the only full-size salon and spa in Double Bay. The spa’s décor is soft and chic, with modern Moroccan influences. Expect gold drop lights, metal lattice walls, Vogue coffee table books and signature seasonal teas in the waiting room before moving onto your treatment. Trumps Spa puts the emphasis on attention to detail – rooms are given character by gold foiled feature walls, beautiful antique side boards, clusters of Moroccan candle holders and delicate jewellery boxes. Signature Trumps therapies focus heavily on facials, with an extensive range of options including French skincare range Payor and local Sodashi products. Whether it’s a relaxing Pre-Party facial, face peels in mild, medium and strong strength or a longer post-surgery cicaexpert treatment, there’s no shortage of options for a facial. There’s also plenty of choice when it comes to body treatments too, from firming body wraps and organic green tea salt therapy exfoliations to a large range of men’s skin therapy treatments. By Lisa Perkovic

International Health Resort, Hua Hin Thailand

If you’re after more than just a massage on your next resort holiday, this holistic health and wellness retreat is worth considering. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Chiva-Som sits at the edge of the Gulf of Thailand in the resort town of Hua Hin and is a world away from the rat race (but only a two hour drive from Bangkok). Guests begin their stay with a consultation and the creation of their own wellness program. From weight management and anti-aging to altitude training and crystal therapy, there are more than 200 treatments on offer to guests. The spa team of 56 includes 15 full time physio therapists, in response to a growing shift the resort has seen towards physiotherapy. There’s also spa therapists, naturopaths, nutritionists, consulting doctors and natural health therapists. There are a whopping 76 treatment rooms on site, with a focus on simple aesthetics rather than the bells and whistles of some modern spas. The altitude room is busy with guests stopping in en route to Bhutan or those who want to train high and live low. A stay at Chiva-Som is definitely not a boot camp experience – the focus is on sustainable wellbeing. The chefs are famous for their dark chocolate desserts and healthy versions of traditional comfort food. By Lisa Perkovic


Bay of Fires Lodge Spa, Tasmania

Located in what is possibly Australia’s most secluded and private setting, this small spa sits perched above the stunning Bay of Fires. Accessible only to those who have completed the Bay of Fires Lodge Walk, this spa has just one treatment room and one bath tub but it’s all about quality not quantity. Treatments are inspired by Indigenous healing practices, with a focus on working knots out of sore muscles with the aid of Li’Tya nature spa care products. Mayi Mapyi ochre body mud wrap, desert salt exfoliations, quandong hair masks and foot massages banish any memories of wearing a backpack for the past two days but it’s really a bath that’s best post-hike. Walk down the bush path, past a ‘Bath in Use’ sign, to a jaw dropping outdoor bathing pavilion. The bath sits on the edge of the open air timber shelter, looking straight out across the treetops to the Bay of Fires beyond. The Jiga Jina Bath Soak ritual sees you easing sore muscles into the steaming bathwater scattered with Australian flowers and berries, for a blissful half-hour. Birds, bees, sometimes even the wallabies, pass by as you soak up the scenery. The monsoon shower is also on hand, if you need to rinse off before hopping in – hikers have been known to head straight from the walking track to the bath tub. By Lisa Perkovic

Lembah Spa, Viceroy Bali

The location of this luxury spa is enough of a reason to put it on your must do list. Perched over the edge of the Petanu River Gorge in Ubud, the spa is small and private; appropriate given it is part of the Viceroy Bali, home to just 25 private pool villas. The spa’s cantilevered relaxation decks take in a stunning bird’s eye view over the lush region and a beautiful plunge pool to be enjoyed pre and post treatment. If you can tear yourself away from the view, treatments are influenced by local Balinese wellness techniques and modern Western principles. Single and double treatment rooms are bright and airy, with big windows looking out onto the Ubud greenery. If you’re keen to get out and explore that scenery, Lembah offers Activity Spa Treatments – start the day with yoga sessions, cycling or trekking before finishing up with massages, scrubs, yoghurt body masks, flower baths and time in the Jacuzzi. The best of both worlds. For those interested in just the indulgent spa session, the Feminine/Masculine Spa Package is a decadent three-hour experience designed for couples. Body scrubs, aromatherapy massages and baths are just the beginning. By Anthony Gallagher


Sofitel Bora

Bora Private Island Spa, Tahiti

It is certainly about quality, not quantity at the tranquil spa on the idyllic Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island. This spectacular resort has only 31 bungalows, located either over water or on the shore, sitting pretty under a calming fringe of green. The spa consists of just one bungalow, with a beautiful view over that mesmerising turquoise lagoon that surrounds the island. The spa menu offers Shiatsu, a range of massages, body scrubs and rehydration treatments, and I choose the Polynesian Massage in a nod to the location. After donning a colourful pareo (sarong), the charming masseuse asks me to select from three oils, and after a foot bath, it’s onto the comfortable massage table and into dreamland. The Polynesian massage promises that the recipient ‘will be lulled by fluid movements that represents the waves of the sea on the body’. Her sweeping hands found knots and worked on them, soothed muscle aches and pains and left me in a state of Bora Bora bliss. Paradise found indeed. By Helen Hayes

Be free at Malolo! Malolo Island Resort is about a bure near the beach, surroundedby the world’s friendliest people with a living and authentic culture. Perfect for families and couples alike, you can fill your day with a myriad of activities or simply unwind and do nothing at all. Year round choose from F$200 resort credits, Kids Eat FREE with 5 night stays, or between November and March, stay 5 nights and receive 1 extra night FREE!


Malolo. This is the way the world should be. T +679 672 0978 |

For reservations and information visit *Conditions apply. Approx rates only – check daily FOREX rates.


Take the high road BY Ian Lloyd Neubauer

New Caledonia’s main island, Grande Terre, is yearning to be explored – on two wheels (or four).



t’s the afternoon peak hour and I’m channelling my motorbike through two lanes of traffic flowing out of Nouméa, capital of the French semi-autonomous territory of New Caledonia. Suddenly I see a car ahead of me with the word ‘Gendarme’ stencilled on its side and make a feeble attempt to snake into a lane. But the rouse is uncalled for because the policeman behind the wheel moves over to give me clear passage. It’s a fitting anecdote for the easy-going French-speaking people of this South Sea utopia only threehours flight from Australia’s East Coast. The weather is balmy, the streets are spotlessly clean and the highways are as good as you’ll find anywhere in the world. The one I’m riding along now – the Voie Express No 2 – flows 400 kilometres along an inland route parallel to the west coast of the main island of Grande Terre. In French it means ‘Big Land’, and big it is. There’s a 1,600-metre-high mountain range running right through its centre that I’ll be crossing from west to east and then back again tomorrow. But my destination this evening is La Foa, a farming community 115 kilometres north of Nouméa where I check into a small motel for the night. My hosts – Jean and his son Christophe – don’t speak much English but it matters not; they’re warm and friendly people who welcome me with a hearty bowl of deer stew. Introduced in 1870, the deer population on Grande Terre has exploded to around 120,000 at the expense of native species whose

grasslands the deer destroy. Jean and Christophe are among hundreds of New Caledonians who make it their business to rid the island of them. In broken English, they explain they’re going out hunting with their dog Kitty and welcome me to join them. I politely turn their offer down and call it a night.

WEST TO EAST The next day I awake bright and early, say farewell to my hosts and zoom back out to Voie Express No 2. Five minutes later I come to an intersection that marks the second of five roads that connect the Grande Terre’s two coasts. I also see two men standing by a pair of formidable BMW motorbikes and pull over to say hello. “This road is the most beautiful in all of New Caledonia,” says the first rider, Jean. “At the start it goes through forest but at the very top of the range there’s a barren red landscape that looks like the moon. A little further down from there you’ll come to a great big lookout where you can see for kilometres over the ocean.” “Would you like to ride with us?” adds his partner Marc. That would be a “oui”. We spend the next hour climbing through thick spruce forests covering the western face of the range. It’s here where my motorbike, a Piaggio three-wheel scooter, shows its lack of breeding, and I find myself falling further and further behind my new French friends.


riches of the earth From left: Au P’tit Café; Bourail Opening image: Nickel mine above the West Coast

When they stop for a break at a summit, I suggest they ride ahead of me and we meet up again at the viewpoint Jean told me about. They voice concern over my ability to find it, but with the entire New Caledonian road system downloaded onto my smartphone, I convince them it won’t be a problem and promise to meet up with them shortly. After ten minutes riding along a heavily forested ridge I come to an unmarked left-hand turn. It ambles across a wetland plateau with long reedy grass and a colossal lake in its centre. I continue through a valley carpeted in wildflowers and then into a large bamboo forest where the road thins out into a gravely track. Within moments I realise I am inside a Kanak village – the Kanak being the indigenous minority of New Caledonia who now comprise only 40 per cent of the population. Unlike Nouméa with its wide, clean boulevards, the village is rundown and littered with broken cars. I see a concrete car park overgrown with weeds where a group of Rastafarians are enjoying an early morning tipple. I don’t feel threatened by them but neither do I feel welcome. So instead of asking for directions I dig out my phone and open Google Maps, which tells me I’ve missed an unmarked turnoff a few kilometres up the road. You’ve got to love technology.

EAST TO WEST After correcting my route I cross a few streams and reach the aforementioned viewpoint. The scenery is epic: I can see all the way to the coast and way across the Pacific Ocean where the barrier reef that surrounds Grande Terre ebbs and flows like a giant green snake. Jean and Mark are parked at the crest of a hill where they’ve laid out lunch. It’s no ordinary roadside snack but a gourmet picnic with crunchy baguettes, cold meats, cheeses, figs, olives, fruit, chocolate mousse for dessert and even a sneaky little glass of Bordeaux. With our stomachs full, we begin the dizzying ascent towards the coast. It’s here that I see the lunar-like landscape Jean told me about earlier – slopes layered with mining


terraces that have turned the earth rust red in colour. Grande Terre has a quarter of the world’s known reserves of nickel – an ore used in the manufacture of stainless steel. The dollars earned from its export are the reason New Caledonia is so wealthy compared to other Pacific Island nations. When the descent comes to an end we hit a long stretch of road that clings to the coast like cellophane. We pass another Kanak village and then hit RP6, the next inland road heading back to the west coast. In contrast to the high-altitude crossing we completed in the morning, this road follows a river’s edge at the bottom of a lush green valley carpeted with palm trees. The terrain makes for fast riding and I have no trouble keeping up with Jean and Marc, and I even ride ahead of them for a while. But when we cross a perfect little wooden bridge that crosses a perfect little stream, I know we’re about to go our separate ways because there’s no way I’m not stopping for a swim. They wish me well and ride into the sunset. After a splash in the water I lay down on the roadside and dry off in the sun while serenaded by the river and staring at the cloudless sky. From here it’s a quick 30 kilometres to the resort town of Bourail, where I’ve booked a room at a guesthouse. When I get there I can’t find it and spend half an hour riding up and down the main road to no avail. I try using my smartphone but it gives me no joy, directing me to a random spot on the sand where there’s no guesthouse to speak of. I have no choice but to park my scooter and knock on the door of a nearby house and ask for directions. No one answers, though I do hear a bit of a party going in the backyard. When I walk around the back, I’m approached by two men. The first one says something to me in French and when I ask if he speaks English, his friend replies in the affirmative – in an Australian accent. By sheer coincidence, he lives not far from my home in Sydney, and they invite me to join them for a drink. It turns into a round of drinks, a steak on the barbecue and a night worth remembering. And it never would’ve happened if my GPS hadn’t failed me. So next time you’re lost on the road, remember technology is good, but people are far better. Take the time to pull over and say hello. • Photography by Ian Lloyd Neubauer

travel facts Three more things to do in New Caledonia

Getting There Aircalin flies direct to Nouméa from Sydney six times weekly, and from Melbourne and Brisbane three times a week: 68-7/265-500;


Getting around Motorbike Rental Nouméa Rider rents a fleet of Harley Davidsons, BMWs and Ducatis: 68-7/766-526; Car Rental Europcar rents hatchbacks, sedans and vans: 68-7/284-800;

This smooth seaside city invokes the French Riviera. Take a walk along the coast at Anse Vata Bay, the main tourist hub. Take a dip at a city beach; the water is crystal clear. Then grab a gratin from one of the food vans on the promenade – a toasted baguette filled with stir-fry beef and french fries and covered with melted cheese.

2) THE GREAT LAGOON New Caledonia is surrounded by the largest marine lagoon on earth and the second largest coral reef after Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef. Bernard Andreani Snorkelling Treks offers half-day snorkelling tours to Signal Island Marine Park. 68-7/779-072;

3) SURF’S UP Bourail is New Caledonia’s premiere surf beach. You can catch small waves on La Roche Percee Beach. To ride waves with teeth, ask Manu Hernu of Nekweta Surf Camp to ferry you on his boat to the offshore reefs. 68-7/784-026;

When To Go New Caledonia enjoys a subtropical climate and has no monsoon so it can be visited all year around. The warmest months are November to March. Where To Stay • Le Meridien is Nouméa’s biggest and best: 68-7/265-000; • Hilton Nouméa La Promenade Residences has serviced apartments with ocean views: 68-7/244-600; Where To Eat • Au P’tit Cafe specialises in French-Kanak fusion. Avenue des frères Carcopino, Noumea: 68-7/282-189; • Chez Toto dishes up French provincial favourites. Latin Quarter, Noumea: 68-7/288-042 Further Information New Caledonia Tourism Promotion: 68-7/4-4-545;

New Caledonia, fly direct to our closest pacific neighbour Direct from Sydney in under 3 hours Direct from Brisbane in just over 2 hours Direct from Melbourne in under 4 hours


global markets Compiled by Flash Parker

Tuol Tom Poung Market,

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Paxton Gate, Portland, Oregon, USA

A relaxing Sunday Market this is not. If you’re the sort of traveller who lives to haggle, rub elbows with locals and get under the skin of a place, then the Tuol Tom Poung Market in Phnom Penh is for you. Loosely translated to Russian Market, this part of the city was once home to numerous Russian expats; for a time, many of the market’s goods were imported from Russia, and the name stuck. Today you can expect to find everything from cheap local handicrafts to expensive art, intricate textiles, weird local foodstuffs (bugs, fruits with unrecognisable names), counterfeit luxury goods and more. The deeper you venture the hotter it gets, and the more curious the collections become.

This North Mississippi Avenue curio shop is home to all manner of macabre and mesmerising artifacts – from truly bad taxidermy (buy a copy of the hardcover book and entertain all your friends) to mounted insects to regal busts to curiosities for kids that include knitted dissections (frogs, bats, rats, more) and educational chimera prints (the pelican seahorse is a longtime favourite). Paxton Gate is quintessentially Portland, and the most fun you can have dealing with life after death.


Island Fish Fry, Providenciales, Turks & Caicos

Providenciales hosts an Island Fish Fry on Thursday nights that serves to bring most of the island together; local food vendors, craft workers and artisans set up booths on either side of the large stage, where ripsaw artists (ripsaw artists use a craftsman’s handsaw to produce unlikely yet beautifully energetic music) like the Sea Breeze Rip Saw Band play signature Turks & Caicos jams. This is a fantastic place to sample local food and spirits, shop for handmade crafts and art, and meet local folk. Each fish fry ends with a raucous Junkanoo parade, a spirited, costumed affair that inspires a whole lot of audience participation. Henry the Conch, the island’s de facto mascot, is a frightening cross between a Pokémon character and something from the annals of H.P. Lovecraft’s twisted imagination. Of course, kids love Henry.

Aruba Aloe Museum, Hato, Aruba

Aruba’s arid climate has birthed an unusual assortment of hardy Caribbean flora, such as the iconic divi-divi tree (also found on Curaçao and Bonaire). The underrated Aruba Aloe Museum and Factory in Hato offers an interesting lesson on Aruba’s first cash crop and on how the island eventually transformed into a cosmetics power. Learn how to carve up your own plant and even give it a taste. The island’s southern coast is home to beautiful frangipani, coconut, papaya and almond trees; look closely and you may even spot a resident iguana hanging out.


The Haymarket, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA

The Historic Haymarket in Lincoln is really the story of when you show up – on any random day, this downtown hotspot’s excellent restaurants serve up the finest in Indian (The Oven), pub grub (Lazlo’s Brewery and Grill), and New American cuisine (The Flatwater). Come on a weekend, and you’ll be able to experience the state’s finest Farmers’ Market; fresh food, local crafts, local musicians, and more – while annual events that take over the Haymarket district include the Lincoln Contemporary Dance Project, the Great Plains Symposium, Native American Art shows, and more. The Haymarket is Lincoln’s most popular destination because there’s always something new going on – and you never know who you might meet.

Shakaland Cultural Village, Eshowe, South Africa

The Shakaland Zulu cultural village is an immersive educational experience that allows visitors the opportunity to glimpse life in a traditional African Zulu setting. The homestead, tucked away on a verdant space overlooking picturesque Phobane Lake, includes workshops, craft centres, buildings known as kraals, a large community hut where visitors can experience raucous Zulu dancing, visit with a sangoma (spiritual leader believed to have the ability to communicate with the ancestors) or an inyanga (traditional herbalist). Craftspeople sell traditional weapons (Zulu spears and assegai make fantastic gifts), jewellery, traditional beer, statues, hides and more.


Ben Thành Market, Ho Chi

Minh City, Vietnam

The Bến Thành Market is the biggest, busiest and liveliest market in what is one of the biggest, busiest and liveliest cities in the world. A major transportation hub (city buses, thousands of cars and millions of motorbikes honk-honk-honk their way through and around Bến Thành every day), the market has become over the years a symbol of Vietnamese prosperity, a local hangout, and a major tourist attraction. You’ll find everything here from textiles to handicrafts, fantastic down-home Vietnamese cuisine, high-quality textiles, traditional áo dài silk tunics and various items of unquestioned quality but questionable use – like large glass spheres in every shape and size imaginable. Don’t let the crowds dissuade you from visiting; a morning at the Bến Thành Market is an essential Vietnamese experience.

So Solomons, So Different! Explore the hidden paradise of the South Pacific archipelago, comprising of a vast group of 922 breathtaking tropical islands. Experience a culture, rich with traditional customs, art, dance and the panpipe music of ‘Are Are’. See the fierceness of the World War II battles on land and underwater. Explore Honiara’s cosmopolitan and colourful food market in downtown Honiara. Feel the spirit of adventure, enjoy a special piece of paradise or simply relax and discover a culture with a welcoming smile.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: PO Box 321, Mendana Avenue, Honiara, Solomon Islands call (677) 22442 or email




BY Kris Madden

Train travel is as much about the journey as the destination. Vacations & Travel blows the whistle on some of the world’s best rail journeys.


Luxury across Europe

A flying Scotsman

As you board the legendary Venice SimplonOrient-Express train at London’s Victoria station bound for Gare de l’Est in Paris, French chefs on board are preparing the Michelingrade menu to be served in one of the exquisite 1920s dining cars. Start with lobster and caviar bellinis by the baby grand piano in the bar car, before feasting on a four-course dinner served by white-gloved waiters. Slip blissfully between the crisp damask sheets in the vintage polished oak and mahoganypanelled cabin, amid the crystal glassware, silk lampshades and giant windows. Wake up, and after breakfast in bed, you’ll be in Venice.

Single malt whisky and valleys of heather are just some of the joys of the tartan-trimmed Royal Scotsman’s Western Journey from Edinburgh across the Scottish Highlands to the fishing town of Mallaig on Scotland’s northwest coast. This ‘mobile’ Scottish country bed and breakfast sleeps 36 in ensuite staterooms, with meals served in two dignified dining carriages. An armchair in the observation car or the open-air veranda provide a wonderful vantage point as you glide past castles, villages and glens. Between April and October, The Royal Scotsman covers several routes around the highlands on trips of two to seven nights.


royal blue Clockwise from below: Rocky Mountaineer; Royal Rajasthan on Wheels; The Royal Scotsman; Hiram Bingham South America Opening image: Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express

Rocky Mountain high

Castles, Causeways and the Craic The Belmond Grand Hibernian, the Celtic sister to Belmond Royal Scotsman and the first luxury touring train in Ireland, will commence service in August 2016. The interior of the train draws on Ireland’s unique character and mythology with colours inspired by the Irish countryside. Each carriage features colours of the tartans from the county after which they are named. Sleeper carriages accommodate just 40 passengers in elegant ensuite cabins. The first journey will be a four night tour travelling from Cork to Killarney, Galway and Westport; while a two-night tour journeys north from Dublin to Belfast and Portrush. –174–

Snow-clad mountains, glacier-fed lakes, wildlife and impeccable service are all part of the Rocky Mountaineer experience. The journey from Canada’s Vancouver to Calgary across the Rocky Mountains has three overnight hotel stops (included in the ticket) passing through the Kamloops region and up to the ski resorts of Lake Louise and Banff, before heading to Calgary, Alberta’s ‘cowboy town’. You travel during the day so you don’t miss any of the moving art gallery passing by your window. Go with the premium Gold Leaf Service which has a double-deck dome car and meals served in the posh dining car.

Footsteps of the Incas Named after the American explorer who discovered the remains of the 15th-century Inca Citadel Machu Picchu in 1911, Peru’s Hiram Bingham train is one of South America’s finest rail journeys. Hiram Bingham carries 84 passengers in 1920s Pullman-style carriages, with two luxurious dining cars, a kitchen car, a bar/ observatory car and live local on-board entertainment. The

journey of just over three hours from Cusco to Machu Picchu winds through some of the Andes’ most breathtaking scenery before arriving at the World Heritage-listed site. There’s time for a five-hour guided tour of the ancient relics before heading back to Cusco.

Heart of Persia The same company that runs the lavish Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express, Russia’s only fully ensuite train on the Trans-Siberian Railway, Golden Eagle Luxury Trains has launched a new tour into the heart of Iran his year, aimed at those who want to better understand probably one of the most misunderstood countries in the world. In addition to the capital Tehran, the tour takes in the exquisite domes of Mashad and Isfahan; the ruins of Persepolis and Necropolis; the 16th century garden of Kashan; and the cultural treasures of Shiraz, known as the city of poets, literature, nightingales and flowers. Golden Eagle Luxury Trains also offer a tour of some of Europe’s most magnificent cities including Prague, Budapest, Venice and Istanbul on a Grand Rail Tour aboard the Golden Eagle Danube Express. Featuring the signature touches of a

Golden Eagle rail cruise, these fascinating journeys now provide the ultimate in European rail experiences.

Chicago bound Pullman Rail Journeys was born in 2011, bringing comfortable, stylish and relaxing train travel to the American travel landscape. Renowned for its Art-Deco design, classic accommodations and exceptional service, Pullman Rail Journeys offers year round services between Chicago and New Orleans, and has introduced a first-class service between Chicago and Denver, with select departures through until December, 2015. On the Denver route guests will spend two nights in the Mile High City, ensuring time to experience the fast-growing city with world-class museums, a buzzing live music scene, and the beautiful great outdoors in Rocky

steaming to siberia Below: Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express

“Snow-clad mountains, glacier-fed lakes, wildlife and impeccable service are all part of the Rocky Mountaineer experience”


Mountain National Park. Pullman has also introduced a special journey from Chicago to Santa Fe and Albuquerque in October.

Slow trains in the Orient The South-East Asia of yesteryear has long been brought alive by the ultra-luxurious Eastern and Oriental Express travelling from Singapore through Malaysia to Thailand. New this year on the glamourous train is an extended variation of the classic route. The six-night ‘Fables of the Peninsula’ expedition will be limited to just 60 passengers and will allow more time to explore the many highlights along the way, such as Kuala Lumpur, the Cameron Highlands, Penang and the beaches of the Gulf of Thailand. Another new route this year is the two-night ‘Ancient Lanna Kingdom’ experience that links Bangkok to Chiang-Mai.

bathrooms, luxurious beds, comfortable sofas, in-built wardrobes and huge glass windows. Escape the heat and dust in the spa, or relax in one of the lavish bars or lounges.

Slowly, slowly through Spain From the lands of Castile and Leon, to the Bay of Biscay, Spain’s luxury train has been delighting its travellers for three decades. El Transcantábrico offers a number of itineraries, the most popular being Santiago de Compostela to Leon and Santiago de Compostela to San Sebastian, but shorter itineraries are also available. Boarding the Transcantábrico is like going back in time to the 1920s. Each compartment includes a private bathroom with hydro-sauna, turbo massage and steam bath. The train recommenced operation in early 2011 following upgrades and is today one of the most luxurious trains in the world.

Royalty on wheels The ‘Land of the Maharajahs’ is wonderful anytime, but Rajasthan is even better when surrounded by the regal grandeur of a bygone era. With its opulently embroidered ruby, sapphire, pearl and emerald Indian decor, gourmet cuisine and first-class service, the Royal Rajasthan on Wheels simply oozes old-world charm. A seven-day journey explores Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The deluxe and super deluxe cabins are all beautifully furnished with ensuite


style on track Clockwise from above: Amtrak’s Empire Builder train cuts through Glacier; Blue Train lounge car; Indian Pacific; Danube Express

harp strings Right: Danube Express

The Soul of Africa Everyone from kings and presidents to celebrities have ridden The Blue Train, the magnificent, moving five-star ‘hotel-onwheels’ which traverses South Africa’s vast breadth. On board the train you can indulge in the finest cuisine accompanied by some of South Africa’s finest wines. Around-the-clock personal butlers will see to your every need; be it in the comfort of your private suites, or in any one of the train’s exquisite lounges. The route between Pretoria and Cape Town is a 27-hour journey of 1600 kilometres, passing through awe-inspiring mountain ranges and arid deserts and across untamed savannah grasslands teeming with wildlife.

From Russia with love Russia’s Trans-Siberian Railway has been a sort of arduous rite of passage for dedicated train enthusiasts since 1901, but the amenities could only be described as basic. That is, until the lavish Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express, Russia’s only fully ensuite train, began the luxury service from Moscow to Vladivostok a few years ago. Imagine listening to Tchaikovsky play as you sip vodka in a velvety lounge and gaze through

panoramic windows at the vastness of Siberia. All cabins have showers, underfloor heating and panoramic windows. Of course, caviar, vodka and wines are standard fare in the classic Russian restaurant.

The Great Outback The vast Australian landscape is perfect for train travel. This year the Indian Pacific celebrates 45 years of Australia’s first transcontinental rail journey. For three nights and 4352 kilometres between Sydney and Perth, you’ll be treated to


Class-leading legroom Sightseer lounge

Private sleeper service


Making 500 destinations a far better ride.

Amtrak and Enjoy the journey are registered service marks of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation.


air-conditioned luxury and fine food and wine. Follow in the footsteps of explorers, traversing deserts, through lush mountain ranges and across the sprawling emptiness of the Nullarbor Plain. There are three levels of service, but opt for Platinum or Gold, which have private cabins with ensuites; and include offshore excursions as well as meals and drinks in the plush Queen Adelaide Restaurant.

Starlight, starbright Amtrak criss-crosses the USA and has some spectacular rail journeys that not only get you from A – B but do so in style, all while showcasing some of the best scenery in the country. One of the most scenic journeys with Amtrak is the Coast Starlight that operates daily between Los Angeles and Seattle. The train takes you past the dramatic snow-covered peaks of the Cascade Range and Mount Shasta, lush forests, fertile valleys ripe with fruit and long stretches of Pacific Ocean coastline. Another wonderful trip is on the Southwest Chief, which runs daily between Chicago and Los Angeles, through the vast expanse of the fabled American West, while the Empire Builder route from Chicago to Seattle takes you through the Pacific Northwest through majestic wilderness, following the footsteps of early pioneers. All of these trains feature a dining car and Superliner sleeping car, with the Sightsee Lounge Car ensuring a high level of comfort while you watch America pass by. •

to order From top: Pullman; El Transcantábrico


travel facts Further information • Amtrak: • The Blue Train: • Eastern & Oriental Express: • El Transcantábrico: • Golden Eagle Luxury Trains: • Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express: • The Grand Hibernian: • Hiram Bingham: • Indian Pacific: • Pullman: • Rail Plus: • Rail Europe: • Rocky Mountaineer: • Royal Rajasthan on Wheels: • The Royal Scotsman: • Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express:

El Transcantabrico: All the magic of Northern Spain awaits guests aboard two amazing itineraries. Spend 8 days/7 nights on either the route between Santiago de Compostela to León or the route from Santiago de Compostela to San Sebastian. Shorter itineraries are also available and range between two to five nights of luxury on board the train.

Great Train Journeys Of The WOrld

El TranscanTabrico & VEnicE siMPlon-oriEnT-EXPrEss Venice Simplon-Orient-Express offers a variety of journeys including the classic two day journey from London across Northern France to Paris and then on through majestic Swiss and Austrian Alpine lakes and mountains, before arriving in Venice. Throughout the season, Venice Simplon-Orient-Express travels to many of Europe’s greatest cities including Vienna, Budapest and the medieval splendour of Prague.

Contact our dedicated luxury consultants for further enquires: P: (03) 8779 - 4828 E: W:


culture club BY Kalpana Sunder

Mauritius is much more than luxury resorts sitting pretty on an idyllic beach. It’s a melting pot of culture and history that hasn’t gone the way of the Dodo.



es Trois Mamelles or the Three Breasts, Le Pouce which looks like an up turned thumb, and Pieter Both, a conical mountain topped by a boulder which legend goes, is a goatherd who was transformed into a rock for disturbing the fairies. As I drive past bougainvillea bushes in shades of violet, fuchsia and red, jagged volcanic mountains, groves of coconut palms interspersed with pineapple plantations, rustling fields of jade green sugarcane, under a cobalt sky with cotton candy clouds, my affable Creole guide Amar, keeps me entertained with local stories and legends. One of the first places in Port Louis that Amar shows me is Marie Reine de le Paix, an open church on the flank of the Signal Mountain, with seven terraces and 82 steps of hard rock leading to the statue of the Virgin Mary, holding a globe of the world. The lovely spot with benches and flower beds is where the first Mauritian bishop was consecrated. Nine hundred kilometres off the east coast of Madagascar, is the tropical fantasy island of Mauritius. Mauritius is a storybook of colonial influences, with the Dutch landing here in 1598, followed by the French who made it a French colony in 1715. They turned it into a busy port importing slaves from African countries and making it a haven for corsairs who plundered foreign ships. In 1835 the British abolished slavery but brought in indentured labourers from India to work on measly salaries on their plantations. Most tourists head here for the sun and sand, but for me it’s the bio-diversity and melting-pot culture that’s the real attraction and I am determined to delve deeper. My home away from home is the luxurious Beachcomber property Paradis Hotel and Golf Club, which is a sequestered world of piňa coladas and palms and makes it hard to tear myself away from the lounger-and-cocktails-on the-beach life. Located in the rustic south-west coast, where there are seven kilometres of white beaches, and washed by the aquamarine waters of a vast lagoon, it lies in the shadow of a vast haunting clump of basalt, called Le Morne. Long ago it is said that runaway slaves called marrons, hid in the Morne Mountain. When slavery was abolished, guards were sent up to give them the good tidings, but the slaves thought that they were there to take them back and jumped to their death from the high mountain. This majestic monolith was added to the World Heritage list in 2008. Walking through Port Louis, the crowded capital of Mauritius with its towering glass office towers standing cheek by jowl with old buildings with exquisite wrought iron balconies and latticework, and streets packed with dholl puri stalls (the unofficial national dish), can be a little overwhelming. To get a slice of local life I walk through the noisy Central Market on Farquhar Street with its Victorian arcades and high-beamed roofs, which is a hive of activity, redolent with the smell of chilies and over-ripe pineapples and the lilting tones of FrenchCreole in the air. It’s a good place to soak up the hustle and bustle of the islanders, trawling through stalls selling woven baskets and table mats in rainbow colours, dried sea food, fragrant vanilla pods, blocks of tofu, long purple eggplants, fiery spices as well as herbs for every ailment under the sun. An interesting counterpoint is Le Caudan Waterfront, a slick and trendy shopping centre which even has a casino, disconnected from the rest of downtown, where I idle on the waterfront, looking at fashionable denizens with shopping bags in hand.


colour chart Clockwise from right: A rainbow under your feet at Chamarel; Yellow doors and shabby buildings in old town Port Louis, the capital city; Colourful craft abounds at the central Market in Port Louis Opening image: Mauritius delivers a riot of colour

Fort Adelaide also called the Citadel was built by the British over ten years, to counter a probable invasion by the French. Today it’s a vantage point for views of the Moka Mountains, and the high rise buildings of the capital city juxtaposed against shabby buildings in Old Town. Pointing to the large Champs del la Mare racecourse (the oldest horse racing track in the Southern Hemisphere), Amar says with a smile, “Horse racing is the national obsession”. The Company Gardens in the centre of town is a cool oasis where locals sit on benches, gossip and gorge on chicken tikka sandwiches under the shadow of statues of labour leaders and vast banyan trees. Post sunset, however it has a sleazy reputation. I make a poignant pilgrimage to the stark Aapravasi Ghat, now in the throes of renovation. The simple building of rough stone was the immigration depot where the first indentured labourers from India arrived in coolie ships. They climbed the steps of the wharf to reach the depot where they stayed for three days before being sent to the sugar fields. It’s a UNESCO site today and a symbol of the historical connection between India and Mauritius – more than 70 per cent of Mauritians today are of Indian origin. It was the dodo ... always the dodo ... that came to my mind whenever I thought of Mauritius, gleaned from my geography lessons in school. That flightless bird that was unable to

“In the village of Chamarel, I walk past surreal striped hillocks of seven-coloured soil of volcanic origin called Terres de 7 Couleurs” escape the predators that came with the first settlers, the Portuguese, and became a symbol of extinction. Today the dodo is a national icon of the island of Mauritius, found on its coat of arms and immigration stamp, on countless wooden and stone souvenirs, and on T-shirts and sarongs. I see the real deal – two reconstructed skeletons and a plaster model by the door of the National History Museum. In my attempt to find the real soul of the island, we drive through winding roads to Maison Eureka, a typical Creole house in the south west of the island, which looks straight out of Gone with the Wind. It was occupied by the Le Clezio family dynasty for 129 years, dating back to 1860 with 109 doors, turrets and a wrap around balcony. Set stunningly beneath the Moka mountain range, it’s been converted into a museum with each room following a theme. We admire the regal Chinese room with an intricately carved sequoia wood daybed and chairs made from cinnamon wood and an exquisite dinner gong. The dining room is set in readiness with Limoges crockery and 18 chairs with ornate chandeliers from Seychelles. The re-created bathroom is a blast from the past: a copper water heater and regal ebony ‘potty’. The house has an old-fashioned kitchen with wood fire, still in operation and serves delicious Creole food. To explore the island’s volcanic past one has to drive to the Central highlands and the village of Curepipe. Legend has it that when there was an outbreak of malaria in 1867, many people fled low-lying Port Louis for higher ground; it was in this town that they paused to smoke their pipes, hence the name. At Trou aux Cerfs I walk on the rim of an extinct volcano ringed by pine trees and carpeted by woodland, where water and silt clogged with green moss form an exquisite crater lake.

We drive through the dramatic Black River Gorges National Park, which protects much of the remaining virgin forests of Mauritius and has some spectacular scenery. With Bois de Natte trees draped with orchids and ferns, casuarinas and coniferous trees, and giant fruit bats sweeping overhead, this is a great chance to spot rare local birds like kestrel, pink pigeon and echo parakeet. Ever had a rainbow below your feet? In the village of Chamarel, I walk past surreal striped hillocks of seven-coloured soil of volcanic origin called Terres de 7 Couleurs, that reminds me of a Martian landscape. Each dune straight out of a child’s sandpit, flaunts a gorgeous hue ranging from deep purple to a tinge of russet like a mad artist’s palette gone awry. “This spectrum of colours was due to the molten volcanic soil cooling down at different temperatures,” explains Amar. I am fascinated to hear that the colours of the sand have never dulled – and have not been affected by the island’s torrential rains. The spiritual heart of the island is at Grand Bassin, where a gargantuan bronze statue of the Hindu God Lord Shiva, with a trident in his hand, towers over a natural crater lake. This is considered by many Hindu devotees to be an extension of the sacred Ganges River in India. The smell of flowers and incense in the air, women in festive saris with vermilion streaked hair, this is cultural fusion at its best. Come evening, I sip on a rum cocktail and am hypnotised by an erotically charged Sega performance with dusky beauties in flounced skirts, gyrating seductively to the peppy music and drumbeats in the lobby of my hotel. Sega is the traditional island dance that came with the 18th-century African sugar field workers who used it as an outlet to express their homesickness. Its throbbing beat is clearly African with tambourines called ravannes, accompanied –183–

mountain to sea From left: A historic Creole home Maison Eureka, now a museum, stands under the Moka Mountain; Lord Hanuman, a Hindu super god stands sentinel over Grand Bassin - a crater lake

by ringing triangles and rattling shakers. Dancers tease one another by coming close without touching and many of the themes are about love, hardship and suffering. Sugarcane is closely linked to the history of the island punctuated with sadness. To work this abundant crop, slaves were imported from French possessions in West Africa, Mozambique and Madagascar. I understand that even today 85% of the island is under sugarcane cultivation. What better setting could tell the story of sugar than an actual sugar factory redolent with old memories? L’Aventure du Sucre is an interactive museum of sugar housed in the old Beau Plan Sugar Mill in Pamplemousses. The museum tracks the history of sugar, its route through the world to its scarcity during WWI, and the resulting Sugar Wars. From short films, to historical collections of artifacts, documents, as well as modelled ships and old machinery immaculately preserved, it explores the triumphs and failures of the industry. I am lost in a vision of a typical coolie’s day, which was run like clockwork from sun-up to sundown. Beau Plan’s chimney is a little worn, but still stands tall. The chimneys in colonial plantations were akin to banyan tree in an any little village; the chimneys were where the coolies would assemble when not working. That night a gentle zephyr rustles the palms and the sound of distant drums and Creole music hangs heavy in the air. It’s one of those moments when everything seems right with the world…and that classic clichéd Mark Twain quote flashes in my mind.... “Mauritius was made first and then heaven; and heaven was copied after Mauritius.” I have a simple Creole meal of rice, pumpkin curry and a tangy ‘millionaire’s salad’ made from palm hearts, on a beach restaurant at the hotel as the Indian Ocean gently laps my feet. Sabine working with guest relations tells me how as a student she had an Indian friend who invited her to celebrate an Indian festival Ganesh Chaturthi with her – she still recalls the great festivities and the special food. She says in a matter-of-fact tone, “We Mauritians love to celebrate together like one family… it does not matter if you are Christian, Muslim or Hindu.” It’s a message that resonates in me long after I return home. • Photography by Kalpana Sunder –184–

travel facts Getting there Air Mauritius has three flights a week from Perth to Mauritius, codesharing with Virgin.; Where to stay • Maritim Hotels have two properties in Mauritius including the five-star Maritim Resort & Spa at Turtle Bay and the four-star Maritim Crystals Beach Hotel at Belle Mare.; • Beachcomber has eight luxury properties spread across the island. Stay at the plush Paradis Hotel and Golf Club near the Morne Mountain or the luxurious Royal Palm in Grand Baie. What to do Visit Port Louis for its markets and museums, Pamplemousses Botanical Garden, Ile Aux Cerfs for water activities, Casela Nature Park, L’Aventure du Sucre (a sugar museum), Maison Eureka and Rhumerie de Chamarel for rum tasting. Eat/Drink Local specialties like Dholl puri, Rougaille – a tomato chutney, vegetable Fricassee and braised pumpkin as well as desserts like caramelised rum bananas and sweet potato pudding. Try Rum arrange – rum infused with different fruits and spices and Alouda – a drink with milk, jelly,chopped agar-agar and crunchy seeds. Buy Woven baskets, coconut shell artifacts, flavoured rum, wooden models of ships, fresh vanilla pods and different varieties of sugar. Further information Mauritius Tourism:

Your Passport to Paradise...

Immerse yourself in this luxurious 5-star beach and spa resort, gently nestled within a picturesque private estate along the protected marine park of Turtle Bay and offering an exclusive array of experiences.

Escape to the picturesque East coast of Mauritius, in this contemporary 4-star hotel with an architecture and interior design inspired by the sugarcane, stretching along one of the best beaches of the island. Maritim Hotels Mauritius •


hot list BY Andrea Schulte-Peevers

Europe is top of the wishlist for many Australians for 2015 and beyond. Here are ten hot spots to throw into the mix.


ities are a reflection of the soul of a country and, for visitors, hold an irresistible promise of connecting with the best of its history, architecture, cuisine and contemporary culture. We’ve hopscotched around Europe to shine the spotlight on ten cities that beautifully capture the zeitgeist and captivate us with their vibrant and versatile spirit. Our list includes some time-tested favourites along with edgy newcomers that have been catapulted to the big leagues thanks to vision, investment and innovation.

Berlin A quarter century after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the German capital is increasingly grown-up without relinquishing its indie spirit and penchant for creative improvisation. Berlin spoils you with classic and quirky choices. There’s haute cuisine in an ex-


brewery, all-night parties in bombed-out buildings and world-class art in a WWII bunker. Visit the sites of major milestones in history – the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie among them – then spend time in some of the city’s 175 museums. Top picks include the Pergamon Museum, home to monumental antiquities such as the Babylonian Ishtar Gate, and the adjacent Neues Museum whose star is the eternally beautiful – if 3500-year-old – bust of Egyptian queen Nefertiti. Follow up with a spin around the charismatic Hackescher Markt area, Berlin’s historic Jewish quarter, which teems with hip cafés, indie boutiques and restaurants serving everything from Berlin classics like Eisbein (boiled pork hock) to Michelin-starred fare. After dark, go bar-hopping around here or head to Kreuzberg, the city’s alternative nightlife hub.


Copenhagen The Danish capital repeatedly ranks among the world’s most liveable cities, and for good reason. Compact and charismatic, Copenhagen comes with ample water and green spaces, an extensive network of bike paths and a respect for both tradition and innovation. New Nordic cuisine pioneers like René Redzepi of Noma reinterpret the goodness of native cooking, while the Denmark Design Museum and edgy galleries in the former meatpacking district show off a crisp, contemporary aesthetic. Food and design form a happy union at Torvehallerne, a pair of revitalised gourmet market halls that opened in 2011. Tradition, meanwhile, reigns at twinkling Tivoli, an amusement park from 1843 with plenty of rides and entertainment venues, while Copenhagen’s most photographed woman is still the adorable Little Mermaid that’s best seen on a boat tour. For a dose of alternative spirit, point the compass to Freetown Christiania, a hippie commune and self-proclaimed ‘autonomous neighbourhood’.

Milan Venice may be more romantic and Rome more historic, but this year Milan is hogging the headlines as host of World Expo 2015. Italy’s most cosmopolitan city – and its fashion and financial hub – wraps a lot of attractions into a compact package poised to tantalize visitors long after the last pavilions close in October. Check off such blockbuster sights as


Leonardo da Vinci’s ephemeral Last Supper, the floridly Gothic Duomo (cathedral) and the incomparable La Scala opera house. Then tap into neighbourhoods that have undergone major facelifts in the run-up to Expo such as La Darsena, the city’s former harbour turned into a pleasant strolling zone. Industrial-flavoured Zona Tortona, meanwhile, is now home to a growing number of vintage and design shops, aperitivo bars and galleries, while the canal-laced Navigli district beckons with boho-chic cafés, bars and restaurants after dark.

Málaga Founded by the Phoenicians and conquered by the Romans, the Visigoths and the Moors, Málaga today is primarily known as a sun-kissed summer holiday sanctuary. But more than 10 years of major investments have also given the vibrant Spanish town on the Med significant cultural street cred. What began in 2003 with the opening of the Museo Picasso Málaga, culminates this year with two more high-profile art ventures. In a cube-shaped glass building in the renovated port, a satellite of the Parisbased Centre Pompidou now showcases works by such 20th-century heavyweights as Frida Kahlo, Francis Bacon, Magritte and Málaga’s native son Picasso. The other addition is a branch of St Peterburg’s State Russian Museum, which displays five centuries of Russian masterpieces in a creatively repurposed 1920s tobacco factory. Fans of urban street art, meanwhile, should head to the Soho area where top artists like Shepard Fairey, Faith47 and ROA have left their mark.

sight seeing Clockwise from left: Copenhagen Nyhavn; Roemer square, Frankfurt; Szimpla Kert pub, Budapest; View of Barcelona; Holocaust Memorial, Berlin Opening image: Central nave in Sagrada Família, Barcelona

experiences you don’t want to miss: cappuccino at the New York Café, a traditional 19th-century coffeehouse dripping in regal opulence; relaxing at one of Budapest’s famous historic baths, such as the Art Nouveau Gellért Spa with its central, pillar-lined pool; and drinks at a ‘ruin pub’ – charmingly chaotic watering holes set in derelict buildings and decorated with mismatched furniture and urban art. Szimpla Kert was the first such bar but there are now plenty of others, many in the old Jewish quarter.

Hamburg It’ll be a couple more years until the first sounds ring through the Elbphilharmonie, but Hamburg’s new concert hall is already cutting a spectacular presence as the gateway to the HafenCity, a former docklands area-turned fashionable waterfront district. Drop by the Kesselhaus InfoCenter for the low-down on this futuristic project then, for contrast, hop on a barge and explore the historic Speicherstadt, a clutch of redbrick storage houses that form the world’s largest continuous warehouse complex. Another way to travel back in time is on the fascinating Beatles Tour that takes fans to venues where the Fab Four cut their teeth back in the 1960s. Most of them are in St Pauli, the spruced-up historic red-light district whose clubs, bars and theatres are popular with people from all walks of life. North of St Pauli, the Schanzenviertel and Karolinenviertel quarters draw an artsy, boho-trendy crowd and teem with cool bars, boutiques and eateries.

Budapest Your camera will have a love affair with Budapest, one of Europe’s most visually mesmerising cities. Just take the rickety funicular up Castle Hill in the late afternoon and watch the sun tint the mosaic of wide boulevards and twisting alleys, turreted churches and stately buildings, all set against the backdrop of the Danube. It’s easy to spend days in the Hungarian capital but there are three quintessential Budapest

Barcelona Barcelona’s stunning landmark Sagrada Família is a reflection of everything that’s so special about this Catalán city. In the making since 1882, Gaudí’s Modernista masterpiece is ambitious, playful and original, a steadily evolving symphony of style and grandeur that embraces the new while cherishing the old. Barcelona’s infectious spirit courses through its grand boulevards as much as its medieval lanes and avant-garde art and café-lined beach promenade. Soak it up while perusing the culinary bounty of century-old Mercat de la Boqueria market hall or go cool-hunting for fashions in the hip indie boutiques in the alleyways of the Passeig del Born area. Feast your eyes on art by Picasso, Miró and Gaudí, then seek cerebral relief by watching the world on parade on the La Rambla promenade or by escaping the bustle in Gaudí’s bewitching Parc Güell. Barcelona will surely cast a spell on you.

Frankfurt Germany’s financial capital may first appear all buttoned-up, but behind the corporate demeanour lurks a city brimming with cultural, culinary and shopping diversions. Head to the south bank of the Main River for stellar views of the high-rise skyline and to pick your favourite among the dozen museums lined up along Museumsufer (museum embankment). The most famous is the 200-year-old Städel Museum, a showcase of 700 years’ worth of European art. From here, it’s a quick stroll to the charming Sachsenhausen district, home to quirky


pigeon pair Above: Krakow, Rynek Glowny square

boutiques, galleries, trendy bars and traditional taverns serving local Ebbelwoi (alcoholic apple cider) and such specialties as boiled beef with Grüne Sosse, a green sauce made from herbs. For an up-to-the-minute gastro experience, head to the gentrifying red-light district around the main train station, where venues like Maxie Eisen, a sleek New York-style deli by day (speciality: pastrami) and a speakeasy-style bar by night, are harbingers of a bright future.

a cultural hub. This year alone Manchester marks the opening of a £15 million (A$29 million) expansion of the Whitworth, a university-run art gallery whose encyclopaedic collection includes major works by Cézanne, Francis Bacon and William Turner. Also new this year is HOME, an edgy entertainment venue teeming with cinemas, a theatre, galleries and other facilities. And only last autumn, the restored former home of the Victorian-era novelist Elisabeth Gaskell opened to the public. Fans of history and architecture, meanwhile, will want to make a beeline to the spectacular Daniel Libeskind-designed Imperial War Museum North. Manchester’s lower-brow culture is thriving as well. The city supports two top European soccer teams, Manchester United and Manchester City, and also has a burgeoning live music scene fuelled by the legacy of such bands as The Smiths, Stone Roses and Oasis. •

Krakow Legend has it that Krakow was founded upon the defeat of a dragon and it is still a mythical kind of place today. Its gorgeously restored old town – centred on Rynek Glówny, Europe’s largest market square – is lorded over by Wawel Hill with its 16th-century palace and a cathedral where Polish royalty was crowned for four centuries. Today’s Krakow is a vibrant, forward-looking city with lively nightlife, a thriving culinary scene and such new attractions as the cutting-edge Museum of Modern Art. The latter abuts the former factory of Oscar Schindler, now home to an engaging exhibit about Krakow under Nazi Occupation. It’s a poignant reminder of the city’s proximity to Auschwitz, the Nazi-run death camp where 1.3 million people, most of them Jews, perished. These days, the camp is the biggest tourist attraction in Poland’s secondlargest city, a sombre paean to a painful past.

Manchester England’s ‘second city’ is a fine example of how an urban area can emerge from a post-industrialist daze and reinvent itself as


travel facts Further information • Berlin, Hamburg and Frankfurt: German National Tourist Office; • Copenhagen: Visit Denmark; • Milan: Italian State Tourist Board; • Barcelona and Málaga: Spanish National Tourist Office; • Krakow: Polish National Tourist Office; • Manchester: Visit Britain; • Budapest: Czech Tourism;

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Michel Roux’s

london BY Jennifer Campbell

No traveller to London needs a more tempting reason to visit beyond the possibility of relishing gourmand dishes prepared by the city’s tastemakers. Internationally-acclaimed chef, Michel Roux Jr tells Vacations & Travel why London’s dining scene continues to mesmerise visitors.



from paddock to plate Right from top: Michel Roux Jnr on the lookout for the best seasonal produce in London; The Manor Opening image: HIX Mayfair’s very British bill of fare: whole roasted duck with flamed Kentish cherries


t’s no secret that Chef Michel Roux Jr is passionate about London. The dazzling museums, vibrant art galleries and mellow parks that play the Four Seasons in a kaleidoscope of hues. The architectural legacies steeped in turbulent English history – Westminster Abbey, St James’s Palace, Tower of London and Buckingham Palace. The fearless street fashion and high-end boutiques that roost in the midst of the world’s most exalted addresses. And the West End theatre life, Piccadilly bookstores and lively antique markets that spring into life along Portobello Road. Then there is the city’s vigorous gastronomic scene which Roux adores, where its rhythms and quirks have not only sparked a culinary renaissance in the lofty neighbourhoods of Mayfair, Marylebone, Belgravia and Notting Hill but have transformed many of the local terroirs of southwest London into the hottest dining venues in the world. Trends come and go but London’s culinary scene is firmly entrenched. Ask any visitor to describe London’s idiosyncratic vibe and without missing a beat, they’ll tell you that it starts at the table; whether it’s over a silver-tray brimming with wafer-thin cucumber sandwiches and freshly-baked scones with clotted cream, a plate of Jersey mussels at a local gastrobar or sitting ringside in the lion’s den at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck, Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester and Le Gavroche, which first opened in 1967 by Roux’s French-born father and uncle, Albert and Michel. Yet London has always been a global creature, sparked by a melting pot of different cultures and piquant tastes. Go anywhere where there’s an absence of velvet-knotted ropes and sparkling silverware, and you will be ushered into neighbourhoods where chalkboard menus of shepherd’s pie and ploughman’s lunch have been replaced by myriad dishes inspired by three continents. But as Roux attests, modern British cuisine is all about sustainable, organic and low-impact menus, no matter the ethnic persuasion. In fact, the contemporary excitement towards the humble root, cheesemongers and artisanal products has ignited pure wizardry by London’s culinary masters. And nowhere is this more evident than in Roux’s own kitchens at Roux at Parliament Square, Roux at the Landau and Le Gavroche, where he relishes creating his own interpretation of seasonal fare fresh from the farm. “I love the farm-to-table movement which is well-developed in London,” says Roux who as a boy, searched for wild strawberries in hedgerows, collected chestnuts in the woods and helped his father rear rabbits, pigeons and chicken for the table. “The best food starts with the best ingredients, and I love to eat and serve food when it’s in season. In London, you can get whatever you want but I love to use British seasonal foods.” –194–

Though his penchant for local produce and delectable French sauces were perfected across the English Channel while working as a commis de cuisine at Alain Chapel’s signature restaurant at Mionay near Lyon and while serving in the military at Elysée Palace during the presidencies of Giscard d’Estaing and François Mitterrand, Roux has returned to his English roots not far from where he grew up in the bucolic countryside of Kent. It is in this enchanting corner of England, with its work-horse villages, fruit-scented orchards, summer gardens and fields of golden harvests where he remains patron of the Kent Farmers’ Market and still buys some of his produce. In fact says Roux, the farmers’ markets including those in London are utterly exhilarating. “I enjoy the excitement you feel when the first asparagus comes through in spring and the purple-streaked artichokes give way to wild mushrooms, garlic and leek in autumn,” he reveals.

market fare Left and below: The only game in town - wild game from Britain’s bucolic farmlands; HIX Mayfair’s succulent dish of Dorset snails with wild boar bacon and black pudding

“chalkboard menus of shepherd’s pie and ploughman’s lunch have been replaced by myriad dishes inspired by three continents” Not surprisingly, the epicurean chef can be found pounding the pavement at Borough Market near London Bridge where its gastronomic food tours, cooking demonstrations and succulently-sweet cherries as Roux will tell you, adds another layer of enjoyment to the British capital’s culinary verve. “In our restaurants, our menus change very regularly to reflect the changing seasonal produce, so there is lots of game in the autumn and fabulous fresh fruits and vegetables in the spring and summer,” says Roux, who as former host of the Great British Food Revival has also been at the forefront of London’s agricultural revolution. “This is why Borough Market is always great because it has so much variety. You can go there and be inspired and it has the best of British produce, too.” By no means is the pace of the city’s organic rebellion slowing down west of Green Park where the trend to mix lightness with inventiveness is looming everywhere. On one end of the scale, Petrus in Knightsbridge is serving anjou pigeon with smoked onion purée while HIX Mayfair has a menu that features an impeccable mix of British produce;

chargrilled paddock farm pork chops with hispi cabbage and garlic shoots and roast loin of Kingairloch red deer with alliums and hazelnuts. But at Koffmann’s, the legendary French chef, Pierre Koffmann has discarded his three-Michelin star bill-offare in favour of rustic seasonal dishes inspired from his family’s kitchen in rural Gascony in south-western France. Of course London is a place where a proliferation of flavours and indulgent concoctions are a notable part of the gourmand experience. “We’ll even pop some produce from my father’s land on the table as a little extra special treat for our guests, when it comes in,” injects Roux whose multisensory dishes come from all points of the compass. But as any London chef will tell you, the British capital is a juxtaposition of many personalities and tastes. In Roux’s neighbourhood of Clapham in southwest London, there has been a resurgence of reasonably priced cutting-edge restaurants, tapas bars and bistros. Just follow the exquisite aromas that fill the air off Clapham Common and you will soon step into the cosy enclaves of Trinity, The Manor, Boqueria and The Dairy – also Roux’s favourite haunt. In fact, London’s neighbourhood restaurant scene is a journey of possibilities, where off-the-grid places sizzle with a blend of cultural zeitgeist. “I think it would be wonderful if every local restaurant was like The Dairy,” says Roux who is equally excited with the new shift in London’s diverse restaurant scene. “It’s affordable, run by a husband and wife team and has a real homely feel.” Like the modernist fare at The Manor and the delectable dishes they once served at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, chefs Robin and Sarah Gill have dispelled all notions of simple British comfort food with The Dairy’s sartorial garden-to-the-sea taste sensations. But leave it to the Gallic chefs to reinterpret British cuisine with straight-from-the-net seafood, organic meats and a repertoire of signature dishes. –195–

bite size Clockwise from left: Legendary two-Michelin star Le Gavroche where Michel Roux Jnr’s signature Souffle Suissesse is a London favourite; Rustic fare at The Dairy - one of London’s great neighbourhood eateries and the three-Michelin star Restaurant; Best end of Cornish lamb with confit breast and braised shank, navarin of summer vegetables and vitelotte potatoes at Gordon Ramsay Restaurant

“At Le Gavroche we have stayed very true to our origins and roots. We are French and we are classical in taste, and people flock to this restaurant because of that,” says Roux who not only took over the reins from Albert and Michel Snr in 1991 but has since left his own imprint on the two-Michelin star name which was inspired by a painting of a French gavroche – an urchin that his uncle found in Montmartre. Though their iconic dishes have been adapted to reflect London’s modern tastes, which Roux says, “have become lighter and more contemporary over the years,” people still flock to sample his signature Souffle Suissesse and succulent Filet de Boeuf Grillé. Many restaurants prove the adage that a great dining experience starts with the food and the buzz that surrounds the seasonally-inspired menu. But there are few places in the British capital where the spirit of each dish is not found in the kitchen but with ‘the soul of the restaurateur’. Indeed, some things never change at Le Gavroche. “At lunch and throughout the evening I make sure that I speak to every table in the restaurant,” says Roux of his speakeasy style. ”It is one of the joys of my job as you meet so many interesting people with the most intriguing stories.” Bon appétit, London. • Photography by various establishments

travel facts GETTING THERE Malaysia Airlines flies 81 direct, award-winning services from all state capital cities (excluding Canberra) to Kuala Lumpur and London with connecting European services via its oneworld partner, British Airways, or with code-share partner, Air France/KLM to Glasgow via Amsterdam or Paris. Malaysia Airlines also flies direct services from Auckland to Kuala Lumpur, with connecting services to the United Kingdom. • Malaysia Airlines: 132-627; WHEN TO GO All year-round though in the winter months, the days are shorter and the weather is cold. WHERE TO STAY • Brown’s Hotel, London: • The Goring: • The Langham London: WHERE TO DINE Le Gavroche:; FURTHER INFORMATION Visit Britain: Shamrock Travel:



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On hallowed ground BY Will Davies

A century ago Australian soldiers were at war on the other side of the world, in places with unpronounceable names and enduring the unthinkable. Gallipoli has had its centenary, and in July 2016, we will commemorate the centenary of the battles at Fromelles and Pozières. A visit to these sacred grounds will live in your memory forever.



crosses to bear From below left to right: The gates of AIF Grass Lane Cemetery near Flers and Gueudecourt; The emotive Cobber’s Memorial at Fromelles; An old frontline trench, Sanctuary Wood near Ypres Opening image: Commemorative crosses to a British soldier near Gueudecourt


hen I walked through the brass gates of AIF Grass Lane Cemetery, clasping my bag of dried gum leaves and a box of matches, the air was still and silent. Behind me, a line of battlefield visitors, my tour group keen to finish their 10-day Western Front tour with my little personal remembrance service, something I simply call “a leaf burning”. AIF Grass Lane near Gueudecourt, France is one of 2,400 Commonwealth War Graves cemeteries across northern France and southern Belgium. In this particular part of the Somme, not far from the battlefields of Pozières, Bullecourt, Flers and Bapaume are many cemeteries where sadly, Australia is well represented. Beautifully maintained, they dominate the landscape in this area along the Somme and everywhere reminds us of the sacrifice and the deep sadness that still lingers in Australian families today. I first came to this area in 1994. I had watched the moving telecast of the reinterment of the Unknown Soldier in the Hall of Remembrance at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and feeling deeply affected, decided I must visit the battlefields. During a working stopover in London, I took the Friday night Calais ferry and at 8am the following morning was at the door of Avis. Armed with a guidebook to Australian areas of operation in France and Belgium and a couple of yellow Michelin maps, I raced around a number of battlefields hoping to understand and learn something over that short weekend. Sadly this was not the case. All I saw were benign verdant fields of wheat and sugar beet, nothing to suggest a battlefield nor translate the stark black and white images of shattered landscapes, up-turned waggons and dead horses. I instantly realised two things; first, I needed to read and understand this complex history and second, I needed someone to show me


where this terrible war actually played out. Little did I realise that I would become a ‘someone’; a Great War historian, writer and battlefield guide myself in the years to come. In 1998 I wrote a booklet and recorded a ‘radio play’ telling the story of the Battle of Hamel in July 1918 for the Department of Veterans Affairs. However, my big break into publishing came when a friend lent me a manuscript written in the late 1920s by his grandfather, Private Edward Lynch, a returned soldier. This heavy leather bound tome with Somme Mud etched in gold on the spine was the beginning of a new foray into the history of the Great War, first in editing and getting Somme Mud published, and then following this up with other books including In the Footsteps of Private Lynch, Beneath Hill 60 and The Boy Colonel, all through Random House. This took me to another level of understanding and respect, but also took me into the lives of three families whose soldier forebears I had written about and researched. It also took me back to the killing grounds of France and Belgium, often alone with my research, but now more regularly as a battlefield historian and guide. I do two trips annually, visiting the major battlefields like Pozières and Mouquet Farm, Bullecourt and the outpost villages, Villers-Bretonneux, Le Hamel and the villages along the Somme, Messines, Ypres, the Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Zonnebeke and the villages on the road to Passchendaele. On this emotional journey we visit the massive Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest British military cemetery in the world with 12,000 graves, a large proportion unknown. As if to emphasise the brutality of the battle, the remains of three German blockhouses, captured by the Australians on 4 October, 1917; the centre one bearing the Cross of Sacrifice. Just south of Armentieres is the battlefield of Fromelles where 5,500 Australian casualties were inflicted in one night. Here the Cobbers Memorial reminds us of those fateful words spoken by a wounded digger to his rescuer mate; “Don’t forget me cobber”. One great surprise with visitors to the Australian sectors is the small area of Australian responsibility at any one time in which all this fighting took place. In fact, while the frontline

stretched from the Swiss border in the south, 720km to the North Sea coast, the British were responsible for about 80km (50 miles) while the French army defended the rest. While most of the worst fighting was in the top 150 kilometres, within this the Australians held very small sectors, in some places just a kilometre or two, in other places just a few hundred metres. Gallipoli is even smaller. The Anzac sector is about 161 hectares and can be visited relatively easily in one day. Helles at the tip of the peninsula is also a must, as is the northern Suvla Bay area, so ideally you need three days on the peninsula. Tours run from Istanbul (it’s a four to five hour drive), Çanakkale and Eceabat are the closest towns to Anzac Cove. Çanakkale has the most accommodation but that requires a ferry trip across the Dardanelles. Yet Gallipoli is full of those mythical places, names we know so well: Anzac Cove, Shrapnel Gully, Lone Pine, Quinn’s Post and the Nek, that narrow strip of land as Charles Bean says, the ‘width of two tennis courts’, where the Light Horse were slaughtered in their futile charge in August 1915 and made famous in Peter Weir’s film Gallipoli. Across this desperate landscape are small cemeteries in green manicured lawns, a subtle Christian cross etched into the Memorial. Here too are the famous words of Kemal Ataturk; “You the Mothers who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well”. So, the ideal way to see and understand the battlefields is on a tour with a guide or historian, ideally an Australian if they are available. In France, take the train from Paris to Amiens (about 120km) where the guide can meet you at the station and use their own car or minibus for transport. Others start at Arras, a 50-minute train ride from Paris. Alternatively, hire a car at Amiens (not Paris Charles De Gaulle airport as this is very expensive) and with a battlefield guidebook (and suitable maps), you can do a self-drive tour. There are also some excellent day tours Accommodation is available in both B&B’s and a range of hotels. While the Somme and northern France has regional cuisine, this is hard to find without local knowledge so expect the usual steak and chips and a sharp red wine. In Ypres (Belgium), try the mushroom crepes and heavy beef stew and of course the beer and chocolates in the Market Square beside the Cloth Hall before heading to the nightly Menin Gate Ceremony at 8pm. The Menin Gates lists the names of 72,000 British Empire soldiers who died on the Ypres Salient and have no known grave including some 6,200 Australians.


Back in AIF Grass Lane all was silent and still, not a leaf moving on the trees that lined the central path. I turned off to the left, leaving a spring of gum leaves on the grave of an unknown Australian and walked to the wall. At the base of the wall was a narrow garden bed so I dug a shallow hole and placed a handful of gum leaves in the bottom. This ‘leaf burning’ replicates what the diggers would have done after they received a few precious leaves in the pages of their letters from home. I can see them, huddling in the bottom of a trench all sniffing the fragrant eucalyptus smoke as it smouldered and slowly burned. This was a very strong link with home – Australia was so far away and how their thoughts must have yearned for their families and their distant loved ones. Calling the tour group to me, they huddled around and watched as the leaves were lit by a woman whose grandfather was in the Great War. Immediately a wind came up. A strong gust took the smoke diagonally across the graves and out into the old battlefield beyond. Quickly the leaves burnt and smouldered and as they did, the wind dropped, then stopped. As we all passed back through the cemetery gates, the air was again silent and still. People looked at each other, wiping away the tears that were streaming down their faces, surprised and moved by what they had just seen and wondering about the phenomena they had just witnessed. The battlefields have a lot to offer the traveller, not the least the chance to remember our dead and honour them with our presence. I am sure our boys in their cold lonely graves, so far from home and rarely visited, appreciate the visit and the smell of the Australian bush. •

the last post Below: Quinn’s Post was named after Major Hugh Quinn and located on the northern edge of the main Anzac line, one of the most dangerous places at Gallipoli

*Will Davies has written four books – Somme Mud, In the Footsteps of Private Lynch, Beneath Hill 60 (a major movie brought this to life) and The Boy Colonel on the Great War. He is a respected historian, and leads tours for Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours, one for Anzac Day with the Dawn Service at the National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux and another in July for the anniversaries of the Battles of Fromelles (19 July) and Pozières (23 July).

This year we have commemorated the 100th anniversary of the landing of Gallipoli and in August the battle of Lone Pine and the August Offensive. In 2016 it will be the 100th anniversary of the battles at Fromelles and Pozieres.

IntroducIng excItIng new tours for 2016 GALLIPOLI Tour 1: Sunday 17th April 2016 11 day ANZAC Day tour

Tour 2: 31st July 2016 10 day August tour

Both tours offer extensive sightseeing along with the Gallipoli battlefields, memorials and museums.

NOrTherN FrANCe & BeLGIum “The WeSTerN FrONT” Tour 1: 20th April 2016 13 day ANZAC Day tour

Tour 2: 13th July 2016 13 day Centenary tour

Both tours offer sightseeing in Paris, Normandy, Bruges, Waterloo and Brussels along with the battlefields, memorials and museums of the Western Front. APt river cruise available post tour. –202–

For more information on the above tours please call 1300 768 478 or go to the website

travel facts Getting there Access to the battlefields is easy. Amiens is about 120km north of Paris with train services to Amiens and Lille as starting points. A hire car or mini-bus with a guide is essential as there is no local transport to the remote battlefield sites. Bikes can be hired with the riding generally over flat or slightly hilly terrain. When to go The best time to go is in summer (June–August) but this is also the busiest time in Europe. Spring is good (April–May) as the ground is free of crops and easier to understand terrain and ‘mud’. Going to the Dawn Service in Gallipoli is special, but some prefer to go when it is not so busy, to really soak up the extraordinary emotions that stir here. Tours There are a number of battlefield tour companies and this is a great way to do it. There are also experienced tour guides on the battlefield like John Anderson (Longueval) and Peter Smith (Flers) who are very familiar with Australian areas of operation. • Battle Tours and Historical Travel have tours from one to 28 days in length at all major battle sites: 1300-768-478; • Sacred Ground Tours conduct day tours from Arras to The Somme and Fromelles –Ypres, and in 2016 are offering a new tour for cruise ship visitors from Le Harve: 33-06/7566-5902; • Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours offer multi-day comprehensive group tours to the major sites or can custom-make an itinerary: 1300-880-340;

Where to stay Poziéres • Butterworth Farm B&B: Albert • Royal Picardy Hotel: Ypres • Varlet Farm B&B: • Albion Hotel: Gallipoli • Kum Hotel is in Eceabat: • The Tusan Hotel in Çanakkale: • The Kolin Hotel in Çanakkale: Further information Australian War Memorial: Turkey Travel Centre:

Great War Centenary Events • The Battle of Fromelles – 19 July, 2016 • The Battle of Pozières – 23 July, 2016 • Polygon Wood, Belgium, at Buttes New British Cemetery – 26 September, 2017 • Le Hamel, France, at Australian Corps Memorial – 4 July, 2018 • Anniversary of Armistice, Villers-Bretonneux, France – 11 November, 2018

SaCreD GrouND TourS AuSTrALiAn VieW on THe WeSTern FronT 1916 was the year the Anzacs were introduced to the Western Front. By 1918 they were hardened soldiers, the crack force of the Commonwealth and the heroes of a nation. A hundred years on allow Phil at Sacred Ground Tours to guide you through Australia’s action on the Western Front. Whether you are a leisure traveller, reconnecting with ancestors or simply there to experience where history happened. A simple choice of Day Tours for singles, couples and small groups run from the beautiful town of Arras, centrally located on the Western Front and a quick 50 minute train ride from Paris. Somme Day Tour Pozieres, Villers-Bretonneux, Mouquet Farm, Windmill Site, Le Hamel...

FromelleS – ypreS Day Tour Fromelles, Paschendaele, Tyne Cot, Polygon Wood, Last Post at Menin Gate... le Havre – WeSTerN FroNT Day Tour Pozieres, Villers-Bretonneux, Mouquet Farm, Windmill Site...

NeW in 2016

Supporting cruise ships porting for the day at Le Havre, France.


global street food

Swedish Meatballs,

Compiled by Flash Parker

Stockholm, Sweden

While meatballs are most often associated with Sweden (thank you, Jim Henson and the Swedish Chef!), nearly every country on earth can lay claim to a spherical minced meat iteration of their own. There’s the Indonesian bakso noodle soup, the enormous frikadeller that the Dutch are so fond of and the monster Bulgarian meatball known as tatarsko kufte. Yet the Swedish version, known as köttbullar, remain the most famous of all. You’ll find these little balls of meaty delight on menus all over Stockholm, but for a truly authentic bite, visit köttbullar at Tranan, where they are so popular they’re not even on the regular menu and Prinsen, a local haunt serving classic Scandinavian fare.

Hot Chicken,

Nashville, Tennessee Warning: One helping of Hattie B’s hot chicken may ruin you for poultry served any other way for the rest of your life. Hot chicken is a regional spin on fried chicken found throughout Nashville. During the prep stage, chicken is wet marinated in a spicy sauce that includes cayenne pepper, flour, spices and a few secret ingredients that can’t be mentioned here. Hot chicken is so popular that outfits that began as simply a food truck – like Hattie B’s – have garnered James Beard awards for their take on this simple dish. Hot chicken is so popular in Nashville that there’s even an annual festival celebrating its popularity.

Locro de Papa,

Quito, Ecuador

Locro de papa is a classic potato in cheese soup, most often associated with the people of the Andean Highlands and Quito (the soup is regionally known as locro quiteño), though it can be found today across Ecuador. Cheap to make, hearty and unusually satisfying, locro de papa is a favourite among locals and visitors alike. You’ll find it on restaurant menus across the city, often served as a first course. Regional variations abound, but some of the best include cabbage, blood sausage, peanuts and Andean corn nuts. This is the perfect soup to dip into after an Andean mountain expedition, or a day spent battling snarling Quito traffic. –204–

Nokcha Naengmyeon,

Boseong, South Korea

Green tea is one of South Korea’s ubiquitous ingredients – not quite as popular as kimchi, but not far behind, either. You’ll find green tea used as an ingredient in dumplings, ice cream, noodles, and every now and then, tea. Each present a unique South Korea spin on a classic dish, while one of the most delicious is nokcha naengmyeon, or green tea and cold buckwheat noodles. You can find this dish all over the country, in restaurants from Seoul in the north to Busan in the south, but for a truly authentic experience, head to the source – a small café overlooking the famed Boseong Tea Fields.

Food Trucks,

Haleiwa to Kualoa Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii, USA

You can’t miss the food trucks along Oahu’s North Shore; in many places, they’re the only sign of human habitation for miles. The stretch of highway between Haleiwa and Kualoa Ranch is particularly noteworthy for its food truck pods; here you’ll find everything from simple shrimp outfits to Korean BBQ joints to fresh coconut vendors. This is where you’ll find the legendary Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, slinging tasting crustaceans since 1993, Fumi’s Kahuku Shrimp, Romy’s Kahuku Prawns & Shrimp, and dozens of other simple, and simply delicious, open-air mobile gastro pubs. End your North Shore adventure with a cup of java from Green World Farms, and browse through the shop’s unique collection of curios, art and handicrafts.


Keshi Yena, the West Deck, Aruba

Keshi yena, or stuffed cheese shell, is a typical traditional Aruban dish made of a ball of cheese – usually Gouda or Edam – that has been stuffed with spiced meat (beef, poultry, lamb) and vegetables (olives, onions, tomatoes, and more), then baked or steamed. Keshi yena originated in the Dutch West Indies, when food was scarce, and table scraps were stuffed into the rinds of hearty cheeses. Today the dish is much beloved across Aruba (and neighbouring Curaçao), and can be found at fantastic oceanside restaurants like The West Deck, where it is served as a community appetiser.

Mountain Goat, Bamboo

Bar & Restaurant, Ninh Binh, Vietnam

Lobster Rolls, New

Ninh Binh is most famous for the region’s stunning karst topography and Tam Coc river cruises. The Tien caves, Van Trinh Grotto, ancient temple and crumbling ruins are also nearby – but foodies flock to the region to try mountain goat, a speciality. You could join a hunting party of hardcore locals and climb into the mountains yourself, or you could visit the atmospheric Bamboo Bar & Restaurant in Van Lam, where you can have local mountain goat prepared any way you like it – in a curry, a stir fry or anything else you can dream up.

England, USA

Hundreds, if not thousands, of restaurants, seafood shacks, harbour view inns and gastro pubs lay claim to New England’s best lobster roll – and whether or not each institution is correct is largely a matter of taste. But some destinations have a reputation for excellence and the pincher power to match. You can’t go wrong with the rustic flair of Woodman’s of Essex, a historic Massachusetts seafood house that serves some of the best lobster rolls in the region. Stowe’s in Connecticut is a seaside lobster shack that dishes some of the best bisque in the country, while high-end fare simply gets no better than The White Barn Inn, one of America’s premiere upmarket eateries.



Grundarfjörður, Iceland While the name may illicit images of a commercial disinfectant or stomach antacid, Graflax is actually akin to sushi – with an Icelandic spin, of course. This traditional Nordic dish is made of raw salmon that has been cured in a mixture of salt, sugar and dill. Often served as an appetiser with a dense bread and a sauce called hovmästarsås – made of mustard and dill – graflax has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years, especially in Reykjavik, where visitors often demand local Icelandic delicacies from local restaurants. One of the best versions of Graflax you’ll find in Iceland is served at Hotel Framnes, in the small western town of Grundarfjörður, on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula – pair it with a crisp Viking Pale Ale to begin your meal. The salmon here has been fished from local waters, and couldn’t arrive on your plate any fresher.

Lyall Hotel and Spa 16 Murphy Street, South Yarra Melbourne Australia 3141 +613 9868 8222 South Yarra Melbourne Australia




on ice BY Greg Grainger

There’s something breathtakingly riveting when you encounter a wild animal in its natural environment … whether you are in the Arctic, Antarctic or Galápagos.



WILD CREATURES Clockwise from top: Emperor Penguins have a good look at the visitors in the Weddell Sea; An iguana looks out to sea on The Galapagos Islands; Greg Grainger with a husky in Hudson Bay, Canada while filming a documentary on polar bears

’ll never forget the first time I saw a polar bear in the wild. I’d been travelling for a day along the coast of the stunning archipelago of Svalbard, midway between Norway and the North Pole. We’d encountered big herds of Svalbard reindeer and plenty of seals, but not a single bear. That’s the way it is with genuine wildlife sightings. You go for long periods with nothing. And then just as you think you’ll never see anything, there it is, very much alive and active. It’s a sensation that is always absolutely exhilarating. And certainly in Svalbard, my heart beat faster as we closed the distance between the bear and myself. My mind was racing. What a magnificent creature with its glistening fur lumbering across the ice. This bear was in the prime of his life, a young male actively hunting for seals. Clambering over ice formations. Leaping onto its hind legs to crash down onto the ice, trying to break through to reach a seal. We observed this bear for an entire day, following its every step. And at day’s end, just as we were preparing to head for our shelter, it emerged from the water blood red. It had made a kill, the seal still thrashing in its mouth. For the next hour we watched it devour its prey. An experience I’ll never forget. Svalbard and its Arctic neighbours are home to whales, walrus, seals, reindeer and polar bears. Then there are the many birds, including Brunich’s guillemots, kittiwakes and glaucous gulls. The only way to experience this global outpost is on an ice-strengthened ship. Every day, we would travel ashore in inflatable rafts, exploring the shoreline, visiting old whaling stations, and photographing the magnificent ice formations and wildlife that abound there. It is a thrilling experience, from the moment we landed in the quaint Svalbard settlement of Longyearbyen.

Opening image: A mother polar bear and her cubs in the Arctic


Heading south … way, way south

Animal attraction

If you like ice with that, it’s not all about the Arctic. For me, the Antarctic is equally as awesome. It’s like travelling out of this planet into another world. Amidst the stunning ice formations, are encounters with wildlife that will stay in your memory forever. I certainly will never forget when a beautiful humpback whale popped its head out of the water, and eye-balled me within arm’s reach. I really felt like it was communicating with me. These Antarctic trips take place on the ice-strengthened vessel, the Ortelius, a platform of safety and comfort that allows us to go ashore many times every day, either on one of its inflatable rafts, or on one of the two helicopters on board. Watching the Ortelius slice through the sea ice is mesmerising. On either side huge icebergs, are blanketed with penguins and seals. On shore, we experience new encounters every day with wildlife. One day, we spent hours watching a colony of Adelie Penguins. One by one they’d jump into the water, dolphining as they swam, then propelling themselves up out of the water onto the ice shelf, right beside us. On one occasion, we were treated to the sight of dozens of orcas, swimming exhuberantly around the bow of the Ortelius in formation. It was such an impressive sight, our seasoned Russian skipper took out his own video camera to capture that magic moment. The highlight of our adventure was the emperor penguins. The helicopters ferried us to within a kilometre of a colony of them. Not so close as to frighten them, yet allowing us to walk the final steps to get ever so close. And what impressive creatures they are, standing tall, preening their magnificent feathers, and watching over their down-covered chicks.

In the Galápagos Islands, we follow in the wake of explorer Charles Darwin, sailing to new islands every day and going ashore for new wildlife encounters. These islands straddle the equator and are teeming with wildlife, from penguins and iguanas to giant land tortoises and colourful booby birds. It’s a treasure trove of endemic species, a real naturalist’s paradise. And all conducted from the luxury of a powerful motor cruiser. •

Greg Grainger is an award-winning producer of wildlife documentaries, screened on National Geographic and Discovery Channels internationally. Photography courtesy Adventure Associates

travel facts The 11-day ‘Weddell Sea – Emperor Penguin’ voyage in Antarctica, led by Greg Grainger, departs Ushuaia on 26 November, 2015 on board the Ortelius. The 14-day ‘Spitsbergen and Franz Josef Land’ Tour will depart on the M/V Sea Spirit from Spitsbergen on 7 July, 2016. The eight-day ‘Galapagos In the Wake of Darwin’ tour departs San Cristobal on a luxury motor yacht on 11 September, 2016. In partnership with Adventure Associates, Greg Grainger Adventures also offers trips to Maria Island in Tasmania, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Bhutan, India, Botswana, Iran, Madagascar and the Himalayas. Further information Greg Grainger Adventures: 1300-959-189; –211–

global village Compiled by Helen Hayes

Tuk tuks at the


Large Minority Travel, the leading provider of adventure charity challenges, will be running the 3rd edition of the Cambo Challenge from 17-28 October 2015. The 12-day tuk tuk adventure taking place in Cambodia will see 20 teams comprising 50 adventurists from all over the world explore more than 1650km of the Kingdom of Wonder. From Angkor Wat to the pristine southern coast, this self-drive adventure charity challenge will give teams of two or three a close up and personal experience of some of the most fascinating heritage sites of Cambodia, while raising money for local charities. The route will cover more than 1650km of rugged and unexplored terrain, will provide challenging roads, innumerable potholes, and a few sore posteriors. The organisers also encourage each team to raise additional funds for their preferred charities in or out of Cambodia.

Carnival’s fathom

Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest travel and leisure company, has launched a new brand called fathom, that will offer authentic, meaningful impact travel experiences allowing participants to work alongside locals as they tackle community needs. What sets fathom apart is the long-term, systematic partnership approach with its partner countries paired with the unique business model that allows for sustained impact and lasting development. The company’s first destination will be the Dominican Republic, a country known for its spectacular beauty but also a country where the average household income is approximately $6,000 USD a year and more than two million Dominicans do not have access to piped water. Beginning in April 2016, fathom will embark on seven-day voyages from Port Miami aboard the MV Adonia, a 710-passenger vessel. Depending on their passions, interests and skills, travellers will have the opportunity to choose from a range of social impact activities and experiences both onboard and onshore. Activities will vary in length from a few hours to multiple days. fathom allows people to choose a travel experience that is all about giving back and helping others. –212–

Song Saa on song The Song Saa Foundation is a Cambodia-based organisation dedicated to protecting the land and waters of southern Cambodia’s Koh Rong Archipelago. With coral reefs, mangrove forests and sea grass beds – inhabited by sea turtles, whale sharks and seahorses – the Koh Rong Archipelago is one of the most diverse and least known marine environments in Southeast Asia. The creators of the Foundation, Rory and Melita Hunter, came to the region in the mid-2000s and later built the first high-end luxury resort in the Archipelago – Song Saa Private Island. Underpinning the development of the resort was a commitment to sustainability. The Song Saa Foundation has worked diligently to protect and improve the natural and human environments of the Archipelago, starting with the creation of Cambodia’s first ever marine reserve, the implementation of a village-wide solid waste management system, the biggest medical outreach project ever undertaken in the Archipelago with 1,000 people receiving medical attention over a five-day period, a beach clean-up event to mark International Coastal Clean-up Day; and implementing an environmental education program for kids.

in brief

Act for Kids

Act for Kids is an Australian charity that has been working for 27 years to prevent and treat child abuse and neglect. One of the ways to raise awareness and funds for Act for Kids is to take part in a fundraising trek, with the next trek a 100-kilometre journey across Vietnam. The nine-day fundraising trek will take place from 30 September to 8 October 2015, beginning in Hanoi, North Vietnam’s post-colonial ‘Paris of the East’. From here patricipants will go trekking and cycling through the cascading rice paddies of Mai Chau, before heading north to kayak around Halong Bay’s mystical islets. Nights will be spent in traditional Vietnamese homestays, taking in the language and culture from the ethnic minorities of the north.

Crystal Cruises has expanded the number of its ‘You Care, We Care’ excursions, taking the number to 16 and including brand new excursions to Victoria British Columbia, Santa Barbara California and Dubrovnik, Croatia, where passengers will help the poor, elderly and infirm at Domus Christ. Australian solar company, illumination solar, is bringing light to the poor by donating Mandarin 2.0 solar lights to people who don’t have electricity, in over 30 countries. The company is encouraging people to Buy One, Give One (BOGO), bringing light to families who normally have to use kerosene lamps. –213–

on the ground


Australian Himalayan Foundation

The devastating earthquakes in Nepal on Anzac Day and on 12 May caused enormous damage and suffering. The Australian Himalayan Foundation (AHF), assisting in Nepal for many years, has been going over and above to help people, particularly in the remote Lower Solu Khumbu area, where its highly successful education program is centred. V&T spoke to Simon Balderstone, the Founding Chairman of the AHF, to find out ways – especially by going on a fundraising trek – we can help the worst affected. The AHF was established in 2003 by a group of friends all connected through their passion for the Himalaya, and the challenge of climbing Mt Everest. “Trekking and travel brought about the Foundation. It was formed 12 years ago by a group of us who had spent many months of our lives guiding, trekking, climbing and visiting the Himalaya. I spent nine years guiding for Australian Himalayan Expeditions (co-started by Christine Gee, also a Founding Director of the AHF) on my holidays, the company that became World Expeditions. We were all friends and wanted to do something to give back to the people of the Himalaya to improve their wellbeing. We were inspired by the people, and the work that Sir Edmund Hillary – father of Peter, also an AHF Founding Director – had done for them, and wanted to do something similar,” Simon explained. “The focus of AHF is to make sure the kids, especially the poorest of the poor, and especially girls, can get an education, and a better one. When we first went into the Lower Solu Khumbu, the communities and schools were like those Sir Edmond Hillary had seen 50 or 60 years before in the Upper Khumbu. A lot of the communities are subsistence farming areas well away from the trekking and climbing areas and rarely visited by tourists. The people here live off the smell of an oily rag. Many kids worked in the fields or would have to go out on the road as porters. There are many instances of kids in their early teens or younger, walking for days to the north to carry loads much more than their own bodyweight. Many families just couldn’t afford to send their kids to school and keep them –214–

there. We want to help them get more safe and productive life and opportunities. “Our major program is our Teacher Training and Quality Education program. We train the trainers and help train the teachers; provide furniture and other resources and give the poorest kids education support packages – school bag, uniform - compulsory, and importantly a matter of pride and joy; basic kit (pencils, paper etc.) and money for lunch, which could well be the only proper meal they get. These support packages cost only $120 per child per year. “The program has been highly successful. We have trained 1400 primary school teachers, established volunteer programs for Australian and New Zealand teachers to train Nepali teacher trainers, and provide more than 500 packages. All this helps lift attendance and retention rates. We are assisting more than 300 communities in one way or another. There is even more demand for our services and assistance because of the earthquakes. “We provide what is needed most, to those who need it most.”

The Earthquakes “The Lower Solu Khumbu is just east of the epicentre of the second big quake. So it caused a lot more damage there than the first, with hundreds of homes lost and many schools destroyed. After the first quake we had local people from our education partner, REED, on the ground helping straight away, and one of our ambassadors, Andrew Lock, and Geoff Bartram, who did the first Australian Everest Expedition with me in 1984, volunteered to go to the Lower Solu Khumbu, with emergency supplies, to assess the damage done and the rebuilding needs. They were there when the second quake hit. “They established that probably 160 schools are in need of urgent repair and 60 could require rebuilding. With the monsoon quickly approaching, the AHF worked closely with REED to set up temporary classrooms across the region and is now focussed on school rebuilding, using low cost, earthquakeresistant designs and methods, in consultation with structural engineers, architects and other NGOs.”

help in the himalaya From left: A school destroyed in Dhading; Dick Estens, Chairman’s Trekker with schoolkids supported by the AHF, in the lower Solu Khumbu

Everest region. The exchange between the schools and children and the trekkers is inspirational. The locals are so appreciative and the trekkers understand how important their donation is. Everyone who goes to this region takes home memories of not only the mountains, but the people too. They are so genuine, incredibly hard working and have amazing spirit. They are really wonderful people, and it is because of them that we started the Foundation in the first place.”

How to help

The Foundation is needed more than ever now Simon, and Peter Hillary take a fundraising “Chairman’s Trek” into the region most years, and are planning two next year, meaning more money will be raised to help the people. “The Chairman’s Trekkers – the core has been a group of amazing supporters from Moree - donate to the AHF on top of the trek cost, and we visit schools and communities the AHF assists, and the trekkers see with their own eyes where their money is going. We then head north and see the sights of the

The AHF’s increasing number of support treks – in Nepal, India and Bhutan – are an opportunity to experience the remote Himalaya in a truly unique way (Garry Weare, Himalayan trekking author and consultant, and also a Founding Director of the AHF, designs many of the treks) and are a very effective and enjoyable way for people to help, as the donation is used effectively and directly by the AHF to support Nepalis. Visit the projects, meet the people and witness the beauty of this region accompanied by the AHF team and their partners on the ground. People can raise money for their donation on top of their trek fees through GoFundraise and Everyday Hero. See for details on the treks. Kathmandu, a sponsor of AHF, organises treks for its “Summit Club” members too, to further support AHF. You can also get together your own support trek, or fundraise for the AHF using any of World Expeditions’ exciting Huma Charity Challenge trips. For Teachers in Australia and New Zealand who are interested in volunteering in Nepal, for teacher training (there are two trips a year), there is information on the requirements on •

7 Star Getaway recommended for couples and honeymooners


$5,499/pp Twin Share


$2,450/pp Twin Share


$3,999/pp Twin Share

Diamond Program

Platinum Program

Pearl Program

Includes: 6 nights at Burj Al Arab Hotel with return transfer and afternoon tea.

Includes: 5 nights at the Mina A Salam Hotel, 1 night at Burj Al Arab with return transfers

Includes: 3 nights at Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa, 3 nights at Burj Al Arab with transfers throughout

Call: 1300 661 666



shop around Compiled by lisa perkovic

Rossignol SIN 7 Skis

Heading to the ski fields this season? These new Rossignol skis will look after you in backcountry, freeride and freestyle terrain. Air Tip technology for floatation, a redesigned Powder Turn Rocker and ultra-light swing weight for tight control puts this powder ski at the top of the list. The Sin 7 is 98mm underfoot, with Rossignol Axium 120 binding and is considered 70 per cent powder and 30 per cent all mountain. It’s available in 164, 172, 180 and 188 sizing.

Vocier C38

We’re guessing James Bond never has to worry about his luggage – but if he did, he’d probably be wheeling the Vocier C38 through the terminal. The international carry on trolley bag has just won an IF Design Award. Its Zero-Crease System is designed to transport two suits (yes two) crease free to your destination. The magnetic hanger system keeps your suits tucked in as they’re essentially rolled around the shell of the bag. Lightweight aluminium, engineered plastic used in BMW car manufacturing and Italian leather keep everything in their best shape. And, of course, in style.

Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

If you’re a frequent flyer and you don’t own a pair of these headphones, you’re missing out. Known as the QC25, these new Bose headphones benefit from TriPort technology, so you don’t miss out on stereo sounds, but also don’t have to deal with the ‘hiss’ often associated with noise cancelling ear pieces. One AAA battery gets you 35 hours of noise cancelling, with QC25 now available in iPhone and Android compatible models.


Maine Beach

Lord Howe Island Collection

There’s something about coconut that just screams island getaway. The brand new collection from South Australian brand Maine Beach will remind you of the best tropical holiday you’ve ever had. You’ll drift away on a cloud of lime, coconut, berghamot and vanilla bean. The hand and body crème, body polish, soap and lip balms are all paraben, sulphate and mineral oil free. Island getaways are imaginary, not included.

Kathmandu Moda Tote Pack The backpack/handbag dilemma is a tricky one. Long walks through airports and waiting in line at museums are backpack territory but fine dining and business class lounges are definitely when you’d prefer to be holding a handbag. Enter this new modular bag from Kathmandu. Available in black or charcoal, the bag has back straps that can be pulled out when you need a backpack and tucked away when you’d prefer to switch over to something a little more stylish. An interior padded pocket can hold a 15 inch laptop or tablet – great for travelling.

Sony Alpha5100

Pocket-sized interchangeable lens cameras are the way of the future for travellers, with the image quality moving ahead in leaps and bounds. Sony’s smallest interchangeable lens camera weighs just 283 grams but packs in a hefty 24.3MP APS-C size Exmor CMOS sensor and the impressive Fast Hybrid AF system in a very small space. The a5100 is compatible with Sony E-mount lenses, shoots full HD movies and has a 180 degree tiltable touch screen – perfect for selfies on the road.


Marc Jacobs Mod


Marc Jacobs has never been known as a delicate wallflower and this latest fragrance is no different. Bold and beautiful, the Mod Noir is inspired by the classic gardenia fragrance heart, with a modern twist designed by perfumer Jean-Claude Delville. Exclusive to Sephora, now open in Sydney’s CBD, the fragrance is already turning heads for its creamy musk base and green top, along with a very striking 60s-esque bottle.


Canberra-based entrepreneur Trish Smith is behind 2015’s newest travel accessory. The Airpocket is designed to sit in your plane’s seat-back pocket, with compartments for passport, tablet, phone, pen and other bibs and bobs. With a successful Kickstarter campaign behind it, Airpocket’s online store has just launched, with pre-orders commencing in the next few months and the first deliveries expected in October.



The days when helmets were a rarity on the ski fields are long gone; these days everyone wears one. The latest range from Anon Helmets helps you stay safe and in style on the slopes. The Thompson, Rodan and Keira are all ASTM 2040 certified, with Fidlock Snap Helmet Buckles, fleece liners and a Boa Fit System. They’re also Skullcandy ASFX audio compatible if you like to plug in your music while you ride. –218–

Nordica Belle Pro

There’s no reason you need to sacrifice style or state-of-the-art technology on the slopes. The Nordica Belle Pro ski boot is sleek and chic, with all the latest features in ski boot technology. The custom cork liner is partnered with PrimaLoft, which is being used for the first time in a ski boot liner. Superior insulation and grip control will keep you comfy on the slopes, and if your tootsies get cold, consider adding a Thermic heated foot bed.;

Crème Simon

Travel is no excuse to sacrifice your skincare. Beloved French skincare range Crème Simon is now available in Australia. Dating back to 1860, Crème Simon has had plenty of time to perfect its formulas and was first produced by Joseph Simon who used a plant-based cream to aid the chapped hands of laundry women working along the River Rhone. The Travel Kit’s Restorative Light Night Moisturiser, Gentle Double Exfoliation Scrub and the Micellar Water Makeup Remover are a great introduction to the brand and perfect for your suitcase.


cruise news Compiled by Helen Hayes

Pandaw explores the Upper Mekong

Luxury river cruise adventure company, Pandaw will launch new cruises on the Upper Mekong River in February 2016, on board the brand new Laos Pandaw. The seven-night cruises will depart from Chiang Saen in Thailand, cruising to Burma, onto Laos and then into China, with the cruise ending in Jinghong in Yunnan Province. There will be eight departures for this reconnaissance itinerary, with highlights sure to be Menglun Botanical Gardens in China, visiting Aka tribal villages in Muang Long Laos, Mangfeilong Monastery & Tea Plantation in China and the scenic Old Mandalay Road in Burma. The Laos Pandaw has been specifically built to sail the navigable sections of the Upper Mekong and comprises 10 stylish staterooms, modern design and excellent service.

Star enterprise

Star Cruises’ flagship, SuperStar Virgo, is undertaking an epic 48-day voyage in South East Asia and Australia. Departing from Hong Kong on 13 November, 2015, the ship will be making its first appearance in Australia in ten years. Apart from Australian ports, the ship will also visit Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam with stops in over 20 ports including Bali, Bangkok, Jakarta, Krakatoa, Ho Chi Minh City and Singapore. The 48-day voyage can also be broken up into shorter segments such as Hong Kong/ Singapore/Fremantle, or Fremantle/Sydney via Adelaide, Melbourne and Tasmania, or Sydney/Hong Kong. –220–

Legend Halong

Halong Bay is one of those enchanting destinations that makes it onto most bucket lists. Bhaya Cruises offers excellent boutique Legend Halong cruising options in Halong Bay, with eight charter vessels allowing more choice. The Legend fleet includes junks with one, two, three and four cabins – all luxurious – and all for exclusive use. Imagine, a vessel to yourself, with a tailor-made itinerary and five-star service, meaning you can go where you want when you want, rather than be on a strict itinerary. Bhaya Cruises are perfect for individuals, couples, families and friends wishing for an exclusive, private, customised charter cruise on this beautiful part of Vietnam.

Viking takes to the sea

Previously known for its river cruising vessels, Viking has taken to the waves launching a new business – Viking Ocean Cruises, and its first ship – Viking Star. The ship was christened on 17 May in Bergen, Norway – its home port – and was built with Scandinavian heritage in mind. Viking Star’s 465 cabins all have verandas and can accommodate a total of 930 passengers. The ship will be a regular in ports across the Mediterranean and Western Europe, including Athens, Santorini, Kotor, Dubrovnik, Venice, Barcelona, Seville (Cadiz), Gibraltar, Lisbon, Paris (Rouen) and London with a complimentary excursion in each port and an excellent cultural enrichment program on board. Two more ships, Viking Sea and Viking Sky, are under construction.


Cargo cruising in style

Aranui Cruises has shown off the future of luxury cargo cruising in Tahiti, unveiling the look of its new ship, Aranui 5. Launching in 2016 with capacity for 260 passengers, the 125-metre long freighter will offer a range of accommodation options, from the operator’s first single staterooms to new premium and deluxe categories. More than half of the ship’s rooms will feature a private balcony, with the vessel also offering suites with king beds, a swimming pool with a whirlpool, a fitness room and a spa and four bars, including the popular Sky bar on the open deck. The new ship will conduct 14-day roundtrip cruises from Papeete, delivering food, fuel and other staples to remote island ports including several places in the Marquesas, Takapoto and the stunning Rangiroa in the Tuamotus and beautiful Bora Bora in the Society Islands. While the ship is offloading, passengers disembark and enjoy a range of excursions.

Uncruise in Alaska

Discover Alaska with Uncruise, a small ship cruise company who do cruising, but not as you know it. Uncruise offers seven to 21-night cruises exploring the Inside Passage and Glacier Bay National Park. Guests will spend two days in Glacier Bay National Park, see brown bears, black bears, polar bears, rainforests, glaciers, humpbacks orcas, bald eagles and more. For added luxury choose the Safari Explorer, with 18 cabins including suites, three public decks to ensure guests don’t miss any of the action, an intimate wine library, salon and upscale dining room.


APT Sails Ahead

With new ships, new journeys, special events cruising, new sightseeing options and special booking offers, APT’s Europe River Cruising program is taking off. APT’s ‘Royal Collection’ Magnificent Europe river cruises, which sail between Amsterdam and Budapest, feature three of the royal jewels in APT’s sightseeing crown: a journey aboard the luxurious Majestic Imperator train; a private visit to Namedy Castle and a private musical soiree at Vienna’s newly refurbished City Palace. APT will introduce two new state-of-theart ships in 2016, the MS AmaStella and MS AmaViola. Both Concerto class river ships, the luxury 158-passenger vessels incorporate innovative design features such as Twin Balconies (an APT exclusive) and spacious Owner’s Suites. APT will also introduce new Bordeaux river cruising for 2016.


At Last

For the ultimate vacation on water, a luxury yacht charter fits the bill. The world’s most beautiful waterways have a huge selection of vessels of various sizes, crewed or bareboat, and you can charter the whole yacht or just take a cabin. One of the finest examples is At Last, a 44-metre vessel that is top of the range. The yacht features The Owner’s Suite, with two walk-in robes and an ensuite with a large Jacuzzi, double sinks, and a large rain shower, with four guest staterooms on the lower deck. The vessel is perfect for families or a group of friends, with the full range of equipment for fun in the sun. It has a 36 ft. waterslide, a scuba diving instructor, a water trampoline, jet skis and a large tender to whiz guests about. Add to that a private chef and a crew of seven delivering five-star service, and your sailing adventure in the French Riviera or the Caribbean will be unforgettable.

in brief

Salsa around South America with Princess

Princess Cruises has announced it will conduct its first circumnavigation of South America from Australia in 2017. The 84-night ‘Circle South America’ cruise on Sea Princess will visit 28 ports across 18 countries including Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador and Uruguay, giving travellers ample opportunity to soak up the exotic cultures of South America, while enjoying all the comforts of a Princess cruise. The ‘Circle South America’ cruise will depart Sydney on 11 January, 2017. The South America voyage is a highlight of Princess’ new 2016-17 program, with another feature a line voyage from England to Australia on board the Emerald Princess on her first ever season in Australia. Emerald Princess will depart Southampton on 28 September, 2016 with the 48-day voyage delivering a grand adventure on four continents.


Evergreen Tours has released its program of European River Cruising and Tours for 2016, with new river and ocean cruise combinations including the Mediterranean, Baltic and Arctic. Passengers will be able to do a 15-day river cruise and then choose a cruise on the Norwegian fjords, the Baltic Sea, Arctic Circle or the Mediterranean Sea. Sea Cloud Cruises has introduced its 2016 cruises with one of the highlights being a Culinary Journey on board Sea Cloud. Star chef Harald Rüssel and wine expert Nik Weis will be aboard the ship on a multifaceted journey from the Basque Region to Normandy, visiting Pauillac, La Rochelle, the Belle-Ile-enMer and Brest. There will also be an evening in San Sebastian with famous celebrity chef Martin Berasategui.

S.S. Maria Theresa Lounge

ALL-INCLUSIVE LUXURY EUROPEAN RIVER CRUISES Embark on a history-steeped, perfectly paced luxury European journey that takes you through four countries along three great rivers—the Danube, Main, and Rhine—and to countless UNESCO World Heritage sites from Budapest to Amsterdam.





From Melk Abbey’s great library, to the medieval lanes of Bamberg to the great cultural cities of Budapest and Vienna, this itinerary offers travellers of all tastes an opportunity to uncover the true jewels of European history, culture and art.

European Jewels

BUDAPEST TO AMSTERDAM | 15 DAYS Priced from $7,999 *per person twin share

Uniworld’s resplendent new Super Ship, the S.S. Maria Theresa elevates all-inclusive, ultra-luxurious river cruising in Europe to an entirely new level. Picture yourself gliding peacefully along Europe’s great rivers onboard this 18th-century Baroque floating palace, where you’ll be inspired at every turn. | 1300 780 231 | #ExploreUniworld CONTACT YOUR LOCAL TRAVEL AGENT ^Pay-in-Full Savings are not combinable any other promotional offers, and requires full payment at time of booking. Actual savings may vary and be of lesser value. Valid for sale till 31 July 2015, unless sold out prior. *Advertised price is inclusive of maximum savings and port tax and is based on 6 Nov 2016 departure in Category 5 travel, twin-share. Offers are subject to availability at time of booking and category upgrade and single supplement charges will apply. Prices and taxes correct at time of printing. Uniworld reserves the right to withdraw offer at any time without further notice. Capacity Controlled. For further details please contact your Local Travel agent or visit UW4014

tried & tested Compiled by Sue Wallace

Belmond Orcaella

Glimmering pagodas and ancient temples take centre stage as the luxe cruiser Belmond Orcaella meanders along Myanmar’s tranquil rivers. The ever passing parade of bulging boats and low slung barges, women scrubbing clothes near the river’s edge and children playing in the shallows provide a colourful glimpse of river life. Belmond’s newest 50-passenger, four-decked vessel has 25 air-conditioned cabins, staterooms and suites with floor-to-ceiling glass doors and Juliet-style balconies that open to the Ayeyarwady or Chindwin Rivers depending on the itinerary. A hearty chorus of “Mingalarba,” the Burmese welcome greeting soon becomes familiar with daily excursions to remote villages, well-known attractions and colourful markets. Chilled towels and tasty fruit juice shots await passengers on their return while dusty shoes are quickly whisked away to appear again looking like new. Life on board features interesting lectures from experts on Burmese history and art as well as providing insights into Myanmar’s rich and turbulent heritage. Burmese staff teach passengers how to tie a longyi – the traditional long skirt and apply thanaka that’s made from bark and used by women as a sunblock and make up. Dining is an adventure with spicy curries, delicate green tea leaf salads, superb soups and decadent desserts. Daily feasts are served in the elegant linen-clad dining room with a highlight a gourmet barbecue complete with flickering candles among the ruins of Min Hla fort, where villagers entertain in the moonlight. Passengers can take a dip in the plunge pool, workout in the gym and indulge in a spa treatment followed by warm ginger tea, but you just don’t want to miss what’s around the next river bend. The sundeck is a perfect viewing spot and a Shan balloon that disappears in orchestrated flight into Myanmar’s darkness holds wishes of return visits.

True North

There’s only one rule when you board the luxury adventure cruise ship True North – no shoes. It is definitely a bare foot zone and from the moment you kick them off, holiday mode sets in. The sleek boat caters for 36 passengers with a crew of 20, whose aim is to ensure passengers enjoy a cruise of a lifetime. Although the True North, part of North Star Cruises Australia, is best known for its iconic Kimberley cruises, it also heads to other Australian, Indonesia and Papua-New Guinea waters. With a ship’s biologist, a team of naturalists, a helicopter and six dedicated expedition boats there’s always plenty to do. On an eight-night Southern Safari cruise around the Great Australian Bight, shark cage diving is just one of the adventure activities offered and there’s plenty of action as great whites circle the underwater cage. Stunning scenery, history, wildlife encounters, fresh seafood, beachcombing and fishing are the themes of this cruise that showcases Kangaroo Island, Port Lincoln, rugged shorelines and isolated islands sculpted by the wind and sea. Landlocked excursions include Kangaroo Island with a visit to Flinders Chase National Park and the outstanding Remarkable Rocks. Wind and waves have carved these colourful rocks into incredible shapes and Admiral’s Arch is a haven for seals basking in the sun. It is gourmet cuisine and seafood treats all the way with fresh oysters, char-grilled marron tail, pearl meat ceviche, tuna sashimi and blue swimmer crabs. The great thing about True North is you can be as busy or as laid-back as you like. You can fish, go beachcombing or laze on the sundeck with a good book. But days are action-packed with little time to spend in the comfortable cabins cared for by True North angels. Cruise over, shoes are a big reality check. –226–



delights BY Barry O’Brien

Cruising in the Greek Islands or on the Black Sea is special enough, but when you are on board a Seabourn ship, prepare to be really spoilt.


here was a buzz of excited chatter punctuated by bursts of laughter – sounds of people having a good time – as the coach returned us to Seabourn Odyssey, the ultra-luxury cruise ship carrying us around the Greek Islands. All the talk was of the superb evening spent listening to the melodious popular classics, played by the Aegean Chamber Orchestra, drifting through the balmy night air as we sat among the ruins of the 2000-year-old amphitheatre at Ephesus in Turkey. Once the strategic coastal gateway to the eastern world and second largest city in the Roman Empire, it is said the Virgin Mary spent the last years of her life there.

Along with the other passengers, my wife Pat and I were on our way back from one of the most enchanting evenings ever experienced while on a cruise. The night started with an early dinner – always a culinary experience on Seabourn ships. Then a 30-minute coach journey out of the port of Kuşadasi transported us to the historic ancient site, which was closed to the public for the night allowing us exclusive access. The stroll through the ruins, uncluttered by thousands of tourists, contrasted with the earlier daytime visit. Once seated, we supped on Mediterranean fare of fat, fleshy olives,


from sea to shore Clockwise from above: Breakfast at Athens Gate Hotel Athens with the Acropolis in background; Marina day; The busy Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; The cable car access and zig zag donkey track at Santorini Opening image: The startlingly beautiful Mykonos/Shutterstock

cheese, biscuits, nuts and other goodies, washed down with very good wine. We were on back-to-back seven-night Greek Island and seven-night Black Sea cruises aboard the 450-passenger ship. Ports visited after boarding in Piraeus (Athens) were Milos, Mykonos, Santorini, Kuşadasi, Chios, Çanakkale and Istanbul where the Black Sea cruise began and ended. From there it was Nessebar, Constanta, Odessa, Yalta and Sinop. The night at Ephesus is included in the fare – just one of the many highlights that makes a Seabourn cruise so special. There was another surprise in store for us as our coach approached the ship. Lined up on the wharf were smiling chefs, waiters and ship’s staff wishing us “welcome home” and offering – yes, you guessed it – more food and drink. A superb way to end a perfect evening. Kuşadasi is a fun port, with multiple traders right at the dockside, all with a catch-cry to attract attention. The silk rugs, made from millions of silkworms, are exquisite. –230–

Earlier, on our initial boarding, we were warmly greeted by our stateroom hostess with a glass of champagne and a choice of fragrant soaps. The mini fridge was stocked with our choice of alcohol and soft drink previously nominated when we checked in online. All food and drink is included on a Seabourn cruise. On the second day of the cruise, we were surprised when waiters we didn’t recognise welcomed us by name, both at breakfast and lunch as well as the evening meal. All staff are encouraged to learn and remember passengers’ names – it’s all part of the award-winning Seabourn service. With the random seating at night we were given the alternative of dining alone or with others and we always chose the latter. Lasting friendships are forged from chance

sea spray Below: A Spa Suite on Seabourn Odyssey

meetings on ships. The very efficient maître d’ had an uncanny knack of combining pairs or even groups so that our evening meals, apart from the wonderful food, were always congenial and informative affairs. And the arm-in-arm escort to the table with the waiter or waitress is a pleasant touch. Occasionally we received an invitation to dine at a table hosted by one of the ship’s staff. We had meals with a comedian, musician, the doctor, Hotel Manager and ship’s Captain, David Bathgate who proved a charming host. On these evenings partners are separated, sitting at different ends of the table – which can be interesting – depending on the luck of the draw. Sitting at a hosted table is optional, but we always accepted the invitation and were generally fortunate in the match-ups.

Santorini style In the Greek Islands, the ship was due to arrive at Santorini on one day and Mykonos the next. However, Captain Bathgate learned that on the days we were due in each respective port, so were three other large ships. So he swapped days. It was a masterstroke. We had the two locations to ourselves. The seas were whipping up as we strolled along the Mykonos foreshore, with the distinctive white painted grout between the stones, and by the time we left port, the seas were rough. So rough that the big ships couldn’t tie up the next day and their passengers missed Mykonos altogether. Thanks to Captain Bathgate and Seabourn’s flexibility, we were tendered in to Santorini, dubbed the most popular island in Greece, in perfect weather. Instances like this set Seabourn apart. We chose to ride the cable car to the town perched precariously on top of a hill and walk back down the donkey track. The donkeys carrying tourists all looked well fed and cared for. A cleaner with bucket and shovel quickly pounced on anything left on the track.

shopper’s paradise where bargaining is almost the national sport. A good starting point for negotiation is to offer about half the asking price and work toward meeting half way. It is fun and expected, so have no qualms at getting the best price possible. Our first port in The Black Sea, the charming UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site of Nessebar in Bulgaria, is known as the ‘Pearl of the Black Sea’ and has a shimmering lustre of its own. After arriving by tender, we wandered through the winding maze of cobblestone streets, past churches dating back to the 5th century and admired the wares of the street sellers. Basically a fishing village, the picturesque town also relies on tourism for income. Back on board our luxury ship, we enjoy the touch of formality in the main dining room. The atmosphere on formal nights, when most guests get “dolled up” in their finery, with tuxedos and black tie for gents and an evening gown for the ladies, is the pinnacle of elegant cruising. Jackets for gentlemen are required on many nights, while slacks and shirt suffice on others – but never jeans or shorts. Seabourn Odyssey features one of the largest spas in a cruise ship; and a built-in marina. The 11 decks include two swimming pools, six outdoor whirlpools, water sports from the marina and a private diamond showroom. The Retreat features a nine-hole mini golf course, a giant chessboard and shuffleboard. • Photography by Barry O’Brien and Michel Verdure

travel facts Getting There We flew Emirates to Athens and from Istanbul. Flights depart daily and route through Dubai. 1300-303-777; Cruising A 14-night cruise from Athens to Istanbul on Seabourn Odyssey departs 5 September, 2015, and includes calls to Mykonos, Kuşadasi and Nessebar. • Seabourn: 132-402; Where To stay In Athens we stayed at the Athens Gate Hotel. A full breakfast was included and the dining room overlooked the Acropolis. It was a short walk from the famous Plaka, the oldest area of Athens. +30-210/9238-302; Tips • Taxis are inexpensive in Athens and the best way to see the sights. • Our flight from Istanbul left in the late afternoon and Seabourn arranged a driver/guide after disembarking to show us the city and transport us to the airport. This was another great Seabourn service.

Into the Black

Where to eat: The Plaka is filled with interesting shops and reasonably priced eating places. We shared a huge combination chicken and lamb yiros plate, with a soft drink and coffee for 20 euros.

Rowdy, thriving Istanbul with its mosques, bazaars, bargains, delicious Turkish delight and copious offers of cups of tea, is a

Further information Seabourn:


flight paths Compiled by helen hayes

May the force be with ANA

All Nippon Airways (ANA) will be a force in the skies, particularly for fans of all things Star Wars. The airline will be launching an innovative Star Wars livery, featuring R2-D2 on its newest 787-9 Dreamliner, marking the beginning of a five-year ANA Star Wars™ Project and agreement with The Walt Disney Company (Japan) Ltd. This is the first time a character will appear on the exterior of a commercial aircraft. The Star Wars livery is in line with ANA’s strategy to further enhance its international presence, significantly expanding its international flight network from Haneda and Narita in Tokyo. The airline now has ten North American destinations, launching flights from Tokyo to Houston in June 2015. The partnership with Star Wars is a perfect match as Japan’s largest airline seeks to connect travellers around the world through this project.

Delta upgrades its menu

Delta Air Lines has introduced a new menu on flights between Sydney and Los Angeles featuring meals designed by Chef Michael Chiarello from Napa Valley, California. Chef Chiarello’s distinctive menu choices include an appetiser, salad and three main choices. Chef Chiarello is the chef/owner of Bottega, a critically acclaimed restaurant in Yountville, California, purveyor of NapaStyle. He has twice been named Chef of the Year by Food and Wine magazine and by the Culinary Institute of America. Chef Chiarello is part of Delta’s exclusive culinary team, which also includes Michelle Bernstein and Linton Hopkins. All menus from the chefs are complemented by wines selected by the airline’s Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson. Delta also introduces Australian products for Delta One customers, which include Australian king prawns and barramundi for main options, dessert from Serendipity and Australian cheeses.


Air New Zealand lounging in Sydney

Air New Zealand opened its ground-breaking lounge at Sydney Airport in May – the first constructed with a new ultra-modern design. The lounge measures more than 1,500sqm and features a mix of spaces to meet the differing needs of around 300 guests, whether they’re looking to relax and refresh or plug in and get some work done before their flight. The design of the lounge took into account feedback from loyal Air New Zealand frequent flyers, and what they wanted in a world-class lounge. A focal point of the lounge is the bar, with customers able to enjoy barista-made coffee during the days and New Zealand wines and cocktails in the evenings. Guests can order their coffee through their Air New Zealand app on their phones as they enter the lounge, and will be alerted when it’s ready. There is a quiet zone, a business zone and a kids’ area to keep little ones entertained. The airline will open its flagship lounge at Auckland International Airport in August this year.

Qantas hops back to San Fran

Qantas will once again fly from Sydney to the Golden Gate city, beginning 20 December, 2015. Services will initially operate on peak days and will increase to six per week in January 2016 using its newer Boeing 747-400 aircraft that have the same style interiors as the A380. Qantas’ flights to San Francisco are made possible by American Airlines starting a direct daily Sydney to Los Angeles service from 19 December 2015. This will replace four Qantas’ B747 Sydney to Los Angeles services per week and one Qantas B747 Melbourne to Los Angeles service per week. American Airlines’ Trans-Pacific flights will be operated by its new B777-300ER featuring lie-flat seats in First and Business. The enhanced relationship also provides opportunities for future growth into trans-Pacific markets not currently served by either airline, such as New Zealand.


Turkish has style

Turkish Airlines has introduced new amenity kits and relax sets from some of the best designer brands in the world. There will be four different amenity kits in Business Class, with Jaguar kits for long haul outbound flights, and Cerutti kits for inbound. The Jaguar branded bag can be reused as a table case or document holder and has inner pouches for comfort items and cosmetics. The Cerruti branded bag is elegant and simple, with a front flap which adds sophistication. It’s a perfect size for passengers to reuse the bag as a toiletry bag or to store personal items when travelling. Inside the bag is a variety of comfort items including cosmetics from ‘Institut Karite’. The long-haul kits will change again in 18 months to Furla for outbound and Bentley for inbound. Economy kits will also be updated, with Chopard providing the outbound kit and Institut Karite the inbound.

Jetstar to fly direct to China

Jetstar will offer non-stop flights from Australia to China from September with the innovative carrier launching a service between the Gold Coast and Wuhan. The twice-weekly service kicks off on 29 September and will be operated by Jetstar’s 335-seat Boeing 787-8 fleet on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Jetstar says the route is supported by Chinese company Dalian Wanda Group, which will help sell seats and travel packages to Chinese tourists looking to visit Australia. Wuhan, which has a population of 10 million, is the capital of the Hubei province, which is situated in central China. Jetstar now has eight Dreamliners in action, with a further three due to arrive by September to operate the new service.


in brief

Singapore Airlines’ new

Premium seats

Singapore Airlines has unveiled its new premium economy seats, with Sydney the first destination for the newly upgraded A380 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, as well as the new A350 fleet. From August, passengers in Premium Economy will enjoy being in a separate cabin with the modern seats in a 2-4-2 configuration, with more pitch, more legroom, a wide centre console and more comfort. Each seat is upholstered in leather and equipped with an adjustable winged head rest, calf-rest and foot-rest. Passengers will even be able to book their meal from a selection of specially created dishes through the Premium Economy Book the Cook service before they fly. Flights to London, Hong Kong, Frankfurt and Paris will follow as the airline moves to rapidly fit the new seats across its flagship fleet.

Sydney to Solomon


Solomon Airlines has commenced flights from Sydney to the Solomon Islands on board an Airbus A320 aircraft. The flights will depart Honiara on Mondays and depart Sydney on Tuesdays, with the timings on the new route specifically planned to seamlessly link up with other Australian cities and international connections. These new connections will be excellent for those flying to or from Canberra, Melbourne and Perth in Australia and New Zealand, the US, Asia, Middle East, the UK and Europe.

Air Tahiti Nui has ordered two 787-9 Dreamliners, heralding an exciting new era for international travel to and from arguably the world’s most beautiful islands – Tahiti. The flag carrier for French Polynesia has also leased two additional 787-9s, ensuring even more visitors can experience the delights of this spectacular place. Malaysia Airlines’ First and Business Class passengers will enjoy the Dari Dapur Istana (From the Royal Kitchen) until December 2015. The menu is a collaboration with Her Royal Highness (HRH) the Crown Princess of Pahang and will be served to guests on outbound flights from Kuala Lumpur to selected destinations in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and regional sectors. LAN Airlines, a member of LATAM Airlines Group, has introduced the first 787-9 aircraft in Latin America to its fleet. The new LAN aircraft began commercial service in April 2015, from Santiago, Chile to Lima, Perú and on to Los Angeles, California. The company will have six 787-9 aircraft by the end of the year. Cathay Pacific Airways has opened a new lounge for passengers travelling out of Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport. Located at Level 3 in the Concourse G Departure Hall, the Bangkok lounge adopts the airline’s new lounge design template that has already been employed at Cathay Pacific lounges in Haneda Airport in Tokyo and Manila. Etihad Airways much-anticipated A380 has begun operating on the Sydney-Abu Dhabi and Sydney-London routes. The A380 features The Residence by EtihadTM, the airline’s luxurious private three-room suite in the sky, a first in commercial aviation, as well as groundbreaking innovations in all cabins.


global apps Compiled by Hugh McCrystal

Cloze Free Yes, we have officially reached the point where multiple social-media platforms mean it’s worth downloading an app just to keep track of them all. Cloze is our pick of the ‘relationship management’ apps on the market. It cleanly aggregates all your contacts’ social posts to save you time.

Feedly Free If you’re already using Feedly on your desktop, you’ll know why we’re recommending the complementary app. If you haven’t, get ready to have all your favourite news sources streamlined and delivered to you as a seamless feed of clickable headlines. It sure beats trawling the web aimlessly.

Converter Plus Free Updating every six hours to stay abreast of currency fluctuations, this app will keep you from getting ripped off next time you’re haggling at a souk. But it can also convert measurements, act as a world clock and calculate the tip for your dinner in Dallas. Beyond useful.


Strava Free Got a pair of sneakers and a competitive streak? Or maybe you’re a keen cyclist. Put your need to win to good use and download this app, which tracks your speed and distance to pit you against fellow athletes all over the world. You might even make it into the top ten!

Perfect365 Free Sick of taking selfies and noticing pesky wrinkles, spots, or worse – both at once? This admittedly slightly cheesylooking app will make blemishes a thing of the past. Choose one of the simpler natural touch-ups for best results – or a full-on makeup look if you need a good laugh.

QuizUp Free Next time you’re stalled at an airport somewhere, make sure you have access to a power point, because you could well lose hours to this addictive generalknowledge game. Choose one of 600 topics to play against friends or against any of the 25 million other users around the world.


Periscope Free The next frontier in social networking, Periscope takes video sharing one step further and enables you to broadcast video to the world, live. After your broadcast is complete, you can make it available for replay. The potential applications are only as broad as your imagination, really.

Wickr Free Whether you’re a politician, a journalist, or would just rather your texts went undetected, feel like a spy with this app, which enables messaging without any of the metadata that might otherwise identify you. Best of all, you can set a time for your messages to permanently self-destruct.

ooVoo Free It beats us why this app hasn’t yet gone gangbusters in Australia, considering how many of us have friends and relatives on distant shores, because it’s hands down one of the smoothest, most consistently functional video-chat apps you can access. Maybe it’s just not well-known enough yet.


Crooked Compass Free If you’re a fan of travelling off the beaten path, make sure you download this bucket-list builder of jaw-dropping, extraordinary experiences from around the world. Next time you’re heading overseas, check the Crooked Compass to find out what unique, non-touristy things you could see and do.


hotel update Compiled by Helen Hayes


Chicago Go Beyond in Mozambique

And Beyond’s Benguerra Island celebrated its grand reopening on 1 June, 2015, with a USD $5.5 million rebuild transforming the property into one of Mozambique’s premier luxury lodges. Located alongside a deep-water channel, the lodge has a grand new entrance and welcome area that boasts spectacular ocean views. There is a refurbished swimming pool and an elegant dining and cocktail area in the upgraded Dhow Bar on the beach. The casinhas and cabanas have been restyled with classic interiors that reflect the island’s Portuguese heritage. The transformation includes brand new furniture, redesigned bathrooms, large private swimming pools and refreshed beach bandas. The private villa has been converted into the Casa Familia, with three ensuite bedrooms, ideal for families or small groups. With a refreshed dive centre, new diving equipment as well as a new dive boat, guests will enjoy a superlative island experience.

There is something special about a modern, chic hotel being built in the bones of an historic building. In Chicago, there was an historic Venetian Gothic landmark building – the Chicago Athletic Association headquarters. For decades, this iconic building has been silent, but now it has been brought back to life as a classy and elegant establishment. As for the views, guests enjoy commanding views over Millennium Park and the brand new Maggie Daley Park, and Lake Michigan. The Hotel has a terrace and a Games Room designed to amaze and amuse. Then there’s Cindy’s Bar on the rooftop, the jewel in the crown where guests can enjoy a cocktail, or even do a cocktail class.

Outrigger opens new Maldives resort The Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort opens its door on 1 August, 2015, located in the crystal waters of Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll. The Resort comprises of Beach Pool Villas, seven two-bedroom Pool Villas, 21 Ocean Pool Villas and a Presidential Villa. All rooms boast spacious living and sleeping quarters, bathrooms with dual sinks and abundant relaxation areas with outdoor lounges, sun decks, and private swimming pools. Other amenities include outdoor rain showers and soaking bathtubs, while the two bedroom beach pool villas also have private kitchen areas with state-of-the-art equipment. Apart from the many delights of the aquatic wonderland on the doorstep, guests can enjoy the swimming pool, the Navasana Spa and the exquisite culinary offerings at Blue Salt, Nala Rah, Poolside or at The Deck. The Resort will also offer personalised menus for special occasions at various settings around the island or on a private boat. –240–

Book into The Library

Koh Samui has a new shining light, with The Library opening against the seductive backdrop of Chaweng Beach. The beachfront hotel is quite unusual and is based on the premise of a book. Each area represents a blank page for the guests to write their own story. There are 26 suite/studio cabins, with buildings scattered and hidden amongst lush gardens. The hotel’s library is the highlight of the property, with its modern white décor spotted with the coloured spines of its 1300 books, available for guests to borrow or buy. The Page Restaurant is located on the beachfront, the Beach Bar has live acoustic music in the afternoons, and for those who want to read by the pool, there are oversized mattresses on the beachside terrace, right beside the crimson swimming pool. When not reading guests are encouraged to borrow the complimentary kayak and windsurf equipment.

Alba Spa makes a splash in Hue

Vietnam’s imperial capital has a new boutique hotel fit for royalty. Alba Spa Hotel is now open in the heart of Hue with an array of elegant rooms. The chic, 58-room downtown escape offers a large Jacuzzi that is flanked on three sides by lush vertical gardens and partitioned into hot- and cold-water sections. The Jacuzzi is filled with natural mineral water that is heated by volcanic magma and enriched in magnesium, calcium and phosphorus while travelling under the Truong Son Mountain Range. It springs out in a natural cradle 30 kilometres north of Hue, where it is harnessed before being transported to the hotel. The hotel also uses water to nurture the Vietnamese plants and flowers that grow in the organic garden and to enhance the natural skin-care solutions used in the exotic spa treatments.


Fairmont San

Francisco’s new suites

The iconic Fairmont San Francisco has unveiled five stunning specialty suites after a $2 million renovation. The property, which sits pretty atop Nob Hill, renovated its guest rooms and suites last spring, with these new five Specialty Suites serving as the crown jewels – along with the world-famous Penthouse Suite. Each Specialty Suite offers a distinct, San Francisco-inspired aesthetic, and unique amenities for discerning guests. Choose the Cambridge Suite, the Buckingham Balcony Suite, the Napoleon Two Bedroom Suite, the Diplomat Tony Bennett Suite or the Fairmont Presidential Suite – all spectacular classic-meets-contemporary accommodations.

Jetwing’s new addition in

Sri Lanka

The Jetwing family of hotels has a new addition, with the opening of Calamansi Cove by Jetwing, in the fishing village of Balapitiya along the South coast of Sri Lanka. A boutique hotel devoted to complete luxury, Calamansi Cove by Jetwing is a truly tranquil environment, perfect for a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or to simply get away from it all. The resort features 12 private residences overlooking the Indian Ocean, each a combination of contemporary design and modern architecture. As for things to do, the property is accessible for island hopping to Madol Duwa, Kurundu Duwa and Temple Island, can trek at Rumassala, go snorkelling in Bentota or Jungle Beach or can visit the Hiyare or Kottawa rainforests.


in brief Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas Resort is undergoing a $40 million renovation, resulting in a floor-to-ceiling revitalisation of the hotel’s 294 guest rooms. Spectacular suites and swim out rooms will be created, and the Mirage Country Golf Club, main buildings, pools and landscaping will also be refurbished. Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. has announced the debut in South Australia with the signing of Aloft Adelaide. The property will be the third in the Australian market, following Aloft Sydney Pitt Street, slated to open in October 2016, and Aloft Perth Rivervale, set to open early 2017. The Australian Aloft properties will add to the global growth and buzz for the leading-edge brand, with over 100 hotels worldwide since launching in 2008. Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa will expand and update its product offerings for the adult traveller market this winter with the launch of the Waitui Beach Club – a modern, multimillion new-build leisure concept designed exclusively for adults only. The Club will officially launch to the public on 24 July, and will be a dynamic new adults-only area, which boasts its own pool, champagne bar, restaurant and poolside cabanas.

tried & tested

Trump SoHo New York By Anthony Gallagher Trump SoHo New York has been stamping its authority as the place to stay since it opened its doors in 2010. Located on Spring Street in SoHo, close to TriBeCa and the West Village, it is in a vibrant, colourful neighbourhood that makes for great people watching and Instagram photos. The property is 46 floors of shimmering style, from its two-storey conservatory lobby right up to its 46th floor Penthouse Suites. We are in a Premier Suite on the 33rd floor and are continually mesmerised by the views over the sweeping Manhattan skyline. The suite features designer furnishings by Fendi Casa, state-of-the-art amenities and in-room computer and complimentary business cards, upon request. Now that is service. We test out the restaurants and bars of Trump SoHo, enjoying a few beverages on the outdoor pool deck at Bar d’Eau and knocking back a few cocktails in The Library as well as thoroughly enjoying an evening at Koi SoHo, with its imaginative menu of contemporary Japanese cuisine. Will I return? Can’t wait.

Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel at Circular Quay By Summer Brodie When it comes to a prime location, the Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel at Circular Quay is front and centre to the sites and attractions of Sydney. Situated at Circular Quay, the property overlooks Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House, and is steps from the historic Rocks district. We check in to our Opera Suite and we are delighted with the contemporary and vibrant look of the spacious room. We are even more delighted that we can glimpse the Harbour and watch the ferries coming and going. The Suite has a separate living room, always a bonus should someone wish to retire to bed early after all that shopping or sightseeing, with the furnishings all complementing each other and art that brightens up the space. The Hotel has a spa with an impressive array of pampering delights, and as for culinary treats, we thoroughly enjoyed having a cocktail in Customs House Bar, a coffee at Macquarie Lounge and dinner at Icons Brasserie. Then there are the plethora of world-class restaurants within easy walking distance.


InterContinental Nha Trang, Vietnam By Josh Hurst InterContinental Nha Trang is the latest addition to the InterContinental family in Vietnam and sits on a beautiful bay – voted as one of the most beautiful bays in the world. The hotel features 279 guest rooms including 56 luxuriously furnished suites, with all rooms featuring a spacious balcony with a private sitting area. The Hotel is well located close to the area’s many historic and cultural sites. The concierge had many recommendations, including visiting the picturesque Po Nagar Temple, the speciality mud bath in the Thap Ba hot springs, and suggested renting a boat and going out to one of Nha Trang bay’s many small islands for a magical snorkeling or diving experience. The hotel has some excellent dining options, including the main restaurant, Cookbook Café, as well as the Lobby Bar, which serves an upscale snack menu or the poolside Aqualine Bar, for cocktails or light bites. The view from the Aqualine Bar is beautiful, making it a perfect spot to have a few ales or cocktails before dinner.

Capri by Fraser, Brisbane By Buster Travers The new Capri by Fraser, Brisbane wins us over from the moment we check in. It is located in the heart of the CBD so is within walking distance of the Queen Street Mall, Eagle Street Pier and the City Botanical Gardens, which are perfect for an early morning jog or power walk. We stay in a One Bedroom Executive room which is ideal for anyone needing to stay in town for an extended stay. It has separate living, kitchen and bedroom areas giving that all important space. The bathroom has a rainshower, bath and the natural fragrances of Malin + Goetz toiletries. The kitchen has a convection oven, cooktop and that must have accessory – the Nespresso coffee machine. Thankfully, the free WiFi is fast – a big plus in this tech-savvy, send-it-now world. What we love most is the ambience of the property, with colourful art throughout as well as a can-do vibe. The property is designed around today’s 24/7 lifestyle, with the gym open all day and all night. It also has just opened Asana Restaurant with Pete Evans as consultant chef and menu designer and rising star Josh Harris at the helm. Capri by Fraser also has a lovely swimming pool, lively bars, a laundry, a Delite Deli and an e-concierge to help out with any bookings of queries.


The Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort By Daniel Resnik Shangri-La’s five-star Rasa Ria Resort in Sabah is set on 162 sumptuous tropical rainforest hectares and overlooks the South China Sea, with most of its 420 rooms (including 10 suites) having glorious beach views. The new Ocean Wing addition consists of 90 rooms, all with oversized bathtub and daybed on the balcony. The resort has a massive private beach, the Pantia Dalit, or just laze around one of the two large swimming pools. The Rasa Ria has its own 18-hole championship golf course, The Dalit Bay Golf & Country Club which is also where you’ll find the spa. A highlight for me is The Rasa Ria’s nature reserve, which has a petting zoo for the kids and an orangutan rehabilitation centre. Seeing beautiful young orangutans up close was unforgettable. The selection of food from any of the five restaurants is world-class. There is also an option to dine under the stars at one of the resort’s exclusive outdoor gazebos, being served by your own butler.

Hotel Kia Polynesia

Ora Resort & Spa, Rangiroa, French

By Helen Hayes Rangiroa is a natural gem in the Tuamotu Islands, Tahiti, a circular atoll ringing the second largest lagoon in the world. The Hotel Kia Ora Resort & Spa is a five-star property on the lagoon, and our jaws really do hang open when we see it. There are over-water bungalows but we choose a Pool Villa, which offers more privacy and plenty of space. The garden area is large, with the pool the highlight, along with a private undercover sitting area, sun beds, and an outside bath tub tucked away in a corner of the garden. The lagoon has some pockets of coral and plenty of fish, but for the real deal, it is a short boat ride from the Hotel dock to the Aquarium – a natural area with brightly coloured coral and fish that are all colours of the rainbow. We snorkel as long as our friendly boatman will allow. Just around the corner from the Aquarium, the Tiputa Pass is one of the best dive spots in the world, famous for its drift diving and snorkelling, but we are too busy exploring the island on a hired scooter, swimming in the lagoon, and lazing in our pool. At the end of the day, we relax in the Te Miki Miki Bar which is over the water, drinking a Tahitian beer and watching the fish through glass windows in the floor or out over the deck. Magnifique!

Vibe Hotel

Marysville, Victoria By Roderick Eime No one needs reminding of the tragedy of February 2009 when the town of Marysville was all but obliterated in the so-called Black Saturday inferno. New shoots of life are returning all around the valley and none more prominent than the superb Vibe Hotel Marysville, a showcase for the brand, now part of the big TFE Hotels family. The expansive site, once a large hotel and guesthouse, was developed with a healthy portion of recovery money from the government and has been put to good use to create a large convention centre (300 guests), excellent restaurant, spa, pool, gymnasium and 101-room 4.5 star hotel. The rooms are part of the new design concept for the whole Vibe Hotels brand and are superbly appointed with flatscreen TVs (with Foxtel), iPod station and climate-controlled air conditioning. The beds are to die for and the bathrooms are appointed better than many dubiously rated five-star properties. A perfect location to enjoy the many sights of the glorious national parks right on the doorstep and just 90 minutes from Melbourne’s CBD, there is no excuse not to revisit the delightfully rebuilt township of Marysville and the many satellite attractions like the Buxton Trout Farm and Buxton Ridge Winery.


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the last word

Michael Cottan

Executive Vice President Of Shangri-La Hotels, & General Manager, Shangri-La, Sydney

Michael Cottan is a British national and started his career in food and beverage operations. His passion for the hospitality industry has taken him to 12 countries across five continents. He joined Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts in 1993, quickly moving through the ranks. He was actively involved in achieving many of the company’s milestones, including the opening of Shangri-La Hotel, Jakarta in 1994 and the Pudong Shangri-La, Shanghai in 1998. He has managed major Shangri-La hotels in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, and was the General Manger of Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney, from 2003 to 2008, before taking on the role of Executive Vice President for Southeast Asia and Oceania – based in Singapore. Now back in Sydney, Michael is still the Executive Vice President and is also General Manager of this prestigious Sydney property. You’ve been back in Sydney for over a year, what are the biggest changes you’ve noticed? I’ve noticed a lot of development and a lot of cranes around the place, at Barangaroo and Darling Harbour for instance – and more traffic and congestion. It is still a great city – one of the best cities in the world. What do you love most about being back in Sydney? I have been in Asia the past five to six years, so I am certainly loving the Sydney climate. I enjoy the outdoors and Sydney has some of the best walks and outdoor life anyone could hope for in a major city, particularly walks around the Harbour. I also love being back with my –250–

family and at my favourite hotel. Having worked in many countries around Asia, what is your favourite city and why? Sydney is my favourite city but if I look back at Asia, it is hard to compare because it is quite diverse. I enjoyed the period in Shanghai in the late 1990s, because it was growing and changing so fast. In my last years in Singapore, it was amazing to see that city changing and reinventing itself and becoming a significant global player. What is your favourite city to visit food-wise and why? Bangkok in Thailand because I think it is the only place you can really get a good Thai meal. The Salathip restaurant at the Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok that has a menu prepared by Thai Chef Tussanee Putkaew is something spectacular. I am still a great lover of French food and the opportunity to visit a restaurant in Bordeaux and have a glass of great wine with it would never go amiss. As an international hotelier over many years, what’s now the most significant change in the hotel industry? In general, hotels have become more of a business and the role of the General Manager has certainly changed from the role of ‘mine host’ to knowing about how to make returns for the owners and investors, controlling complex labour situations, understanding and dealing with various forms of litigation and other Government issues. And dealing with very complex distribution, marketing and media environments.

Apart from Altitude, what are your top three places to dine around town? I’m often found at Saké in The Rocks, est in the city or Malabar in Darlinghurst for really good Indian. If you have international visitors who haven’t been to Sydney before, what are the top three things you recommend they do? Everything would be on the harbour – the ferry to Manly, it is a lovely ferry ride, then a seaplane up to the Hawkesbury for lunch and climb the Harbour Bridge. When not travelling for work, where do you like to go? I like historical places or places of nature – African safaris, old historical cities like those in Europe or Beijing and its Great Wall, Bagan and the Myanmar temples, Angkor Wat. If you could go anywhere and do anything, what would you do? Cruise in the Arctic or visit Tibet. Should you ever want to retire, what would you regard as your biggest achievement and why? If you are a small town kid who grew up in a hotel and worked his way up to executive level in a hotel, that is a great personal achievement and having run some of the top hotels in the world. But maybe more than that is the people I have helped along the way and who have gone on to become something. They are the greatest achievements.

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