Wednesday, 28 September 2016


Fans are invited to join a special welcome home celebration for Australia’s Paralympians in Sydney next month.

The Team touched down at Sydney Airport yesterday fresh from their top five medal finish at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

NSW Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres encouraged members of the public to come down in green and gold to congratulate the superstars on their achievements.

“Athletes in the Australian Paralympic Team have broken four world records and achieved an overall 81 medals, deserving nothing short of a heroes’ welcome back to Australia,” Mr Ayres said.

“City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore and I will host a special celebration to welcome home 50 of our Paralympic champions on Tuesday 4 October from 12.30pm at Martin Place.”

Fans can register for the event via Facebook.

Palace Museum Transforming Exhibition Layout

Palace Museum in Beijing
The Palace Museum in Beijing recently announced plans to transform its exhibition layout over the next four years. The western pathway from Duanhong Bridge to the icehouse will be open on September 29, while the royal icehouse, Imperial Kitchen (Yu Shan Fang), and Yuqing Gong, where the crown prince lived, will open later.

During this year’s National Day holiday, visitors will be able to choose from a larger selection of tour routes. The Palace Museum will open three more routes before the end of the year. The west side pathway can directly lead to the royal icehouse, which can accommodate 400 people dining at one time, and a platform to view the Jiangshan mountain from afar also will be opened. The new pathways will increase the opening area; meanwhile, other portions of the museum will receive repairs and renovations.

Aurora Expeditions Celebrates 30 Years of the Kimberley’s Wilderness Couple

Celebration will be in the air aboard Aurora Expeditions' Kimberley Coast voyages in 2017 as they mark the 30th anniversary of legendary Kimberley adventurer Mike Cusack’s ‘Year in the Wilderness’. Over four exclusive voyages, travellers will have the chance to join Mike in celebrating 30 years since he and his wife Susan spent 12 months living in the isolated west Kimberley.

Known as the ‘Wilderness Couple’, Mike and Susan were selected from over 500 couples in 1987 for the ambitious social experiment developed by Aussie adventurer Dick Smith to see if a modern urban couple could survive in the harsh extremes of Australia’s outback. They organised their own transport and supplies and headed off on an adventure that would change their lives forever.

Although the couple encountered extreme conditions, Mike remembers his time in the west Kimberley fondly. “Our year in the Kimberley wilderness was tough. We experienced one of the driest wet seasons in 30 years, dealt with bush fire and had to make daily treks to keep our water supplies full. But as hard as it was, the Kimberley is one of the most beautiful and special places in the world. Looking back 30 years on, both Susan and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.“

Mike will return to the Kimberley Coast for his 20th season as Aurora Expeditions' expedition leader in 2017. He will be sharing his Year in the Wildernessstory as well as offering passengers the unique chance to walk in the footsteps of the 'Wilderness Couple' on the 11-km rock-hopping trek back to Kunmunya’s abandoned Presbyterian Mission where the couple set up their camp during their Year in the Wilderness.

Travelling aboard the 42-passenger Coral Expeditions I, each intimate journey will travel between
Broome and Darwin and feature daily excursions and shore landings to some of the region’s most spectacular sites including ancient Wandjina and Gwion Gwion rock paintings on Bigge Island or Swift Bay, the powerful Horizontal Waterfalls and Western Australia’s highest falls, King George Falls.

Aurora Expeditions’ 11-day Kimberley Coast voyages depart Broome on 12 June and 3 July 2017, and Darwin on 2 and 23 June 2017. Each voyage includes accommodation and meals on board Coral Expeditions I, all shore excursions, educational lectures and guiding services.

EXCLUSIVE PACKAGE OFFER – Partners Fly Free to the Kimberley!
To celebrate the 30-year anniversary of the Wilderness Couple, Aurora Expeditions have launched an exclusive ‘Partners Fly Free’ package for their 2017 Kimberley expeditions. Simply book the package including the 11-day Kimberley cruise, return flights, accommodation and transfers before 31 October 2016 and partners will receive free flights – a saving of up to $890 per couple.

Package price starts from $9,465 for the first person, with the ‘partner’ price starting at $8,845 per person. Conditions apply.

For more information on Aurora Expeditions’ 2017 Kimberley cruises visit, email or call 1300 061 490.

Watch Aurora Expeditions' New Kimberley Videos: from Mike Cusack’s ‘Year in the Wilderness’ to wildlife and waterfalls, watch Aurora Expeditions’ new series of Kimberley Coast videos and find out all you need to know about travelling on Aurora Expeditions’ Kimberley Coast adventures! Click here to watch videos.

Fifth Asian Beach Games kicks off in Da Nang City

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc declared the opening of the fifth Asian Beach Games (ABG5) at a ceremony at the Bien Dong Park Square in the central city of Da Nang on September 24 night.

The opening ceremony saw the participation of about 4,600 coaches and athletes from 45 countries and territories worldwide, who are competing in 14 sports with 22 events for 165 medal sets. Nearly 400 reporters, including about 170 foreign journalists, were also present to cover the event.

As one of the largest sports events in Asia, ABG was initiated by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and is held every two years with the first edition in Bali, Indonesia, in 2008.

Themed “Shining Sea, Bright Future,” ABG5 aims to introduce Viet Nam to international friends as a beautiful, hospitable and united nation which is looking towards a bright future.

Addressing the ceremony, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien, who is also head of the ABG5 Steering Committee, affirmed that thanks to efforts of the Da Nang authorities and relevant ministries and agencies, preparations for the event have been completed.

The most awaited part of the opening ceremony was an impressive procession of the Games torch. Five local fishermen brought the torch from the sea to the shore and handed over it to five outstanding Vietnamese athletes, including Hoang Xuan Vinh, who won one gold and one silver at the Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

On the night, participants were also entertained with an art programme highlighting the special culture of Viet Nam and Da Nang city in particular, as well as Vietnamese’s desire for a peaceful and hospitable Asia.

The Vietnamese athletes will show off their skills at all sports, aiming to be among the top of the tournament. The country ranked fourth with eight gold, 12 silver and 20 bronze medals in the fourth Asian Beach Games, which took place in Phuket, Thailand in 2014.

The event offers an opportunity for Viet Nam to develop beach games while helping Da Nang City promote its tourism.

Up to 3,000 hotel rooms in Da Nang are available for participating officials and athletes. Besides, the locality has organised various cultural and culinary festivals, along with launching special tours on this occasion.

The closing ceremony is scheduled for October 3.

Sydney Olympic Park is a great place to cycle

Discover over 35km of safe cycling pathways and see Olympic icons, spectacular parklands and areas of cultural heritage along the way.
  • Bring your own bikes to enjoy this family-friendly activity for free, or hire a bike 7 days a week (Bike hire 02 9746 1572)
  • Discover our hidden gems including lookouts, bird hides, wildlife refuges, mangrove boardwalks, shipwrecks and outdoor art.
  • Choose from 3 great Bike Safari Circuits (for ages 5+) depending on riding ability and what you would like to see.
  • Enjoy child-friendly cycleways including the Children’s Loop in Bicentennial Park.
  • Find out the best way to get to the Park by bike.
  • enjoy fun pit-stops and facilities including playgrounds, picnic areas, bubblers and toilets.

See our map for suggested cycling routes or download the Bike Safari Map (PDF 4MB)

Racing cyclist lanes

Sydney Olympic Park offers a network of quality on-road cycle lanes for race training, on smooth surfaced roads with low traffic (outside event times). All cycle lanes are well marked and signposted to Australian Standards.

BMX and Mountain X Monster Tracks bike tracks

BMX and Mountain X riders perfect their downhill dirt skills on the Monster BMX and Mountain X track, located between the Archery Centre and P5 Car Park on Hill Road.

Safe bike riding tips

  • Pathways are there to share but pedestrians always have right of way
  • No faster than 20 kph for cyclists on shared pathways
  • Keep to the left so others can pass safely
  • Use your bell to announce your presence especially when approaching from behind
  • Look both ways when crossing roads. Practice your traffic safety skills
  • It’s the law to always wear a helmet
  • Stay on marked pathways. Don't cycle on gravel paths in Narawang Wetlands or on timber boardwalks
  • Help keep frogs, turtles and other wildlife safe by shutting all exclusion gates behind you
  • Respect your Park by leaving the plants and wildlife undisturbed for everyone to enjoy

Dresden. Wine, Women and Song

A delight for the eyes, ears and palate: Dresden and its surroundings are a treat for all the senses. The 55-km Saxon Wine Route, is an especially charming itinerary for tours – and the trail will be celebrating its 25th anniversary next year.

This popular route goes from Pirna to Dresden, Radebeul and Meissen, on to the idyllic wine-growing villages on the Elbe around Diesbar-Seußlitz. Cultural and historical sights blend harmoniously with the attractive countryside on which wine production has left its marks for the last 850 years. With some 460 hectares of vineyards, Saxony's wine-growing area is one of the smallest separate vinicultural sites in Germany. The region's wines are a particular treat in the late summer and autumn during the many events held then.


  • The Federweisser Festival of new wine in Haus Steinbach in Radebeul (1–3 October) or the wine festivals in Altkötzschenbroda and Meißen (23–25 September) are a wine gourmet's dream come true.
  • Would you like to see the magnificent ancient goblets from which Augustus the Strong once drank his wine? At the Historic Green Vault in Dresden's Residenzschloss (Royal Palace), these and other precious objects are on display from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day except Tuesdays. To mark the 10th anniversary of its re-opening, the museum also has an attractive offer for visitors from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays at the special price of just 15 euros for both the Historic and New Green Vaults, including a guided tour!
  • The Dresden Museums Night from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. on 17 September offers another chance to set off in search of wine, women and song. The Sculpture Collection contains statues representing Dionysus, the god of wine; the Old Masters Picture Gallery presents pieces such as Titian's “Sleeping Venus”, one of the loveliest women in the world, and the new permanent exhibition“Concept and Encounter: The World around 1600” in the Royal Palace features historical musical instruments, along with many other exhibits.
  • Still an insider tip: the newly opened restaurant felix allows you to enjoy a glass of wine above the roofs of Dresden with an exclusive view of the Zwinger. The felix is designed to combine a smart location for events with a lounge and a bar – in an ideal location in the Lebendiges Haus, where people can live, work, shop, eat and drink all in one place.

For our bimonthly newsletter, please subscribe at

Christoph Münch, MA
International Media Relations / Marketing Manager International Markets
Dresden Marketing GmbH
Messering 7 01067 Dresden
Christoph.Muench@marketing.dresden.dePhone: +49 351 - 50173 - 135 Fax: +49 351 - 50173 - 137

Spring blooms in the Dandenong Ranges

National Rhododendron Garden

There’s so much to see this Spring as the great gardens of the Dandenong Ranges burst into colour with a spectacular display of flowers and lush foliage.

There are seven great gardens in the Dandenong Ranges managed by Parks Victoria and each garden features a distinctive gardening focus set amongst the picturesque hills and views of the Dandenong Ranges.

“Visitors come from far and wide to see spectacular floral displays and the incredible setting of our gardens here in the Dandenong Ranges,” said Parks Victoria Area Chief Ranger Helen Woodlock.

The Dandenong Ranges Gardens are less than an hour’s drive from the Melbourne CBD and a favourite destination for Melburnians and visitors from all over the world.

“We know from research that time spent in parks is good for our physical, mental, social and spiritual health. This is at the heart of our Healthy Parks, Healthy People approach to managing Victoria’s parks to ensure that everyone can benefit from time spent in nature and especially in spectacular parks like our Dandenong Ranges Gardens.”

For more information about the link between nature and human health, go to or ‘like’ Healthy Parks Healthy People Central on Facebook.

For more information on the Dandenong Ranges Gardens call the Parks Victoria Information Centre on 13 1963 or visit

National Rhododendron Garden

An extensive display of spectacular rhododendrons are in bloom until November. Expect to see the last of the daffodils and cherry blossoms towards the end of September or grab a ride on the Garden Explorer available from Tuesday to Friday to see the whole garden (bookings for groups are recommended). Café Vireya is open for light lunches and morning teas and you can pick up a gift in the gift shop or buy a plant to take home from the nursery.

Free entry
Open daily 10.00am to 4:30pm. Café Vireya is open daily until early November.
The Georgian Rd, Olinda

George Tindale Gardens

The George Tindale Gardens are filled with colourful camellias, magnolias, rhododendrons and a large hydrangea collection. The flowering bulbs in the rock garden are also delightful set against a backdrop of Mountain Ash trees.

Free entry
Open daily 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
33 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke

Pirianda Gardens

The Pirianda Gardens feature a beautiful woodland garden which is currently blooming with magnolias, dogwoods and dove-trees. It’s also a great location for birdwatching, photography, landscape painting and picnics on the large open lawns.

Free entry
Open daily 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
9 Hacketts Rd, Olinda

Alfred Nicholas Memorial Garden

The Alfred Nicolas Memorial Garden is flowering with beautiful camellias, magnolias and an early show of rhododendrons. The walk to the beautiful ornamental lake and islands is a favourite with photographers and visitors for its tranquility and picturesque scenery and there is a waterfall at the lake and ponds.

Free entry
Open daily 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
1A Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke

William Ricketts Sanctuary

William Ricketts Sanctuary is a unique outdoor art gallery and culturally significant forest style garden featuring more than 90 sculptures by artist and environmentalist William Ricketts and cradled in dense greenery. Many visitors describe the sanctuary as a profoundly peaceful and sometimes spiritual experience.

Free entry
Open daily 10:00am to 4:30pm
1402 Mount Dandenong Tourist Rd, Mount Dandenong

R.J. Hamer Arboretum

Enjoy walking through the park which will continue to fill up with bright vegetation over the next few months. Take time to observe the stunning scenery across the Yarra Valley and out towards the Warburton Ranges.

R.J. Hamer Arboretum provides a wonderful area for recreation or relaxation. Visitors can enjoy the magnificent views, a traditional Australian barbecue or a walk along one of the trails.

Free entry
Open daily
26 Chalet Rd, Olinda

Mount Dandenong Arboretum

Extending over 16 hectares, Mount Dandenong Arboretum has an emphasis on trees and features a plethora of conifers and deciduous trees which are considered nationally significant. It’s the perfect place for large picnics with family and friends in the meadows which overlook the Great Dividing Range.

Free entry
Open daily
52 Ridge Rd, Mount Dandenong

Novotel Phuket Phokeethra Opens Doors to Island's Colourful History

Novotel Phuket Phokeethra is AccorHotels' homage to the historic heart of this resort island. Situated close to the old quarter with its ancient architecture, Buddhist temples and Taoist shrines, the hotel offers inquisitive travellers an opportunity to immerse themselves in a time when prosperity first arrived on the island – not from tourists, but from the settlers who came from the Arabian Peninsula, China, India and Portugal, leaving behind a stunning heritage and blend of architecture.

This is Phuket beyond the beach, where the curious can meander down charming streets lined with well-preserved Sino-Portuguese shophouses and mansions, many of which have been repurposed as boutiques and fabric shops, galleries, coffee shops and restaurants. Foodies can embark on a culinary journey at the bustling markets, street stalls and shophouse restaurants that offer distinctive local flavours, or discover the town's fascinating past by exploring Dibuk, Thalang, Phang Nga, Yaowarat and Krabi roads by foot.

The midscale Novotel brand offers travellers an 'easy-living experience' with spacious and modular rooms and stand-out meeting facilities with a commitment to guest wellbeing. Patrick Basset, Chief Operating Officer of AccorHotels Upper Southeast and Northeast Asia, says, “Novotel Phuket Phokeethra showcases the brand's new eNergize identity with a collection of rejuvenating wellness facilities that sets a new benchmark under the Novotel brand. The hotel's location in historic Phuket Old Town offers guests travelling to the ever-popular island an opportunity to experience a colourful side of one of Thailand's oldest cities”

Featuring 180 spacious rooms and suites with city, mountain and bay views, the hotel's stylish rooms offer premium bathroom amenities, LCD TVs, and complimentary Wi-Fi and minibars. For wellness, fitness and relaxation, the hotel has a spa, gym and an indoor pool.

An elegant counterpoint to the abundant street fare outside the hotel, the all-day dining restaurant, AMOR, serves delicious local and international cuisine, and the Sino-Portuguese-inspired Estrela Sky Lounge offers breathtakingly panoramic views of the city, the bay and the mountains, while the chic lobby lounge, LUA, is an inviting rendezvous point.

For meetings, events and conferences, the hotel can accommodate up to 850 guests in its state-of-the-art Grand Ballroom with vaulted ceilings and offers four additional meeting rooms.

With more than 30 beaches on the island, guests will never be far from the sea – Patong Beach, Kata Beach and Karon Beach are just a short ride from the hotel. A five-minute drive to Thalang Road and Promthep Clock Tower in Phuket Old Town and 40 minutes from Phuket International Airport, the hotel is located at 40 Chanajaroen Road, Tambol Talad Yai, Amphur Muang Phuket.

From October 1st to November 30st, 2016, guests can enjoy a two-night stay at Novotel Phuket Phokeethra from THB 3,450++ per night inclusive of a THB 1,000 credit that can be used on dining or spa treatments.

For reservations please e-mail, call +66 (0) 76-397-777, or visit for more information.

The Brandman Agency Named U.S. Public Relations Agency of Record for Visit Victoria

The Brandman Agency is pleased to announce Visit Victoria as the newest destination addition to its worldwide luxury travel and lifestyle portfolio. Victoria's tourism and events company, Visit Victoria is responsible for marketing to visitors globally, across Australia and from within the State. Home to world-class events, unparalleled nature experiences, and Melbourne, voted the “World's Most Livable City” for the sixth-straight year, Victoria continues to see consistent growth in visitor expenditure.

As Australia's fastest growing city, Melbourne is renowned for its superb restaurants, café culture, theatre, diverse art and cultural offerings, and is a gateway to unique nature based experiences. Known as the events capital of Australia, Melbourne hosts a year-round calendar of outstanding international events including the Australian Open Tennis (Grand Slam of the Asia Pacific), Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, Spring Racing Carnival (Melbourne Cup) and the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival. The city has also recently been chosen as the second international host of the World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards, coming to Melbourne in 2017.

Victoria's compact size allows ease of travel for visitors, with a diversity of authentic Australian experiences all within close proximity to Melbourne, including wineries, regional gourmet experiences and spectacular wildlife and natural attractions. “The Penguin Parade” at Phillip Island, the Yarra Valley wine region, the Great Ocean Road, outdoor adventure and walking trails in the Grampians, and the iconic colorful beach boxes of the Mornington Peninsula, all continue to attract visitors year after year.

“I could not be more thrilled to be working with Visit Victoria,” says Melanie Brandman, Founder and CEO of The Brandman Agency. “As an eighth generation Australian, I am both honored and humbled that The Brandman Agency has been chosen as Visit Victoria's strategic partner in the U.S. As a former resident of Melbourne, I was always so enthralled by the cultural and culinary diversity of the city and I look forward to elevating market awareness by illustrating all of the amazing experiences the state of Victoria has to offer.”

“We are incredibly excited to be working with Melanie and her team at The Brandman Agency,” said Susan Brown, Regional Manager, Visit Victoria North America. “I am confident that with the Agency's strong media contacts, deep understanding of the market, innovative approach, and passion for the region, we will continue to elevate and reinforce Victoria's reputation as a world-class destination.”

The United States is currently Australia's fourth largest inbound market based on visitor arrivals, and third largest market when ranked on total expenditure. Annual arrivals from the U.S. exceeded 600,000 for the first time in the 2015 calendar year, and expenditure grew at an increasingly rapid rate to a new all-time high. Between 2010 and 2015, U.S. overnight visitation to Victoria increased at an average annual rate of 8.0%, ahead of the national average.

For more information on travel to Victoria, visit:

About Visit Victoria

Visit Victoria is the principal tourism and events company for Victoria, Australia. The organization is dedicated to growing Victoria's visitor economy by marketing to visitors from within the state, across Australia and around the world, and attracting sporting, cultural and business events for the state's world-class events calendar.

About The Brandman Agency

Founded in 2001 by Melanie Brandman, The Brandman Agency represents some of the world's most prestigious luxury travel brands and destinations including FRHI Hotels & Resorts, the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, and Barbados Tourism Marketing, Inc. Visit The Brandman Agency at

Tuesday, 27 September 2016


Jumpsuits are being dry cleaned and rhinestones polished as more than 22,000 people prepare to shake, rattle and roll their way to the Regional NSW town of Parkes for next year’s Elvis extravaganza.

The 2017 Parkes Elvis Festival program is jam-packed with more than 120 events, including the headline Feature Concert Series, Elvis Gospel Service, the Northparkes Mines Street Parade and much more.

The theme for the 2017 event is inspired by the 1964 Elvis film Viva Las Vegas, with hot rods, neon lights, and feathered showgirls set to transform Parkes into a glittering paradise to celebrate the Festival’s 25th year.

Festival Director Cathy Treasure said “To have reached 25 years is a huge achievement for the Festival. The entire Parkes community has supported this event from the very beginning, helping us grow the Festival into the leading celebration of the life of Elvis Presley in Australia.”

NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres said the 2016 Parkes Elvis Festival attracted more than 13,000 overnight visitors, who contributed more than $9.3 million to the local visitor economy.

“As one of the most popular and unique events in Regional NSW, the Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW, is proud to support the Parkes Elvis Festival. I encourage everyone to start planning their trip to the region for the special 25th birthday celebration which promises to be a standout on the NSW Events Calendar,” Mr Ayres said.

The Parkes Elvis Festival will be held from 11-15 January 2017, with tickets now on sale.