Thursday, 31 July 2014

Cairns & GBR showcases event success

Business Events Cairns & Great Barrier Reef used their members’ favourite recipes to showcase local produce in a recipe book created especially for conference organisers attending their southern roadshow.

Director Rosie Douglas said the Business Events team and a record 19 members attended the Regional Showcase hosting lunches in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne on July 22-25.

“The three events gave us unparalleled access to 120 event planners, corporate clients and trade media,” she said.

“We focused on tropical produce in line with Tourism Australia’s new Restaurant Australia program and our gift of the recipe book was a huge hit with the people we met.

“Another first for the Roadshow was promoting the Cairns & Great Barrier Reef’s event calendar as an added incentive for the timing of business events in our region.

“The Cairns Amateurs Carnival was highlighted with a mock horse race staged at each event.

“Guests were asked questions about the business capability of Cairns & Great Barrier Reef with those answering correctly moving forward in the race to win the prize of Myer voucher.

“The quiz also gave us the opportunity to educate our guests about the region in an entertaining way.

“We were pleased to learn most people were aware of the Cairns Convention Centre being awarded 2014 World’s Best Congress Centre just last month.

“Hosting the G20 Finance Ministers’ Meeting in September will focus more attention on Cairns and the Regional Showcase afforded us the opportunity to highlight why the destination was chosen for such a prestigious event.”

Photo: Quicksilver Group’s Megan Bell looks at the Tropical Recipe for Event Success book with Karen Turner from the Cairns Convention Centre and Natalie Johnson from Flames of the Forest.

POACHER'S WAY ONLINE MAGAZINE

The Poacher’s Way collective of businesses in the region surrounding Canberra has launched the first edition of its new online magazine, including stories about some of the artists, chefs, winemakers and hosts that call Poacher’s Way home.

The free magazine includes holiday ideas, latest wine releases and delicious recipes to inspire visitors to explore the region.

The magazine is available online now.

LORD HOWE ISLAND SEARCHES FOR STAR VIDEOGRAPHER

Pinetrees Lodge on Lord Howe Island is searching for a talented videographer to spend two months experiencing everything the Island has to offer, while producing a series of short video clips to share their island adventure via social media.

Pinetrees Lodge is the oldest hotel on Lord Howe Island, and one of the oldest family businesses in Australia. A typical day at Pinetrees may include snorkelling on the world’s southernmost coral reef, surfing perfect waves, catching 20 kilogram kingfish, cooking a BBQ, or just relaxing on the beach. Visitors can also head inland to climb dramatic mountains and explore the beautiful rainforest, all before enjoying sunset drinks on the Pinetrees waterfront deck and exceptional four course dinners.

Pinetrees Lodge also holds event weeks where visitors can learn from inspiring presenters such as celebrity chefs Peter Kuruvita, Tom Kime and Steve Snow, Miranda Kerrʼs yoga instructor Charlotte Dodson, or former World Ironman Champion Trevor Hendy.

Luke Hanson, owner of Pinetrees Lodge said, “We don’t need cheesy hard sell ads. The activities on Lord Howe are all world class, and just capturing people enjoying their time snorkelling, surfing, fishing, climbing, biking, kayaking, diving, golfing or walking on the beach with rare sea birds should speak for itself. The film clips are about sharing the experience.”

The successful videographer applicant must be available to travel to Lord Howe on 30 August 2014 and return to Sydney on 2 November 2014. The cost of flights between Sydney and Lord Howe Island at the start and end of the project will be covered, and all Lord Howe activities, accommodation and meals will be provided free of charge. The applicant will also be paid as an employee of Pinetrees Lodge.

Applications close on 31 July 2014 and the successful applicant will be announced on 11 August 2014. For further information, please visit the Pinetrees Lodge website.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

SYDNEY INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW - OPENS TOMORROW

The Sydney International Boat Show opens to the public at 10AM tomorrow (Thursday), simultaneously launching at dual venues at Darling Harbour and at the Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island. Both venues are filled to capacity with everything the Australian ‘boatie’ could wish for.

At Darling Harbour, the purpose built marina is currently home to more than 150 of the most prestigious and exciting vessels available today. Many on display are being seen for the first time in the Southern Hemisphere.

At the Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island, exhibitors are making good use of this new facility, packed full of new products and marine innovations spread across the 24,800 square metre location.

Visitors heading for the show can purchase tickets online, at Darling Harbour or at the Exhibition Centre. A free ferry service is available for transport to and from the Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island, and free shuttle buses operate from Central to the Sydney Exhibition Centre all day. Parking at Glebe Island is available but must be pre-booked via the show’s website

As well as seeing all the latest and greatest from the world of boating, visitors can also enter the free draw for $7,800 worth of boat storage being given away everyday of the show. There’s also a fund raising raffle for sailors with disabilities, the prize being a Hanse 345 yacht that comes ready to sail with 12 months Club Marine insurance, a total prize value over $250,000.

The Sydney International Boat Show runs through until Monday, with more than 60,000 people expected to attend.

The following tickets are available:
$ 21.00 - Adults (18 years and over)
$ 49.00 - Family (2 Adults & 3 Children, 6-17 years)
$ 13.00 - Children (6-17 years. Free entry 5 years and under)
$ 30.00 - 2-day Guest Pass (18 years and over)
$ 40.00 - 3-day Guest Pass (18 years and over)
$ 15.00 - Aged Pensioners (Must show valid pension card)
$ 19.00 - Seniors (Must show valid seniors card)

Show tickets and Glebe Island parking can be purchased online at www.sydneyboatshow.com.au where a downloadable transport guide is available to help visitors plan their day.

The Sydney International Boat Show is organised by the Boating Industry Association and supported by its Partner in Safety, Transport for NSW.

MOBILE INDOOR LAWN BOWLS GREEN READY TO ROLL RECORD

Guided holiday company AAT Kings has created the world’s first indoor lawn bowls green, in conjunction with Bowls Australia, Grassman and Scania.

The specially fitted coach is set to roll around the country, and will attempt a Guinness World Record for the ‘longest marathon playing indoor bowls’.

The luxury vehicle has had its interior stripped, and almost all seats removed, to make way for a state-of-the-art lawn bowls green. The newly decked AAT Kings coach will bowl through several regional towns and metropolitan cities during July and August, inviting the public to climb aboard and get involved.

There’s plenty of fun to be had at each stop, with a $100 discount voucher given to every person who has a bowl and holiday offers up for grabs.

A full list of dates, times and locations can be found at www.aatkings.com/mobile-lawn-bowls. The mobile indoor lawn bowls green will then return to Sydney in late August where it will attempt the Guinness World Record.

DESTINATION NSW PARTNERS WITH HOTELCLUB TO SHOWCASE SYDNEY'S WINTER GEMS

For the first time, the NSW Government's tourism and major events agency Destination NSW has partnered with HotelClub, an online travel booking community of 1.2 million members, to promote travel to Sydney this winter.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Tourism and Major Events Andrew Stoner, said the digital campaign features new video content of Sydney, hosted by architect and Channel Seven's House Rules judge Joe Snell.

“Mr Snell gives the viewer a local's insight into 'Sydney by day' and 'Sydney by night' showing that there is much more to see and do in Sydney than just visiting the renowned icons and also to encourage repeat visitation,” Mr Stoner said.

In addition to bespoke video content, HotelClub will also run a fully integrated, cross platform digital media campaign designed to educate, engage and influence its highly loyal travel savvy members. HotelClub has a successful record of destination campaigns with its members, but this is the first time they have produced such unique content for a tourism organisation.

“Sydney is Australia's global city and one of the world's most exciting and desirable destinations. This campaign will encourage HotelClub members to visit Sydney during the winter months,” Mr Stoner said.

Stuart Stacy, Director of Partner Marketing at Orbitz Worldwide, the parent company of HotelClub, said: “Research indicates 63 per cent of leisure travellers use video to inform their choice on 'where to next' and it also plays an integral part in itinerary planning with 65 per cent watching video content to plan their stay.”

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase said the partnership had been executed as part of Destination NSW's 'Love Every Second' of Sydney in Winter campaign.

“The seasonal 'Love Every Second' of Winter and Summer campaigns continue to deliver exceptional results, and for the winter 2013 campaign contributed more than 1.67 million visits to the Sydney.com website and more than 327,500 sales leads to the tourism industry,” Ms Chipchase said.

“Winter in Sydney is a specular time to visit and to explore the great outdoors and many attractions for the whole family to enjoy.”

The HotelClub digital campaign is in market until 8 August 2014. To view the campaign visit www.hotelclub.com/p/Sydney-Offer or for more information on what's on in Sydney go to Sydney.com

WAGGA WAGGA TO HOST NEXT EASTERN UNIVERSITY GAMES

Wagga Wagga has been announced as the host city for the 2015 Eastern University Games, as the successful event wrapped up for another year in Newcastle.

The Eastern University Games is the key event for Australian University Sport’s eastern region, comprising a multi-sport competition between universities in NSW and ACT. Participants take part in up to 20 different sports including football, hockey and tennis.

Member for Wagga Wagga Daryl Maguire welcomed the announcement, saying Wagga Wagga’s excellent track record for hosting major sporting events made it the perfect location for the Games.

“I am delighted by the announcement that Wagga Wagga will host the 2015 Eastern University Games. This event was secured for the State by the NSW Government for three years from 2014 to 2016,” Mr Maguire said.

“We look forward to welcoming the students and spectators to NSW’s largest regional city, Wagga Wagga, which is home to fantastic sporting facilities. We’re confident visitors will have a wonderful time on and off the field.

“The Games will help boost the local economy, bringing around 3,000 visitors from outside the region.

“It is estimated that the 2014 and 2015 Eastern University Games will together generate around $3.5 million in visitor expenditure for the NSW economy,” he said.

The 2015 Eastern University Games is expected to include AFL 9s, basketball, football, futsal, golf singles, hockey, indoor cricket, lawn bowls, netball, oztag, squash singles, tennis singles, tenpin bowling, touch, ultimate (frisbee) and volleyball.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The charming historic Hughenden Boutique Hotel

Hughenden Boutique Hotel
The Hughenden Boutique Hotel is a unique place to stay when visiting Sydney. I discovered this for myself on a recenly when I was fortunate to be a guest in one of the Deluxe King Rooms.

The Hughenden Boutique Hotel has a long and varied history. It was built as a gracious private home in the 1870s by Dr Frederick Harrison Quaife, the son Barzillai Quaife, Australia’s first philosopher and Professor of Divinity. Frederick brought the first x-ray machine to the colony, and his initials can still be seen etched in Lombardic script above the front door of the Hughenden. It then was used as a Masonic Hall, nurses’ home, dance hall, The Riviere College for young ladies and lodgings. After falling into disrepair, the Gervay family restored The Hughenden in the 1990’s as a boutique hotel.

Lounge at Hughenden Hotel
Staying in such a historic building makes being a guest of The Hughenden so special. Original features, such as the grand staircase, servant’s bells, chandeliers and black marble fireplaces, ooze the essence of the past.

Many artworks, award-winning illustrations, paintings, drawings and pictures are on the walls and memorabilia are on display throughout The Hughenden Hotel. The Hughenden is renowned for its arts, heritage, community and hospitality.

There are 36 Heritage rooms within the main hotel building and 8 self-contained Terrace Suites. The good thing about the Hughenden is that each room is slightly different to each other and each has its own individual character.

Deluxe King Room
I stayed in one of the recently refurbished Deluxe King Rooms on the first floor. This room combined heritage features with modern conveniences. I liked the room’s antique furniture, original artwork, writing desk, marble mantelpiece, and sofa. The room was spacious, with a high ceiling and a large window with luscious drapes. I imagined myself as Lord of the Manor.

The king sized bed was very comfortable to sleep on, and had an abundance of seven pillow to choose from. The room had an air- conditioner that I could adjust as well as an overhead fan, a wide-screen LCD-TV, alarm clock and Wi-Fi internet. The small fridge and tea and coffee making facilities were appreciated.

The modern ensuite had a claw foot bath-tub and shower. The fluffy towels and Appelles Apothecary & Lab soap, hair shampoo & conditioner, vitamin B skin lotion and comfrey hand & body lotion were a nice touch.

My room was amazingly quite. There was no traffic noise and no noise from other parts of the hotel. On the Monday morning I slept in till 9am! I can only do this in quite rooms that I feel comfortable and at home in.

Vincent at the Hughenden Hotel 
Each morning I enjoyed the complimentary buffet breakfast served each morning in Vincent, the French-style brasserie. There were various hot options, such as eggs, bacon, mushrooms and tomato which varied each day, fresh fruit, croissants, pastries, cereals, yoghurt, breads and toast, muesli, tea and coffee and a selection of juices. These were constantly refreshed. The Vincent is open to the general public for lunch and dinner.

The Hughenden Boutique Hotel is located in Queen Street, Woollahra, close to Paddington and the CBD of Sydney. Queen Street was originally known as Piper Street, but had a name change in the 1870’s in honour of Queen Victoria.

Children's book illustrations
I chose to stay at the Hughenden as it is a short walk to the nearby Royal Hall of Industries in Moore Park where I was attending an Expo on the Saturday. (This Hall is the well known Showbag Pavilion at the old Sydney Showground.)

It is also in walking distance to the Sydney Cricket Ground, Allianz Stadium and the Hordern Pavilion & Entertainment Quarter at Moore Park. If I had more time I would have explored the huge Centennial Parklands that were opened in 1888 and are diagonally across the road from The Hughenden. There are walking paths, scenic ponds and even horse riding available.

The Hughenden is just around the corner from bus stops that go to Central Railway Station, Circular Quay, or Bondi Junction & Bondi Beach. It is surrounded by designer fashion boutiques, restaurants and cafes.

Paddington Reservoir Garden
On the Sunday morning I went for a stroll around Paddington and discovered the Paddington Reservoir Gardens, charming terrace houses, historic pubs & churches, delicious bakeries and tempting antique shops. (I had missed the famous Paddington Markets which are held every Saturday.)

On the Monday morning I explored Woollahra on foot and found many interesting cafes and grand homes, including one in Queen Street that Dame Joan Sutherland once lived in and is currently being restored.

There are several packages that can be taken advantage of at The Hughenden.
  • They have a Dinner, Bed & Breakfast package which includes one night in a deluxe suite, dinner for 2 at Vincents, breakfast for 2 and a late check-out. (Bookings are required – phone 02 9363 4863.) 
  • A High Afternoon Tea is served in the Vincent every Sunday afternoon from 2-5pm. You can settle into the Victorian lounge and while away the afternoon enjoying a selection of delicious treats specially designed by the Vincent team. (Bookings are required – phone 02 8039 1500.) 
  • The Pampered Pooch Package includes accommodation for 2 in a pet-friendly guest room, secure onsite parking, special basket of treats for your dog, and your choice of a 1 hour walk with a professional dog walker or 2 hours pet sitting courtesy of Happy Pets. (Bookings are required – phone 02 9363 4863.) 

The Hughenden Boutique Hotel is a lovely place to stay when visiting Sydney. It has a special charm about it that is can only be found in this grand Victorian heritage building. The antique furnsihings and decor of the lounge and reading rooms made them inviting, warm and cosy. It was more more like staying in a large home than a hotel. I particularly liked the friendliness of the reception, breakfast and cleaning staff members, the location of the hotel in such a historic part of Sydney, and the warmth & cleanliness of my room and public areas.

Next time you are visiting Sydney and are looking for a special place to stay, consider The Hughenden Boutique Hotel. It magically combines the old world charm of heritage features with modern day conveniences. You will not be disappointed.

The Hughenden Boutique Hotel

Address: 14 Queen Street, Woollahra, NSW, 2025
Phone: +61 (02) 9363 4863
Fax: +61 (02) 9362 0398
Email: reservations@thehughenden.com.au
Website: http://thehughenden.com.au
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thehughenden

Monday, 28 July 2014

Grand Musical Staircase - An Exciting Experience for All

Walking up a flight of stairs has never been more delightful as Berjaya Times Square unveils the first and only one of its kind facility in a Malaysian Shopping Mall, the Grand Musical Staircase.

In the past years, Berjaya Times Square had been researching for ways to accommodate the growing traffic between Ground Floor and Lower Ground Floor in a musically fun way. And after weeks of working on the concept, the Management was leaning towards a grand structure based on 3 keywords which are synonymous with the Berjaya Times Square brand: ‘Creative, Energetic and Comprehensive’.

Vibrantly lit in dancing LED sound graphs, the Grand Musical Staircase is designed to resemble a classical piano keyboard right down to its actual chords. Though, do not be fooled by its presentation as apart from the piano, there are percussion, kalimba and piccolo notes embedded to give the Grand Musical Staircase 4 different sounds.

Nestled amidst the grandeur of its design and state-of-the-art technology, the landing area of the staircase on Lower Ground Concourse is installed with liquid panels that produce ripples with every footstep.

An Architectural Marvel

It is also peppered with fibre optic lights and zen like steps which greet you at the Lower Ground Floor as you ascend or descend from the stairs. The staircase is designed to give shoppers the illusion of walking on a sea of stars, making it an exciting experience for all. Behavioural studies have shown that by including the element of ‘fun’, daily mundane situations such as taking the stairs can be revitalised. Reflecting on that idea, the Management hopes to subtly coax our shoppers into a healthier lifestyle by the novelty of the staircase.

Constructed in a little more than 13 weeks at a cost of RM 1.5 million, the Grand Musical Staircase was conceptualized with an architecture marvel in mind.

As the Lower Ground Concourse is used primarily for staged events, the landing area is built to allow an extension for an elevated platform akin to international catwalks and stages. Besides this, the Management has also configured several staging options which will appeal to event organisers and possibly trigger a new demographic of shoppers.
Berjaya Times Square is continuously evolving the retail landscape with new innovations to enhance shopping experiences, and the iconic Grand Musical Staircase is another feather on its hat that will encourage further engagement and interaction with shoppers while providing a whole new level of entertainment.

TOURISM ACCOMMODATION AUSTRALIA CELEBRATES THE BEST OF NSW

The annual Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) NSW Awards for Excellence have celebrated the best of the NSW accommodation industry with the Park Hyatt Sydney and Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa notable winners.

More than 600 political, business and industry leaders attended the awards evening which was held at The Westin, Sydney on Wednesday 16 July.

Assistant Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Katrina Hodgkinson presented the award for Sydney Deluxe Accommodation Hotel to the Park Hyatt, a second consecutive win for the hotel in this category.

The Park Hyatt’s Dining Room was also recognised as Metropolitan Restaurant of the Year, while Bar of the Year went to Four Seasons’ Grain Bar.

Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa was awarded Regional Deluxe Accommodation Hotel and its Wolgan Dining Room was awarded Regional Restaurant of the Year.

To view the full list of winners, please visit the Tourism Accommodation Australia (NSW) website.

BAYS TRANSFORMATION HAS MASSIVE TOURISM POTENTIAL

The NSW Government’s plan to transform Sydney’s Bays Precinct is being hailed as an exciting future tourism opportunity for the Harbour City.

Last week’s announcement by NSW Premier Mike Baird will see the area, just two kilometres west of Sydney’s CBD, revitalised to make way for new housing, as well as areas for recreation, retail, commercial, maritime and of course tourism.

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase applauded the move: “The Bays Precinct has so much untapped potential. It is great to see that the NSW Government is continuing to look to the future with this project which will be the biggest of its kind in NSW.”

Sydney’s largest single urban renewal program in almost 15 years will transform degraded waterfront areas around Blackwattle Bay, the Sydney Fish Market, Rozelle Bay, Rozelle Rail Yards, and the heritage-listed White Bay Power Station into a vibrant harbour front.

The NSW Government will host an international summit later this year, to hear from world leading urban renewal experts about the best ways to revitalise The Bays Precinct.

NSW Premier Mike Baird said, “We owe it to future generations to make sure we get the renewal of such a significant area right, which is why we’ve decided to hold an international summit in Sydney in November, to which we will invite the greatest minds in the field of city building and urban regeneration from across Australia and the world.”

Summit participants will be invited on the basis of their experience, expertise and demonstrated success in the delivery of major urban renewal projects. Further detail is available at www.urbangrowthnsw.com.au, including a fly-through video.

Crown Resorts Foundation and the Packer Family Foundation Announce a $200 Million National Philanthropic Fund

The Chair of the Packer Family Foundation, Gretel Packer, today announced a $200 million National Philanthropic Fund, which marks a commitment over ten years by the Crown Resorts Foundation and the Packer Family Foundation.

Ms Packer said: “I am delighted to launch the National Philanthropic Fund. This exciting collaboration between Crown Resorts and our family creates a platform from which to contribute towards strengthening communities in Australia and developing our artistic future.”

The $200 million National Philanthropic Fund will be structured as follows:
  • $100 million will be donated to eligible charities which promote the arts (the National Arts Fund); and
  • $100 million will be donated to eligible charities which support the broader community and, in particular, Indigenous education (the Community Partnerships and Indigenous Education Fund).

The National Arts Fund aims to promote both access to and the development of the Arts across Australia. It will support projects and organisations that encourage excellence, innovation and creativity in the Arts.

The Community Partnerships and Indigenous Education Fund aims to strengthen communities by providing assistance where it is needed with a particular focus on Indigenous education. It is envisaged that the Crown Resorts Foundation and Packer Family Foundation will work together to identify and support community projects that are innovative, well-run and that will drive lasting social change.

Speaking of the $200 million National Philanthropic Fund, Crown Resorts' Chairman James Packer said:

“Today's announcement commits us to another decade of financial support for organisations which work tirelessly to deliver services, assistance and opportunities for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. I would like to congratulate and thank my sister Gretel for being the driving force behind the establishment of this Fund.”

The previously announced $60 million Sydney Arts Fund will fall within the National Arts Fund. The $200 million National Philanthropic Fund will be administered jointly by the Crown Resorts Foundation Board, chaired by The Hon. Helen Coonan, and the Packer Family Foundation Board, chaired by Ms Gretel Packer. Both Boards offer extensive philanthropic experience with other members including Mrs Roslyn Packer AO, Mr Harold Mitchell AC and Mrs Lucy Turnbull AO.

The Crown Resorts Foundation Board is further supported by an Advisory Board which provides recommendations on the merits of eligible projects. 

CELEBRATING EXCELLENCE AT THE HISTORIC VILLAGE HERBERTON

TripAdvisor has awarded a 2014 Certificate of Excellence to the Historic Village Herberton.

In a letter to the organisation, TripAdvisor said the award signified that the Village has consistently earned outstanding feedback from TripAdvisor travellers.

“This prestigious award is based on the quality of reviews and opinions you’ve earned on TripAdvisor over the past year.”

Historic Village owners Craig and Connie Kimberley said they were incredibly humbled to have received this award.

“This award is incredibly special because it has been voted for by the people who visit us, the people who take the time to share their thoughts and experiences with not only Australia but the rest of the world.

“We will continue to strive for excellence at the Village, which is only possible thanks to our incredible employees and volunteers, who give up their time day in and day out to help make the Village what it is today.”

Craig said 2014 had been a fantastic year, with a number of new exhibits opening over the last few months including the John Deere Tractor Shed Exhibit in May.

For more information visit the website www.herbertonhistoricvillage.com.au or find the Village on Facebook at www.facebook.com/herbertonhistoricvillage.

SAY HELLO TO KOALAS IN PORT MACQUARIE

Port Macquarie is giving visitors a new way to explore the region, announcing the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail that will combine art and nature, highlighting the area’s great recreational spots and tourism attractions from September.

Featuring 50 one-metre high koala sculptures hand painted and decorated by local and interstate artists, the trail will span from the coast to the hinterland, and will be free for anyone to take part.

As well as showcasing local art and creativity, the trail will highlight the importance of environmental sustainability. Port Macquarie, known as the koala capital of Australia, is home to the world’s only Koala Hospital and one of the largest coastal koala populations. Billabong Zoo has an accredited international koala-breeding program.

Country singer John Williamson, who is a patron of the Koala Hospital, is painting a special koala to be located at the facility.

Australian artist Sophie Corcoran will paint a koala sculpture with Parisian scenes while in France, before sending it home to Cassegrain Winery. Wine-maker John Cassegrain is well-known for his French heritage.

Executive Director of Hello Koalas, Margret Meagher said, “Public art is a wonderful way to engage with a broad range of members within the community, from childhood to older age and from diverse backgrounds. It encourages interaction, participation and contribution."

The Hello Koalas Sculpture Project was developed by Arts and Health Australia, a Port Macquarie based national organisation and is inspired by the highly successful Larkin with Toads public art project in Hull UK in 2010.

To learn more about the Trail go to www.hellokoalas.com or like the Hello Koalas Sculpture Project on Facebook.

Year-round cruising from Fremantle

Princess Cruises has released its 2015-16 cruise schedules, with the Sun Princess set to be based in Fremantle from November 2015 to March 2016, offering 11 different cruises to and from the port.

The new cruises will combine with a record winter Fremantle season for Princess Cruises, with Sun Princess's sister ships, Dawn and Sea Princess sailing on 12 itineraries from the port from April to October 2015.

Princess Cruises expect to carry more than 45,000 passengers to and from Fremantle from April 2015 to March 2016, generating an estimated $20 million for the local economy.
princess.com

Sunday, 27 July 2014

WHALES EXCITE AS MINKES COME OUT TO PLAY

Visitors choosing to extend their stay on the Great Barrier Reef are being treated to some of the most incredible up close encounters with the curious and much-loved minke whale.

Capturing some stunning images of the minkes recently was Blue Dive’s Jenny Cann, dive master on Port Douglas’ new liveaboard Blue Dive/Reef Connection, which offers overnight adventures to the outer Great Barrier Reef.

“People that choose an overnight liveaboard excursion get to experience a whole different world with not only diving during the day, but also at night and sunrise.

“It is during the sunrise diving that we are seeing a lot of minkes. They are naturallly curious and as we are the only boat out on the reef at this time, they are very happy to approach us and swim amongst the divers and snorkellers.

“Yesterday morning we were all held captivated as a number of minkes swam around us. We stayed under the water for 15 minutes just watching them and then when our air tanks began to run low, we swapped these for our snorkel equipment and continued to watch and swim with them.

“It was truly life changing and such an unforgettable experience, those who were part of it will take away some incredible memories.”

Ms Cann said while there was a great number of minke whales sightings at the moment, the larger humpback whales had already begun arriving.

“There is some crossover where the minkes are in the water at the same time as the humpback whales but it won’t be long before they move on and we see a lot more humpbacks arrive.”

Different to the minkes and not naturally as curious, Ms Cann said the humpback whales were also happy to come close to boats, and were known on occasion to give their belly’s a rub against these.

Tourism Port Douglas and Daintree executive officer Tara Bennett said swimming with the whales was just one of the many highlights of visiting the Great Barrier Reef.

“People travel from all around the world to experience this every year, but not only do they have the opportunity to see the ocean’s largest mammal they also get to experience the wonder of the Great Barrier Reef,” she said.

For more information on liveaboard dive experiences, visit wwww.bluedive.com.au

All aboard the Heritage Express - LEGEND OF STEAM NORTH-WEST TOUR

As part of our grand expedition — LEGEND OF STEAM™–NORTH-WEST TOUR — Heritage Express announces a special offering of SIXTEEN SECTOR-JOURNEYS ideal for groups or individuals — as we tour the Upper Hunter and North-West Regions of the State on THURSDAY 28 and FRIDAY 29, AUGUST.

So, get your school or social group together and experience the Golden Age of Train Travel on one of our NORTH-WEST STEAM TRAIN RIDES. Single-Sector and Multi-Sector One-Way travel options are available for boarding at a variety of towns along the way! Advance bookings are essential – we don't have the facility to offer walk-up ticket sales at the stations.

LEGEND OF STEAM–NORTH-WEST TOUR — now comprising more exciting tours and events over four days — Thursday, August 28 to Sunday, August 31
 
http://www.heritageexpress.com.au/pages/tours-events/schedule.htm#north-west-tourLik

Small bird aviary for Cairns Wildlife Dome

Children and avid bird watchers can now visit Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome to share a tweet or two with the new arrivals of small birds.

Located in the heart of Cairns, this is an award-winning wildlife park where visitors can also witness free flying birds and roaming animals.

With the new set up of a small bird aviary, an additional 10 species of birds such as wood swallows, gouldian finches, and fig parrots have also moved in.

Further information:
Rates: $24 for adults, $12 for children aged 4 -14 years old (Free for under 4 years old). $60 for Family package (two adults and two children).
Website: www.cairnszoom.com.au

Step Back in Time: A Journey of History on Norfolk Island

HMS Sirius
The sinking of the HMS Sirius on the reef at Kingston at Norfolk Island on 19 March 1790 was a tragic event for the young colony, with Captain John Hunter at the helm.

'Where she went on the rocks in Sydney Bay, in a great surf, and was an entire wreck in less than ten minutes; happily all the people got safely on shore.'
Newton Digby Fowell, second lieutenant, HMS Sirius March 1790

Plans are now in place for March 2015 on Norfolk Island, to mark the 225th Anniversary of the HMS Sirius shipwreck, which includes history workshops, special tours and presentation by the Norfolk Island Museums including special maritime and heritage guest speakers and lunch at Kingston.

HMS Sirius, the flagship of the First Fleet on 14 February 1790 was ordered to proceed to China to purchase further supplies for the struggling Colony. This journey was delayed as, the HMS Supply, was needed to take more convicts to Norfolk Island, in an endeavour to reduce the strain on the dwindling supplies and food shortage in Sydney.

The HMS Sirius carried no convicts to the colony in 1788, on her March 1790 voyage from Sydney Cove to Norfolk Island there were aboard:
  • 101 convict men
  • 65 convict women
  • 25 children of women convicts
  • 33 members of a detachment of the Port Jackson Garrison
  • Four marine's wives and one marine child.
  • 120 ship's crew.

Historians today are fortunate to have access to many of the journals and diaries written by member of the ship's crew and Marines giving various account of the circumstance of the shipwreck. 24 members of the crew were transferred to the HMS Supply after the wreck and returned to Sydney to report the tragedy news back to Sydney.

After the shipwreck and the arrival of over 250 extra people on Norfolk Island, including the 80 stranded crew members, brought about martial law and strict rules on rations on Norfolk Island as it was also unknown when the next ship would arrive with extra provisions. Stranded seaman Jacob Nagle wrote:

'Lieutenant Governor Ross was a merciless commander to either free man or prisoner. He laid us under three different laws: the seamen ware still under the naval laws, the soldiers under the military laws, beside the civil laws and a martial law of his own directions, with strict orders to be attended to for the smallest crime whatever or neglect of duty.'

Some of the crew eventually settled on Norfolk Island and received land grants of 60 acres each including Owen Cavanough, John Drummond, William Hambley, Peter Hibbs and James Proctor.

The HMS Sirius was built in 1870 for the East India Company and was original known as the Berwick. After a fire nearly destroyed the ship, she was bought by the Royal Navy and re built and named HMS Sirius in 1781, she sailed as the Flag ship of the First Fleet for the new colony in 1786.

'Of all the places in the World this (Norfolk Island) is the greatest nest for Rascals it is impossible to trust any one of our men hardly much more any of the Convicts, in short there is no difference between Soldier Sailor or Convicts there Six of the one and half a Dozen of the other.'
Ralph Clark 24 March 1790 Norfolk Island

The shipwreck site off the beach at Kingston, on Norfolk Island is protected by the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 and is listed on the Australian National Heritage List.

The archaeological remains of HMS Sirius represent the link to the most significant vessel associated with early migration of European people to Australia and the First Fleet. Today one the anchor, cannons and other relics of the HMS Sirius are located in the Sirius Museum at Kingston on Norfolk Island. In Sydney, the other anchor is at the Australian National Maritime Museum and a cannon, is on display in Macquarie Place.

Sirius Week 2015 on Norfolk island has also been set for the release of historian Cathy Dunn publication, she has team up with Norfolk Island based historian Liz McCoy in the writing of “HMS Sirius: Her final Voyage”. This will also include the first two generations of people, their life on Norfolk Island and Sydney in the early colony days, land grants, shipping and much more.

Historian Cathy Dunn is offering a unique Norfolk Island and historical research experience with the hosting of the Norfolk Island History Lovers holiday during Sirius Week in March 2015. Spoil yourself with a history lovers holiday on beautiful Norfolk Island! Come and discover the living history and culture of World Heritage Norfolk Island and the shipwreck HMS Sirius

Norfolk Island
Recently announced for the History Lovers is an early bird booking special of pay your deposit to travel to Norfolk Island for the History Lovers before 30 September 2014 and receive a bonus Norfolk Island DVD and a family history report for two/three generations of one of your 1st Settlement Family connection, including copies of available primary records.

More Details at www.heritagetourism.com.au

Saturday, 26 July 2014

The UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism will be presented at FITUR 2015

The registration period has been opened for the Eleventh Ulysses UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism, the second time that these awards will take place within the framework of FITUR. The aim of these awards is to recognise those initiatives that help to promote tourism through the realms of know-how and innovation.

The period for entering these projects - via innova@unwto.org- will end on 31st October 2014. The Awards will be presented on 28th January 2015 within the framework of the International Tourism Trade Fair, FITUR, an event to be staged by IFEMA from 28th January to 1st February next at FERIA DE MADRID.

These prestigious awards have recognised more than 60 initiatives within both the public and private tourist sectors since they were set up in 2003, encompassing four different tourism categories: The UNWTO Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance; the UNWTO Award for Innovation in Enterprises; the UNWTO Award for Innovation in Non-Governmental Organizations; and the UNWTO Award for Innovation in Research and Technology.

Awards are also contemplated for key figures within the industry, based on two different categories: the UNWTO Prize for Excellence in the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge; and the UNWTO Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Following the presentation of the UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism, a Symposium will also take place within the framework of the Conference and Activities Programme at FITUR, featuring presentations of the award-winning initiatives.

Noosa - You Could Be Here

On cold wintry days it's hard to imagine that you could be here in Noosa, floating in the ocean beneath blue skies, warm sunshine on your skin. Imagine away, it's easier than you think to escape the chill and be here, with sensational Noosa deals now available throughout winter. Head to visitnoosa.com.au/behere for some great Noosa - You Could Be Here deals including:

Accommodation Deals
  • Stay 5 nights and pay for 4 in boutique beachfront resort – Maison Noosa.
  • Stay absolute beachfront at Netanya Noosa for 5 nights and pay for 3.
  • Spend 2 nights in a luxury Lake Weyba Cottage, including breakfast.
  • Enjoy a Noosa Springs mid-week break with a golf or spa bonus.
  • Enjoy a room with view, dinner and buffet breakfast at Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort and Spa.
  • Receive 20% off 5 nights near the Noosa River at The Islander Resort.
  • Stay near Noosa River and receive free breakfast at Ivory Palms Resort.
  • Stay 7 and pay for 5 in a self contained apartment at Australis Noosa Lakes.
  • Enjoy a triple treat 3 nights escape at absolute lakefront Eumarella Shores Noosa Lake Retreat.
  • Relish a 3 night Hastings Street getaway with Mantra French Quarter.
Experience Deals
  • Experience a touch of tranquillity with an Ikatan Spa package for two.
  • Hire 1 bike and get the 2nd bike half price with Bike On Australia.
  • Travel together and save with airport transfers thanks to Con-X-ion.
To book your ideal Noosa - You Could Be Here holiday see visitnoosa.com.au/behere for details or call the Visitor Information Centre on 13000 NOOSA [13000 666 72].

Luxperience Partners With Quay Restaurant Promising Delegates Fine Food and Wine Experiences at the Luxury Tourism Exchange

Peter Gilmore
Highlighting the spirit of luxury and experiential travel, this year Luxperience will provide delegates and exhibitors with some of Australia's finest food and wine experiences.

Partnerships with some of Australia's finest hotels, catering companies and restaurants, including Quay Restaurant, will ensure buyers and exhibitors get to sample the best of “Restaurant Australia” while in Sydney.

Luxperience is particularly excited to reveal today a partnership with Quay Restaurant for one of its signature networking events. Renowned chef Peter Gilmore will personally design the menu for the evening function and will be there to meet and greet guests.

The partnership highlights a shared recognition both companies have to provide quality experiences in order to appeal to both the high-end leisure and corporate travel markets.

“The partnership with Quay Restaurant is a perfect match for Luxperience, as both brands cater for high-end leisure consumers and the MICE market,” says CEO Lindy Andrews.

“It also highlights the emphasis this year's event has on experiential and immersive travel experiences that is expected of the luxury travel industry today.”

Peter Gilmore agrees; “Our alignment with Luxperience offers us an ideal opportunity to welcome key influencers of elite global travel connoisseurs. This is an opportunity to showcase not only the unique Quay experience but the quality of Australian food and wine experiences”.

Quay has been awarded Three Chefs Hats for ten consecutive years and named Restaurant of the Year four times in The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide.

International buyer delegates will get to stay in some of Sydney's finest hotels while attending the event and visit some Australia's most luxurious resorts on post-event familiarisations.

During their stay they will have the opportunity to sample world-class food and wine offerings, spectacular views, innovative design concepts and truly unique Australian experiences that each hotel and resort offers.

The networking events at Luxperience bring together a Who's Who of global trade buyers and sellers, event management and catering organisations including award-winning catering company Doltone House, and renowned entertainment managers Apple & Pears.

Hotels including Pier One Sydney, Blue Sydney, Park Hyatt, Four Seasons, Harbour Rocks Hotel, the Pullman and Sofitel Sydney Wentworth will host delegates, while Luxury Lodges of Australia will host post-event familiarisations to unique properties such as El Questro Homestead, Longtitude 131 and Southern Ocean Lodge.

LAST CHANCE FOR BUYER REGISTRATIONS
Buyers are encouraged to register now to attend Luxperience for the opportunity to participate in this exclusive event. Follow this link to register now:
http://www.luxperience.com.au/luxperience-buyers/the-national-inspire-buyer-program/

For further information on participation at Luxperience 2014, please contact:
beinspired@luxperience.com.au or visit www.luxperience.com.au

New Digital Content Experience in Qantas Domestic Lounges as Part of Entertainment Refresh

Qantas, together with oOh! Media, has launched 'QView', a new interactive digital content experience in Qantas Clubs and Lounges across Australia.

This change is the first part of a major refresh of the entertainment Qantas offers customers, both on the ground and in the air.

QView delivers relevant news, sport, weather and bespoke content across a digital screen network, through world-leading technology, including real-time boarding notifications to customers' own devices using the complimentary Wi-Fi in the lounge.

The viewing selections across customers' personal devices will shape the content displayed on the digital screens in each individual lounge, reflecting the preferences and trends of customers at any given time.

Qantas Group Executive Manager Brand, Marketing and Corporate Affairs Olivia Wirth said the airline was excited to provide customers with a smarter and more tailored digital content experience.

“We know our customers are turning to their mobile devices to access their latest news and sport content. By integrating this with personalised flight information, including up-to-the-minute boarding times, walking time to their boarding gate and weather at the destination, our customers will be able to find the information they need in the one place,” Mrs Wirth said.

oOh! Media CEO, Brendon Cook, said oOh! is leading the world in developing what the company terms a 360 degree signage and content solution.

“We have developed a unique end-to-end solution that takes tailored content and distributes it not only to digital signs but to multiple tablet and mobile phone devices. We have invested millions to deliver this world-first, digital service that engages the premium audience of the millions of Qantas passengers who use the lounges each year," Mr Cook said.

Mrs Wirth said new technology and a focus on improving people's travel experience will drive a series of improvements to Qantas' entertainment offering, to be gradually rolled out over the next few months.

“From early August customers will notice a big increase in the amount of content we offer on board, including almost doubling the number of new-release blockbusters and more virtual box sets of popular TV series.”

The 100 hours of additional content will be available on most Qantas International and Domestic flights including:
  • 77 hours more movie content (including 28 new Oscar Classics)
  • 20 hours more TV content
  • Almost doubling the number of new Hollywood releases from six to 10 per month

Island Yacht - sailing the dream!

Have you ever wanted to live on an island?

Or live on your own yacht?

Why not combine the two together and live the ultimate lifestyle?

You can live, work and play as you cruise to your ideal global destinations.

Is this for real? I am not sure.

However, this is the place I would like to be!

What is your ideal home or holiday destination?

Lace up for new Queen Mary Falls walking tour


Cambanoora Co has recently launched a new bush walking tour suitable for all ages and abilities, at Queen Mary Falls.

Located near the rolling hills of Kilarney, two hours' drive from Brisbane, the fully guided walk introduces nature lovers to the stunning Queen Mary Falls section of the World Heritage listed Main Range National Park.

Keith Jonson, a veteran bush-walking guide provides interpretation of the forest environment as well as the history and the flora and fauna found in the region.

Following the walk, Devonshire tea is served at the Mary Falls café. Tour to start on July 10, 2014.

Further information:
Rates: $25 for adults, $20 for children aged 5 -16 years old (Free for under 5 years old) Group Discounts available. Bookings are essential.
Website: www.cambanoora.com.au

Friday, 25 July 2014

The Yak- the dream hostel turned reality

Yak excursion to Akumal Beach
I’m sure all travelers have discussed their own version of an ideal hostel over a few drinks- combining all the best parts of each they have stayed at in order to imagine the perfect hostel. But how many of us have actually gone ahead and made this happen? The owner’s of ‘The Yak’ hostel in Playa Del Carmen have done exactly that- starting from scratch in less than two years they have succeeded in creating the traveller’s perfect hostel.

The first impression as you walk through the gate is that of a relaxed atmosphere, with a lovely outside shaded area with hammocks, trees, chairs and tables and the outdoor reception. The perfect place to relax, recover, and meet new people. The reception also doubles as the bar- which results in a very different feel at night with a huge party atmosphere. A free drink ticket on arrival means you can try their amazing pina coladas without paying a cent! Almost every night everyone gathers for the pre-party before heading out to the clubs later on. With organised drinking game nights, beer olympics, beer pong and giant jenga its sure to keep you entertained. Here is where you know the rules have been made by experienced travelers- you can either buy cheap drinks from the bar, or bring your own from the supermarket down the road! Now that’s generous.

After a big night out, it’s great to be able to wake up to a nice breakfast with a range of cereals, toast, fruit and coffee. Of course- all free! Then its time to either relax in the hammocks, mingle with more new people or head to the beach which is just down the road. The hostel’s location is perfect as its only 2 blocks back from the beach and 1 block from the main nightclub street. It also means you can avoid the overpriced restaurants on 5th Ave and try the local, amazing, cheap food around the hostel!

Weekly family dinner at Yak hostel
‘The Yak’ currently consists of 2 buildings, with more to be added this year. The main building is 4 stories high, with dorms and private rooms, 2 kitchens, verandahs, a lounge and rooftop terrace. The latter is a beautiful place to relax with some nibbles in the afternoon and watch the sunset over the buildings of Playa Del Carmen. The kitchens are very well equipped with everything you could need to cook up a storm. The second building is located on the other side of the outdoor area and also has private rooms and a 14 bed dorm. The large dorm is so spacious it doesn’t ever feel like there are 14 beds, there is plenty of floor space, massive lockers, a newly tiled floor and own large bathroom. They definitely have prioritised our space over their own income- there would be room for at least another 6 beds if they were as cramped as some of the other hostels we have all seen!

The cleanliness of the entire place is also incomparible. The cleaners work tirelessly all day scrubbing, polishing and making sure every single inch is spick and span. I would honestly say this place would be clean enough for the queen! I witnessed the oven being cleaned completely two days in a row, and my dorm room floor was thoroughly mopped every single day. The air conditioner is turned on at night and left on until around midday for a nice cool sleep in.

Each day has an activity organised by the hostel- either drinking games, dinner, movie night or an excursion. It really is impossible not to meet new people with so much bonding time and activities. It is their aim to have you knowing everyone in just two days- which definitely happened! The dinners are cooked fresh by the staff and taste amazing. For only 45 pesos this includes your meal and a drink from the bar. Don’t worry- theres plenty of food and enough for seconds! I tried the spaghetti bolognese and the rooftop burgers- delicious!

My favourite activity was the excursion to Akumal to snorkel with the sea turtles! Definitely not a money making scheme, you are guided by a staff member but only have to pay for your transport there and back. All free of charge the hostel lends you snorkels and a mask, takes games for the beach and even an esky with ice if you want to take drinks. Swimming so close to the sea turtles is an amazing experience definitely not to be missed!

Turtle from Akumal Beach excursion
The overall feeling this hostel portrays is ultimately what makes it so good. The staff are so friendly and will go out of their way to help you, even making the effort to learn everyone’s names! With the activities and dinners, your really do get to know everyone like family. Combine that with all of the perfectly designed aspects of the hostel and you really do have the ultimate hostel that all travelers have dreamed of.

Stay here and see for yourself!

The staging of the FITUR Jorge Vila Fradera Award has been announced

FITUR will stage the 16th FITUR Jorge Vila Fradera Award in collaboration with the Spanish Association of Tourism Experts, AECIT. This award seeks to promote and disseminate unpublished research on the tourist industry, with a view to boosting competitiveness from the realm of knowledge and know-how. This Award will thus form part of the forthcoming staging of the International Tourism Trade Fair, an event organised by IFEMA to be staged from 28th to 1st February 2015 at FERIA DE MADRID.

An Academic Committee will be set up consisting of members of AECIT, sponsors of the Award and representatives of FITUR, which will be entrusted with establishing the evaluation criteria and choosing the four Finalists, who shall be presented during the AECIT Conference due to be staged within the framework of FITUR 2015. The Committee will also present the winner on this occasion.

The Award, which is of an international nature and is presented on an annual basis, is open to the entire academic community linked to the industry. Entries must be presented in Spanish in computerised format (CD-ROM, preferably using Windows), featuring a maximum length of 150 pages, before 28th November 2014 (Apdo. de Correos 67.067 - 28080 Madrid).

The winner will be announced during the course of FITUR 2015 and, subsequently, the work shall be published in Spanish, with the Editor Group being entrusted with the corresponding distribution and marketing throughout Spain, the European Union, the Latin American nations and the rest of the world.

Celebrated Indigenous Artist-in-Residence at Ayers Rock Resort‏

Anna Pitjara
Celebrated Indigenous artist Anna Pitjara will be in residence at Ayers Rock Resort during August as part of the Resort’s Artist-in-Residence program. During her residence, Anna will work in the Desert Oak Studio daily drawing inspiration from her surrounds while interacting with guests. An exhibition by contemporary Indigenous artist Maureen Hudson will also feature at the Resort in August.

Each month, Ayers Rock Resort's highly successful Artist-in-Residence program features an Australian artist and a regular Australian craftsperson to work within the Resort and create art in situ, as well as to exhibit and sell their work. This is in addition to artists from the local Mutitjulu Community who work daily at the Indigenous Art Market located at the Resort Town Square.

Previous well known Indigenous artists have included Raymond Walters Japanangka, Teresa Baker of Tjungu Palya Arts, Roma Butler and Dianne Dawson of Minyma Kutjarra (Wingellina). Regular craftspeople as part of the program have included ceramics artist Lesley Chaston, textile artist Caroline Sharkey and artists from Warburton Glass.

Highly sought after by galleries and collectors alike, Anna Pitjara is renowned for her fine rhythmic dot work technique, often in black and white or red and white with small blocks of colour. Most recognised for her works Sandhills/My Country dreaming using this technique, the series has emerged as one of her most prized.

During August, Maureen Hudson will also showcase her work titled Seven Sisters in the Night Sky at Desert Oak Studio. Maureen is known for her elegant painting style and her unique dotting technique resulting in an extraordinary three dimensional aspect to her paintings, whether depicting rolling sand dunes or aerial maps of her country.

“The Artist-in-Residence program offers guests a unique opportunity to meet and watch these talented artists at work and provide meaningful connections with Indigenous art whilst enhancing their understanding of Indigenous culture,” says Ray Stone, Voyages Executive General Manager Sales Marketing and Distribution.

Original hand-selected central Australian Indigenous art can also be viewed and purchased at the Resort’s acclaimed Mulgara Gallery, Desert Oaks Studio and Mingkiri Arts and Craftworks.

Visit for a weekend and stay two nights at the five star Sails in the Desert hotel from $432* per person. Package also includes return Ayers Rock Airport transfers and an Indigenous activities program. Children 15 years and under stay free.

For more information, visit ayersrockresort.com.au or call 1300 134 044.

Dream Holi Festival 2014 – first colour festival in Estonia

The roots of this event go back far to the past. Festival HOLI captured the hearts of residents in Europe and British colony already in the 17th century.

Festival HOLI (also known as The Festival of the Beginning of Spring / The Festival of Love and of course, as the Festival of Colors) – it is an ancient Indian festival with many traditions and rituals.

Holi is known as a cheerful holiday in honor of the victory of good over evil and involves all family members, young and old.

One of the main rituals of the festival is a game of colors, during which participants shower each other with colored powders.

There are no rules, there are no hard feelings, there are just pure joy, jokes and fun.

Dream HOLI is an open air festival, where there are no age limits for the guests.

BOATLOADS TO SEE AND DO AT THE SYDNEY INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW

The 2014 Sydney International Boat Show opens next week with both the Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island and the Cockle Bay Marina at Darling Harbour filled to capacity. The show presents everything the water-loving Aussie could ever wish for. More than 60,000 visitors are expected at the show which, for the first time, is being held across two spectacular harbour venues, both available on the one ticket, with transport between the venues included for free.

Opening Thursday 31 July, more than 150 boats will be on display at Darling Harbour, ranging from the more modest, to the most luxurious, making up part of the recreational marine industry valued at $8 billion in Australia. A free continuous harbour ferry service will transport visitors from Darling Harbour across to the Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island where an additional 210 exhibitors will display Trailer Boats, the latest gadgets and leading products available to recreational boaters this year. The Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island can also be accessed via a free continuous shuttle bus service operating to and from Central Station.

Once there, the Lifejacket Lounge featuring the Glebe Island Beach BBQ, near the entrance to the Exhibition Centre is a wonderful location to rendezvous with friends, catch a bite to eat, have a drink, and enjoy the view across the harbour. Amongst the many exhibitors, regular fishing clinics will take place on stage, also featuring the Musto Fashion Extravaganza (a ‘must-see’ every year), and talks by adventurers Lisa Blair and Andrew Abrahams. Lisa will speak about her goal of being the first woman to sail unassisted around Antarctica. Andrew will present amazing stories and pictures from his incredible feat of rowing solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Celebrity Chef Bart Beek will also be there cooking-up culinary delights and giving demonstrations.

The Sydney International Boat Show is the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, and is the one place where those who love boating, or want to learn more about it, can find information on owning a boat, hiring a boat, how to improve their fishing technique, see the latest in ski gear, or browse for their next tinny or kayak.

Whilst there will be plenty of public transport options, visitors wanting to drive are advised to head to Darling Harbour in the first instance. Those wishing to park at Glebe Island can do so by pre-booking their parking. Boat Show ambassadors Andrew Ettingshausen and Jessica Watson have all the transport details at www.sydneyboatshow.com.au

The following tickets are available:
$ 21.00 - Adults (18 years and over)
$ 49.00 - Family (2 Adults & 3 Children, 6-17 years)
$ 13.00 - Children (6-17 years. Free entry 5 years and under)
$ 30.00 - 2-day Guest Pass (18 years and over)
$ 40.00 - 3-day Guest Pass (18 years and over)
$ 15.00 - Aged Pensioners (Must show valid pension card)
$ 19.00 - Seniors (Must show valid seniors card)

The show will open daily from 10am to 8pm at Glebe Island and from 10am to 6pm at the Cockle Bay Marina in Darling Harbour.

The Sydney International Boat Show will be joined by their Partner in Safety, Transport for NSW to ensure visitors are up to date on the latest information to help make their time on the water a better and safer experience.

Tickets and parking for Glebe Island can be purchased online at www.sydneyboatshow.com.au where a downloadable transport guide is also available to help visitors plan their day.

Be happy at the Thailand Happiness Street Festival

Date & Time: 25 – 26 July, 2014, at 15.00 – 24.00 hrs.
Venue: Ratchaprasong area: Ratchadamri Road linked with Rama I Road, Bangkok  CentralWorld Square, Parc Paragon, The Platinum fashion mall

Concept of “Thailand Happiness”: 

COLOUR YOUR LIFE WITH HAPPINESS
Join hands in disseminating smiley invitations from Thai people to international friends around the world and invite them to visit “Thailand: The Land of Smiles”.

Activities of Thailand Happiness:


1. Happiness Music; 

Well-known performers of modern and Thai folk songs will present “The Thai Way of Happiness”; such as, Da Endorphine, Palmy, Potato, Modern Dog, Ying Lee, Takkatan Cholada, Arpaporn Nakornsawan, and others, along with special effects, sound and light theatrics at the CentralWorld Square on 25 July 2014 from 15.00 – 24.00 hrs.

2.  Happiness Street 

comprises of 4 activities:
  • Happiness Market: Colourful fairs of trendy, popular products; such as:
- Vintage Shops & Hand Made Market: Vintage shops from the railway market, old record players, traditional grocery products, chic shop, Volkswagen parts shop, etc.
- Online on Street: Trendy online shops on Facebook and other websites will participate to present their products on the street; such as, Nine-TwentyFive Jewelry, Nook Atelier, IDK Just Fun, Guvnorstore, etc.
- Star on Street: Thai celebrities and TV superstars set up booths to sell products; such as, fashionable footwear, T-Shirts, green gourmet cuisine, boutiques, and Thai desserts.
- Food & Drink: Plenty of delicious Thai cuisine and beverages.
  • Happiness Surprises: Along the walking street, there will be two giant gift boxes which can only be opened by smiling participants. They will be invited to take photos and post it to the Instagram feed “Return happiness to Thailand”. After getting 100% energy of smiles, the boxes will be opened to find different surprises inside; such as, a chance to meet their favourite celebrities.
  • Happiness Activity: One of many activities to bring out more smiles. For example:
- “Connect to Happiness” will offer a free lollipop machine. Visitors can press a button on the smiley stand and lollipop will come out, but the smiley stand and the machine will go further apart. The next person waiting in the queue will need to find a helper to reconnect it, creating bonds and friendship amongst people who do not otherwise know each other.
- “Happiness Refill” taking photos at events, then hashtag on instagram #Thailandhappiness to get a chance to win plenty of cute souvenirs.
  • Happiness Show Off (Thailand Happiness Parades):
Parades to create an atmosphere of fun, happiness and Thainess, and generate made-for-social-media images for onward forwarding. The parades comprise:
- Thailand Happiness Caravan
- Thai Fashion Show
- Thai Cuisine to the World
- Visit Thailand, Go Everywhere
- Colourful Thailand
- Extravaganza of Thai Folk Songs

Thai style street show such as, Isan Drumlines (Thailand northeastern region), The Star’s concert, performance from Thailand Got Talent and Thai Smile show at Parc Paragon.

Tentative Programme at the CentralWorld Stage

Friday, 25 July 2014
15.00 – 15.40 Hrs. - Bands performance and Street Festival activities
19.00 – 19.15 Hrs. - Thailand Happiness Parade
19.30 Hrs. - MC welcomes the guests. - Opening ceremony
19.50 – 20.30 Hrs. - Band performance
20.30 – 24.00 Hrs. - Bands performance

See more at: http://www.tatnews.org/thailand-happiness-street-festival/#sthash.NE1mHtot.dpuf

New Truffle Tour a Feast for Foodies

Foodies visiting the Margaret River Region can now uncover the mystique of one of the world's most elusive and celebrated gourmet delicacies – the truffle.

Fuelled by a growing demand for gourmet tourism and paddock-to-plate experiences, Margaret River-based tour company 'Go In Style' has launched a new luxury truffle-hunting tour – the first of its kind in Western Australia.

The fully inclusive day tour operates out of the Margaret River Region, taking guests on a day trip to nearby Oak Valley Truffle Farm in Manjimup followed by a decadent truffle-themed lunch at Watershed Premium Wines in Margaret River.

Tour guests travel in luxury transport through picturesque countryside via the heritage town of Nannup to Oak Valley Farm near Manjimup in the Southern Forests region – renowned as prime truffle country.

Guests experience first-hand how truffles are grown, harvested and processed, and learn about the history and operation of Oak Valley Truffle Farm.

The tour includes a guided walk with a specially trained truffle-hunting dog and its handler, to witness how they find and harvest the truffles amongst 75 hectares of spectacular oak and hazelnut trees.

Tour company owner Peter Norris said that there has always been a certain level of intrigue around the subject of truffles.

“People are fascinated by truffles - particularly their rarity and expense, which is part of how the tour concept came about; the aim is to demystify the humble truffle,” said Mr Norris.

“It is also a great opportunity to showcase our beautiful Southern Forests region to people who are staying in the Margaret River Region – and ties in with the Southern Forests Food Council's current 'quality food' campaign for Manjimup and surrounding areas,” he said.

Geoff Barrett, Chairman of Oak Valley Truffle Farm and Managing Director of Watershed Premium Wines advised that he was thrilled to be involved in such a unique initiative.

“Oak Valley is truly an exceptional truffle farm; we are delighted to be a part of Go In Style's truffle tour. Within 6 – 7 years, Oak Valley will be the single largest truffle producer in the southern hemisphere - with an anticipated annual harvest of 15,000kg (15 tonnes),” said Mr Barrett.

“Moreover, to end with lunch at Watershed Premium Wines is a truly iconic Margaret River experience – Watershed has been named Western Australia's Winery of the Year by Ray Jordan, and is the first WA winery in history to be a finalist for the prestigious NSW Royal Agricultural Society President's Medal,” said Mr Barrett.

“The Oak Valley Truffle Tour provides an ideal opportunity to showcase Watershed's award winning wines and outstanding dining to our target market,” he said.

The Oak Valley Truffle Tour runs all year round and can be booked directly or via the Margaret River Visitor Centre on +61 8 9780 5914, www.margaretriver.com or via email welcome@margaretriver.com.

Centara Grand Azuri Resort & Spa Mauritius offers more than 20 leisure activities on land and at sea free to guests

With more than 20 activities on sea and land offered free of charge to guests, and with more charged activities available bringing the total to over 30, Centara Grand Azuri Resort & Spa Mauritius, and the adjacent Centara Grand Azuri Residence & Suites Mauritius offer more leisure activities than any other resort on the island.

The five-star resort hotel and the adjacent serviced residences, townhouses and penthouses, are sister properties.

Chris Bailey, senior vice president for sales and marketing at Centara Hotels & Resorts says that the number of activities available means there is something for everyone, no matter how adventurous or how relaxed they wish to be.

“No other resort in Mauritius can offer this choice of leisure action, and it will enhance the stay of any holidaymaker,” he says. “We consider the activities to be an important value-added aspect of this newly built resort.”

Working in conjunction with Azarine Activities, the resort offers water sports including water skiing, reef snorkelling, kayaks, wind surfing, dinghies, pedal boats and a glass-bottom boat.

On land the action includes trampolines, archery, quad bikes, dune buggies, off-road motorised go-karting, an assault course, mountain boarding and mountain biking, with a climbing wall and a zipline being added later this year.

A family games centre includes boules, badminton, tennis volley, croquette and giant chess.

Various excursions are also available, including cycle trips, cultural tours, a kayak up-river safari, and sea cruises.

The hotel and residences are part of the new Azuri oceanfront community, set right on the beach and with a backdrop of sugarcane fields and verdant landscapes. The ambience is that of an understated luxury village, a laid-back community next to the lagoon, and with its own shops. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport is a 70-minute drive away.

Centara Hotels & Resorts is Thailand’s leading operator of hotels, with 47 deluxe and first-class properties covering all the major tourist destinations in the Kingdom. A further 21 resorts in Maldives, Vietnam, Bali, Shanghai, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Ethiopia, Qatar, Laos and Oman brings the present total to 68 properties. Brands and properties within Centara ensure that specific categories such as couples, families, individuals, and meetings and incentives groups will all find a hotel or resort that is appropriate to their needs.

VFR Tourists (people who visit their friends and relatives) the 'Most Underestimated' Segment in Australia

Tourist attractions can earn more money and local councils and government bodies could build their visitor economy more effectively by better servicing people visiting friends and relatives in their area

A new report shows that people who visit their friends and relatives (VFRs) around the country are the unsung heroes of the tourism industry – and more should be done to encourage their visits.

An online survey in July by Sydney-based MyTravelResearch.com of 800 Australian residents who visited friends or relatives domestically in the last 12 months, showed that visitor information centres, regional and local tourism websites, council websites and search engines could do more to empower the sector which is worth an estimated $15 billion per year, according to Tourism Research Australia.

"The MyTravelResearch.com survey shows that around 25% of people planning and going on trips to visit friends or relatives are not finding the information they would like as quickly and as easily as possible," says Bronwyn White, co-founder of MyTravelResearch.com.

"All around Australia there is massive potential for more and better programs to attract VFRs," says White, who adds that around 45% also seek accommodation during the trip.

Only some smart operators are VFR-savvy. Carolyn Childs, fellow co-founder at MyTravelResearch.com, cites Paronella Park near Innisfail in Queensland, where tickets can be used all year round by locals. This incentivizes them to take out of town guests to the park. She also praises IHG and Marriott for having VFR programs.

The survey reported that 43% of VFRs who use social media post images of activities at the destination on social media. Some 34% post "beautiful" images of the scenery while there. Around 20% of the over 55s are already using social media on their VFR trips. Local attractions should be more aware of the huge marketing potential such social media exposure brings to the area.

MyTravelResearch.com is running a workshop in Sydney on 30 July for travel industry operators, local businesses and government-related bodies that want to unlock the potential of what Childs calls, "Australia's most underestimated market segment."

The workshop will teach the travel industry information about the VFR market and how to connect with them, how to market directly to VFRs, what content messages they want to hear, clever ways to stimulate the local visitor economy via VFRs, how to increase local VFR market spend, how to engage the local community to champion local attractions, and how to change local residents' and community perceptions about their area in order to promote attractions, events and sights of the region.

To join the workshop and/or get the full VFR report, visit www.MyVFRresearch.com.au. Or call MyTravelResearch.com at + 61 (0) 416 213962.