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Monday, 31 August 2009

Twitter “Cheep Cheep” Seats! Virgin Blue Celebrates 9th Birthday with Twitter Sale



Virgin Blue Airlines is celebrating turning nine years old with $9 seats on sale across a range of routes in the first of what the airline says will be regular ‘Twitter’ sales.

The $9 ‘Tweet seats’, priced deliberately at less than a bottle of birthday champagne, will only be available on the Virgin Blue Twitter website – www.twitter.com/virginblue.

From 9pm tonight until sold out, Virgin Blue will offer 1000 $9.00* one-way fares for Virgin Blue Twitter fans to snap up across a range of destinations including Canberra-Sydney, Port Macquarie-Sydney, Brisbane-Newcastle and Rockhampton-Brisbane. The fares are for travel from 2 February 2010 to 27 February 2010.

The sale is the first of a series of regular “tweet seats” sales that will be offered across the Virgin Blue domestic route network over coming months.

Travellers will be able to go to the Twitter site and click on a link and be taken directly to a booking page with the special fares which, for this sale, are up to 91% lower than the every day lead in fare on the same route.

The airline Group will also add Pacific Blue flights to its future tweet seats sale fares, offering super deals from Australia to some of the most popular destinations in the Pacific including New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa.

Virgin Blue Group Chief Executive Officer, Brett Godfrey, said, “This is a bit of fun and also a bit of an experiment trialling distribution through one of the latest forms of social media.

“Our marketing team has been closely watching worldwide consumer trends in markets where travellers are already social media savvy and we see Australians fast developing a following for Twitter as a source of the latest information regarding a wide range of products and services including airline news.

“With the current trend in real time news and information we expect the fares will be snapped up quickly,” Brett Godfrey finished.

To follow Virgin Blue on Twitter and take advantage of the “tweet seats”, check out www.twitter.com/virginblue.

* All fares are one way for flights booked on the internet only (via Twitter link). Fares are subject to availability and may not be available on all flights or peak times. Fare price is non-refundable and checked baggage charges apply. Pre-pay $8 online for up to 23kgs of checked baggage per person one way flight, or pay $20 at the airport for the same allowance.

Twitter “Cheep Cheep” Seats! Virgin Blue Celebrates 9th Birthday with Twitter Sale


Virgin Blue Airlines is celebrating turning nine years old with $9 seats on sale across a range of routes in the first of what the airline says will be regular ‘Twitter’ sales.

The $9 ‘Tweet seats’, priced deliberately at less than a bottle of birthday champagne, will only be available on the Virgin Blue Twitter website – www.twitter.com/virginblue.

From 9pm tonight until sold out, Virgin Blue will offer 1000 $9.00* one-way fares for Virgin Blue Twitter fans to snap up across a range of destinations including Canberra-Sydney, Port Macquarie-Sydney, Brisbane-Newcastle and Rockhampton-Brisbane. The fares are for travel from 2 February 2010 to 27 February 2010.

The sale is the first of a series of regular “tweet seats” sales that will be offered across the Virgin Blue domestic route network over coming months.

Travellers will be able to go to the Twitter site and click on a link and be taken directly to a booking page with the special fares which, for this sale, are up to 91% lower than the every day lead in fare on the same route.

The airline Group will also add Pacific Blue flights to its future tweet seats sale fares, offering super deals from Australia to some of the most popular destinations in the Pacific including New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa.

Virgin Blue Group Chief Executive Officer, Brett Godfrey, said, “This is a bit of fun and also a bit of an experiment trialling distribution through one of the latest forms of social media.

“Our marketing team has been closely watching worldwide consumer trends in markets where travellers are already social media savvy and we see Australians fast developing a following for Twitter as a source of the latest information regarding a wide range of products and services including airline news.

“With the current trend in real time news and information we expect the fares will be snapped up quickly,” Brett Godfrey finished.

To follow Virgin Blue on Twitter and take advantage of the “tweet seats”, check out www.twitter.com/virginblue.

* All fares are one way for flights booked on the internet only (via Twitter link). Fares are subject to availability and may not be available on all flights or peak times. Fare price is non-refundable and checked baggage charges apply. Pre-pay $8 online for up to 23kgs of checked baggage per person one way flight, or pay $20 at the airport for the same allowance.

Indulge In a Tropical Fantasy at the Lakes



Tropical holidays don’t get better than this special Reef Island and Cairns Getaway at The Lakes Cairns Resort and Spa.

From only $AUD850 per person you get three nights in a one-bedroom apartment at The Lakes in the heart of Cairns city’s cultural precinct and then stay on the Great Barrier Reef with two nights at Green Island Resort.

The five-night getaway includes a tour to the outer Great Barrier Reef, a full buffet breakfast daily at Green Island Resort, an airport transfer to The Lakes, a transfer from The Lakes to the Reef Fleet Terminal and launch transfers to Green Island Resort.

Situated only 3km from the Cairns International Airport and 3km from the Cairns CBD, The Lakes Cairns Resort and Spa is an award-winning 4.5 star resort situated on 4ha of lush tropical gardens, scenic lakes and large resort style pools.

The Lakes is a member of Vision Hotels and Resorts.

For bookings and information
email reservations@visionhotelsandresorts.com or call 1800 666 614

Peek At Private Paradise



Rarely are you given the opportunity to peek inside a private paradise. Ralph and Janet Hogan are opening the gates to their private garden as part of the Australian Open Garden scheme, the weekend of 31st October and 1st November. Perched on a promontory, overlooking Hayman Island and the Coral Sea in Airlie Beach, Villa Botanica combines a magnificent sub-tropical garden in a stunning coastal setting.

Driven by a desire to create something significant and inspirational, owner Ralph Hogan says, “I am influenced by the turn of the century when people created lasting beautiful spaces. My newest addition to the garden is a Cactarium, which I like to imagine pays homage to the Art Nouveau hothouses of Europe.” The open garden weekend gives nature lovers the rare opportunity to experience the sense of life, growth and creativity in this wonderful setting.

The new Cactarium will be officially opened by popular gardening identity Helen Young, who will be available to talk to visitors over the weekend. The property includes one of the largest succulent gardens in Australia along with some rare and great cactii including a huge 55 year old Echinocactus grusonii. There is also a remnant native monsoonal vine thicket forest with some substantial Mackay Cedars, lots of tulip oaks, Burdekin plum and the local bottle tree, Brachychiton compactus. Jungle aroids clamber-up rainforest trees and a beautiful pebble pathway winds through the magic. There are elegant fountains, fabulous views, beautifully carved one-offs from Bali, niches of wonder and oddities.

Janet Hogan says “It’s a very beautiful location and one we have the great fortune to be custodians of. It’s a privilege we love sharing with others”. Villa Botanica is rarely open to the public, except for exclusive weddings and special events. Profits from the open garden weekend will be donated to Quota International of Whitsunday which is best known for its services to the hearing impaired. The garden will be open from 10am-4:30pm on Saturday and Sunday and the entry fee is $6.00. Over 250,000 people visit the open gardens around Australia each year.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Yoga in Paradise



Calling all Cairns yogis! Commencing Tuesday 1 September, Paradise Palms Resort and Country Club will offer twice weekly yoga classes in its beautiful tropical surrounds that are aimed at increasing spiritual, mental and physical wellbeing.

From next week, one of the region’s most experienced Hatha yoga teachers, Karen Thesinger of Xclusive Yoga will lead two, 90 minute classes from 6pm every Tuesday and 9am every Saturday.

According to Karen, yoga is a well-known, Hindu method of exercise and discipline aimed at spiritual, mental and physical wellbeing.

“I am thrilled at to have such a breathtaking environment as my backdrop to introduce the art and science of yoga. From our very first class we will explore this ancient, Eastern philosophy through the practice of ‘asanas ‘or postures that are all focused on promoting a healthy body and mind.

“These classes are open to everyone –those who are new to yoga and those continuing to develop their practice. Each class is designed to meet the individual needs of participants in a safe and encouraging environment and to inspire a sense of peace,” said Karen.

Each class comprises a series of warm-up stretches and postures, breathing techniques, alignment of postures and personal adjustments – culminating in a deep relaxation session.

Karen Thesinger is a qualified yoga teacher and member of the Yoga Teachers Association of Australia.

For more information, contact Karen Thesinger on Mobile: 0414 5232 439 or email: info@xclusiveyoga.com.au

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Two Nights for One Deal



Book a three, four or seven night Fiji Islands Cruise with Captain Cook Cruises and receive two nights accommodation for the price of one at the Radisson Resort Fiji, Denarau Island.

Situated only minutes from Captain Cook Cruises port of departure; Port Denarau, the Radisson Resort Fiji is ideally situated to provide the perfect pre or post cruise accommodation.

Prices start at only $210 per person twin share for a two night stay at the 5 star luxury beachfront
Radisson Resort Fiji. The resort is nestled around lagoon swimming pools and lush tropical gardens and has everything you want – water sports, fishing, beach activities, golf, island tours, Harmony Retreat, Fiji’s only ‘White Water’ waterslide, dedicated Kids Club and a range of dining and entertainment options.

Captain Cook Cruises offer three, four and seven night Yasawa Island cruises and a 7 nights Northern Fijian Dateline cruise aboard the 120-passenger, fully accommodated MV Reef Escape cruise ship.

Giving passengers a truly cultural experience, all cruises visit unspoilt Fijian villages and handicraft markets, experience a traditional village sevusevu ceremony and Meke and Lovo feast, tour a village school and visit a village church and experience the beautiful sounds of the children’s choir singing.

As well as being immersed in Fijian culture there is plenty of time for relaxation and appreciating the beautiful marine life while snorkelling over amazing coral reefs, lazing on warm white sandy beaches, basking in crystal clear waters or diving in spectacular blue lagoons.

The three-night Southern Yasawa Cruise departs Denarau on Saturday at 2.00pm and Early Booking Savers (EBS) fares start from $900.00 per person twin share. The four-night Northern Yasawa Cruise departs Denarau on Tuesday at 2.00pm and the EBS fare is available from $1200.00 per person twin share. The seven-night Yasawa Islands Cruise departs Saturdays and Tuesday’s at 2.00pm and EBS fares start from 1995.00 per person twin share.

Prices include all meals on board, guided village and island tours, glass bottom boat excursions, on board entertainment and use of the ship's facilities including swimming pool, spa, pool bar, sun deck, sauna, cocktail bar, day spa and library.

This deal is available until December 2009 and valid for travel 20 October 2009 – 31 March 2010 excluding 28 December 2009 – 4 January 2010 inclusive.


For further information and bookings, please contact Captain Cook Cruises toll free from Australia on 1800 804 843; Int +61-2-9206 1100, Email: fiji@captaincook.com.au or visit www.captaincook.com.au.

Migaloo Cruises the Whitsundays



John Dyson, Skipper of Fantasea Adventure Cruising vessel 'Wonder', sighted Migaloo, the Albino Humpback Whale on the way home to Shute Harbour from Hardy Reef (51 Nautical Miles from the mainland), East of the Whitsunday Islands at approximately 4pm on August 25.

He spent around half an hour observing Migaloo for all 113 guests on board.

This was a very rare sighting and is believed to be the first sighting of Migaloo in the Whitsunday waters this season.

Migaloo Cruises the Whitsundays


John Dyson, Skipper of Fantasea Adventure Cruising vessel 'Wonder', sighted Migaloo, the Albino Humpback Whale on the way home to Shute Harbour from Hardy Reef (51 Nautical Miles from the mainland), East of the Whitsunday Islands at approximately 4pm on August 25.

He spent around half an hour observing Migaloo for all 113 guests on board.

This was a very rare sighting and is believed to be the first sighting of Migaloo in the Whitsunday waters this season.

Dad Knows Size Matters!



If Dad has a green thumb, why not take him to Kings Park - the biggest inner-city park in the Southern Hemisphere - and on Fathers Day this year, the park will be in the midst of its annual Wildflower Festival.

Peruse the many displays, walk one of the many trails, and admire the Kimberley garden. And when Dad works up a hunger during the festival, shout him a hearty lunch at one of the Park's many cafes and restaurants, or head to the coast and enjoy a beer as the sun sets over the Indian Ocean.

If zooming around a race track sounds more like your Dad, then take him to Trackskill WA, where he can zoom around in a V8 Commodore. Alternatively, if Dad’s more into spectator sports, support WA’s local football league, the WAFL, and support a team in the first week of the finals, which happens over the Fathers Day weekend.

WA's South West is the perfect place to please the palette of the Dad who loves a good drop. In particular, the Margaret River and Great Southern wine regions are home to 220 grape growers and 100 cellar doors, with breweries, award-winning restaurants and much more, all making good use of the region's delectable local produce.

If Dad's a true wine lover, grab him a Cellar Door Pass. Available from the Margaret River Visitors Centre, each pass allows two people to collect special wine offers in Margaret River and the Great Southern region.

While down south, Dad might like to catch a few waves. Margaret River is one of the most consistent, scenic and laid back surfing destinations in the world, home to a huge crop of challenging and powerful waves over 40 scenic kilometres of coastline.

For a true outback adventure, take Dad on a trip to Australia’s North West. This area can provide a range of adventures, with a taste of red dust, with everything from bushwalking tours, helicopter rides, and fishing safaris – all in an area that’s still so untouched, spectacular and pristine.

Or if Dad likes a gamble, take him back to the original Goldfields for a game of Two-Up, and to uncover the history and outback legend that has become the State’s biggest region. And while there, he might want to want to check out the start of the Nullarbor Links – the longest and biggest golf course in the world which is set to open in October.

Stretching along the Eyre Highway from Kalgoorlie to Ceduna in South Australia, the recently opened 18-hole par 72 golf course spans 1,365 kilometres with one hole in a participating town or roadhouse.

Each hole includes a green and tee amongst a rugged outback-style natural terrain fairway, providing a quintessential Australian experience and a fantastic attraction for travellers along the highway.

No matter how fussy your Dad is, you can be assured Western Australia has something to satisfy him this Fathers Day.

For more information, visit westernaustralia.com

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Trekking for the Greater Good



The ultimate holiday for adventurous spirits, wanting to experience new cultures first hand and even spend their vacation time doing something for the greater good, has to be the upcoming Variety Vietnam Hills Trek & Community Project.

The trip offers travellers a unique opportunity for like adventurous and community minded peoples of all ages, to see the real Vietnam form the fascinating bustle of Hanoi to the seclusion of the Mai Chau highlands as well as participating in a community project.

The packed 13 day itinerary gives a birds eye view of daily life, including working sugar cane, tapioca, rice paddies and peach plantations while staying in charming traditional long houses and meeting indigenous hill tribes including the H'mong, Thai and Muong along the trek through remote mountainous villages in parts of the country that receives very few visitors. And the highlight, a stay at the village of Bao La commune getting to know the minority White Thai people, while constructing a much needed classroom for the village’s children, which culminates in a handover ceremony.

Participants must fundraise $7,000 to participate in the trip, of which at least half will go to Variety the children’s charity while the remainder covers the trip including return airfares (based on a Sydney departure), English speaking tour leader, accommodation on a twin share basis at standard hotels with daily breakfasts in Hanoi; home stay accommodation in Mai Chau; airport transfers if arriving an departing on group flights; all group transport; all trekking arrangements (local guides, porters, permits, sleeping gear); all entrance fees on sightseeing days; meals as mentioned in the itinerary; and arrangements for the community project. Participants are also given assistance with a Fundraising Tool Kit, with ideas, advice and support as required. For anyone that preferred to make a contribution to Variety rather than fundraise, such donations are tax deductible.

It is hoped the Trek will raise more than $100,000, some of which will be used to buy a new Variety Sunshine Coach to transport disadvantaged Australian children to extra curricular activities from sporting lessons to educational programs and holidays.

Variety NSW Chairman, Greg Edwards, said Variety’s mission is to alleviate children’s suffering wherever it occurs, commenting “At Variety we respect children, both in Australia and across the world. This journey of a lifetime will provide an unforgettable experience that participants will take away for years to come and it will leave a lasting legacy for children in a developing community and in Australia.”

If the lure of experiencing a country from this truly local perspective, meeting like-minded people, helping raise funds for kids in need and assisting with the community project, aren’t incentive enough, the Vietnam Trek is also a great substitute for a health resort, with around 14 kilometres gentle trekking a day along village paths, part and parcel of the holiday!

To register for the Trek Vietnam program please call Inspired Adventures on:
02 9262 7882 or visit: www.inspiredadventures.com.au

Save $2000 on Auckland to Sydney Fly, Cruise, Stay


SAVE AUD$2000 a couple on a 13-night fly, cruise and stay package from Auckland to Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney aboard mega-liner Diamond Princess in January next year, simply by booking through ecruising.travel

The package includes one-way air from Sydney or Melbourne to Auckland, air taxes, a night in Auckland at the Stamford Plaza with breakfast, and twelve nights aboard the spectacular 116,000 tonne Diamond Princess – one of the largest cruise ships to visit Sydney.

Diamond Princess sails from Auckland on January 16 2010, visiting Tauranga, Lyttleton for Christchurch, Port Chalmers for Dunedin, a full-day’s scenic cruise of the Fjordland National Park, Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney.

The price now starts from just AUD$1599pp twin-share through ecruising.travel (down from AUD$2599pp) including all dining in the traditional International Dining Room, either of four Anytime Dining restaurants, or a 24-hour buffet; there’s also the choice of two Speciality dining venues in which cover charges apply.

Diamond Princess also has a Wine & Caviar Bar, three lounges and bars, a patisserie, ice cream bar, pizzeria, a hamburger and hot dog grill, and daily traditional afternoon tea.

Onboard facilities include four pools, hot tubs, a spa, gym and fitness area, nine-hole putting course, virtual golf simulators, jogging track, shuffleboard and centre court, art exhibitions and lectures on areas visited.

For full details phone 1300 369 848 or visit www.ecruising.travel

Discover a Different Side of Sydney Harbour with Island Hopping



This October, the National Parks and Wildlife Service will bring Sydney’s protected Harbour Islands to life like never before. Get on board for SYDNEY HARBOUR ISLAND HOPPING, part of Crave Sydney – a major new celebration of Sydney’s unmatched way of life, offering 31 days of food, outdoor art and fun throughout October.

For the first time, Fort Denison, Shark, Clark and Garden Islands will be linked with an Island Hopper ferry ticket, with exciting and unique experiences and activities planned for each island. Sydney Harbour Island Hopping is a full day excursion with something for everyone, from the youngest school-age children through to their grandparents.

Also in October, will be the first ever RODD ISLAND TEA DANCE for lovers of the music and dances of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, and the PERFECT PICNIC for anyone looking to chill an afternoon away with their mates on Clark Island.

SYDNEY HARBOUR ISLAND HOPPING – every Saturday and Sunday between 3-18 October

Departing Circular Quay each half-hour on the first three Saturdays and Sundays of October, the Hop will be a celebration of our Harbour islands’ colonial and cultural history and natural beauty.

Be astounded by Fort Denison, which began its colonial life as a sinbin for the garrulous and unruly before becoming the centrepiece of Sydney Harbour’s defence. Learn about Sydney’s last line of maritime defence while taking tea from the battlements, as the clash of the stonemason’s hammer keeps time for the island’s all-day musical entertainments.

Marvel at the mysterious and exciting prehistoric predators and mythical indigenous creatures on Sydney’s original animal quarantine station, Shark Island. Picnic as life-sized Jurassic carnivores and their more amenable herbivorous counterparts literally bring the untouched wilderness of Shark Island to life, courtesy of groundbreaking live theatre company, Erth.

Learn to survive Australia’s natural conditions from the very people who thrived here for thousands of years, living in harmony with their environment. On Clark Island, hang out with Tribal Warriors and learn how to fish, dance and appreciate Aboriginal culture.

Discover amazing relics of Australia’s Naval history and experience the mighty power of our nation’s maritime fleet on Garden Island – the traditional home port of Australia’s Navy for over two centuries. Hold the con on a simulated open bridge of a World War II Destroyer, view the depths through the only fully operational submariner’s attack periscope available for public use in Australia, and learn about military technology and ordnance of yesterday and today.

The Sydney Harbour Island Hop will depart Circular Quay every half hour between 9:00am and 3:00pm on the first three Saturdays and Sundays of Crave Sydney, between 3 and 18 October. Ticket prices, which include all ferry passes, and the exciting and captivating experiences planned on each, are $48.50 for adults, $35.00 for concessions and $16.50 for children. A transaction fee will apply. For more information or to book, visit www.harbourislandhopping.com.au or call Ticketmaster on 136 100.

RODD ISLAND TEA DANCES – Wednesday 21 and Thursday 22 October

Be transported to the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s as Rodd Island hosts Tea Dances on 21 and 22 October. Offering up everything from the Charleston to the pulsating rhythms of Latin America, the New Trocadero Dance Orchestra will set the mood for the romantic and sophisticated Tea Dances.
The dances will be held in the colonial style dance hall, built in 1889 and home to one of the best spring dance floors in the southern hemisphere. Dance the day away or just enjoy the atmosphere, whether reliving the majestic musical period or experiencing it for the first time.
With three two hour sessions per day at 11am to 1:00pm, 1:30pm to 3:30pm and 4:00pm to 6:00pm, the Rodd Island Tea Dances will be great for anyone keen on the music and dances of the era. The ticket price of $50.00 per adult ($40.00 concession) includes return ferry transfers from Circular Quay and all dining and entertainment on the island. A transaction fee will apply.
For more information or to book, visit www.harbourislandhopping.com.au or call Ticketmaster on 136 100.

PERFECT PICNIC – Sunday 25 October

If the idea of an afternoon hanging out with your mates on one of Sydney’s harbour islands grabs you, the Perfect Picnic on Sunday 25 October is for you.
DJ Lady Tre will set the ambient mood for an afternoon chilling on Clark Island. Bring your own picnic and drinks, with prizes throughout the day for the best costumes and picnic setups. Explore the island and get into group games, or just lay back among the trees in the biggest picnic Clark Island has ever seen.
The ticket price of $50.00 per adult ($35.00 concession) includes ferry shuttles to and from the island, which will leave Circular Quay every half hour between 11am and 5:30pm on the day. A transaction fee will apply. For more information or to book, visit www.harbourislandhopping.com.au or call Ticketmaster 136 100.

About Crave Sydney
Sydney Harbour Island Hopping is one of seven events in Crave Sydney. Other events include Sydney International Food Festival, Art & About, Darling Harbour Fiesta, World’s Funniest Island, Seven Bridges Walk and Breakfast on the Bridge. To plan your Crave Sydney experience visit www.cravesydney.com .
Crave Sydney is one of five anchor events in the NSW Master Events Calendar created by Events
NSW on behalf of the NSW Government.

Celebrating 90 Years with British Airways



British Airways celebrates 90 years of leading the travel industry today. On August 25, 1919 the world's first daily international air service was launched from London to Paris, operated by Air Transport & Travel Ltd - a precursor to British Airways.

Since then, the airline has carried more than 1.2 billion customers on its extensive network, and become recognised as one of the world’s elite carriers. Next year, British Airways will celebrate 75 years of flying Down Under. On 20th April, 1935 the first flight took off from London and touched down 12 days later in Brisbane.

Paying tribute to the airline, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: "British Airways has never lost the pioneering spirit and vision that saw it take to the skies with the world's first daily international flight from London to Paris on this day in 1919.

“Ninety years on, the world's most iconic airline is still proudly flying the flag and remains a great British brand. Many congratulations to all its staff - past and present, on this special day."

British Airways chairman Martin Broughton said: “Over the past nine decades, British Airways has played its part in many historic episodes. We provided the first air links to far-flung capitals in the days of empire, flew Winston Churchill across the Atlantic during wartime, brought Queen Elizabeth back to Britain after the passing of George VI, repeatedly led the way with aircraft innovation and have often proudly transported home our sports teams from success overseas.

“We have a rich history supporting Britain and will carry this forward to our centenary and beyond.”

The airline is marking the occasion in various ways. Swarovski, the world’s leading producer of precision-cut crystal, has loaned a giant bejewelled Union Flag to the airline. The stunning 4ft by 2ft artwork is embossed with more than 126,000 crystallised Swarovski Elements ™ and will be in the British Airways arrivals lounge in Terminal 5 until September.

An internal exhibition will showcase memorabilia from nine decades of travel, while customers in Terminal 5 have been treated to cabin crew and TV personality Kirsty Gallacher modelling vintage uniforms in the terminal in the run up to its anniversary week.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Gecko’s Launches New Asian Adventures – with $150 Off!


Gecko’s Adventures has launched two new Asia brochures, packed with grass-roots adventures from Kathmandu to Kerala, Bangkok to Beijing. And for bookings made before September 30, Gecko’s is offering $150 off all the featured holidays.

Thailand may be a well-trodden tourist destination, but Gecko’s has combined the more famous tropical getaways such as Koh Phang Ngan and Samui with exploring delightful stretches of coastline, beyond the bright lights, staying in tiny fishing villages in stilt houses built over the water.

The Southern Thailand Adventure, featured in the new Asia & China 2009-2011 brochure, also visits Khao Sam Roi Yort National Park, which translates as ‘Mountain of 300 peaks’ in reference to the karst outcrops that define the landscape. As with all Gecko’s adventures, the 12-day trip is designed for maximum immersion: groups are accompanied by a Gecko’s local leader; travel is by public transport and accommodation is in family-owned properties. The trip has monthly departures, year-round, from Bangkok and costs $1245 per person, twin share, land only.

Continuing Gecko’s theme of getting off the beaten track, all Gecko’s adventures in northern India now include a homestay in the pastel-painted rural village of Tordi Garh. Gelato-coloured walls offset brilliant saris, jewel-coloured turbans - and the warm smiles and traditional hospitality of the villagers, who rarely see travellers. Gecko’s groups are hosted by the owner of the Tordi palace, a direct descendant of the feudal lord who built the palace in the 16th century.

The Hidden Secrets of India trip, featured in the India & Nepal 2009-2011 brochure includes Tordi Garh, as well as the pink city of Jaipur, the blue city of Jodhpur, the lake city of Udaipur and Agra, to visit the Taj Mahal. It also includes Ranthambore National Park, for the chance of seeing a Bengal tiger. There are monthly departures, year-round, from Delhi, costing $1895 per person, twin share, land only.

The India & Nepal 2009-2011 and Asia & China 2009-2011 brochures are out now. For all new bookings made before September 30, Gecko’s is offering $150 off all trips, for travel between November 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010.

For further information, visit your travel agent or call 1300 854 500 or visit www.geckosadventures.com to download a brochure.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Indulge in Life at The Lakes



Indulge your girlfriend, spoil your sister or escape with the man of your dreams for a sublime getaway in Cairns.

The Lakes Cairns Resort and Spa Indulgent Package starts at $357 per person for three nights accommodation in a one-bedroom apartment, a 60-minute Relaxation Massage at Reds Day Spa, Reds Pamper Pack, sparkling wine and chocolates on arrival and return airport transfers.

Only 3km from the Cairns International Airport and 3km from the Cairns CBD, The Lakes Cairns Resort and Spa is close to the city’s shops, including DFO, cinemas and within easy reach of the Great Barrier Reef and Tropical North Queensland’s rainforests.

The award-winning 4.5 star resort is situated on 4ha of lush tropical gardens, scenic lakes and large resort style pools in the heart of Cairns city’s cultural precinct.

The Lakes is a member of Vision Hotels and Resorts. For bookings and information email reservations@visionhotelsandresorts.com or call 1800 666 614.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Crave Sydney Launch



Crave Sydney is a major new event celebrating Sydney’s unmatched way of life, offering 31 days of food, outdoor art and fun.

Fast Facts:
• Crave Sydney draws together:
o Sydney International Food Festival, 1-31 October
o Art & About, 1-25 October
o Darling Harbour Fiesta, 2-5 October
o Sydney Harbour Island Hopping, 3-25 October
o World’s Funniest Island, 17-18 October
o Seven Bridges Walk, 25 October
o Breakfast on the Bridge, 25 October
• Crave Sydney is the next new anchor event on the first ever NSW Master Events Calendar launched last October.
• Events NSW estimate Crave Sydney will generate more than $6 million in economic benefit for the State.
• Crave Sydney was created by Events NSW, on behalf of the NSW Government to drive tourism, attract investment and create jobs.
• For the full Crave Sydney program visit www.cravesydney.com

CRAVE SYDNEY EVENTS

The Sydney International Food Festival (1-31 October)

• The Sydney International Food Festival (SIFF) will run throughout October.
• The festival will replace the popular Good Food Month – growing the 11 year old event into something even bigger and better.
• A major highlight will be the World Chef Showcase - bringing together Sydney’s biggest names in food as well as top chefs from around the world.
• The Festival will also include Good Food Month favourites such as Hats Off dinners, Let’s Do Lunch and the Night Noodle Markets; a huge new program of community festivals and regional food events across NSW and a Barbecue Madness Launch weekend on 3 October.
• SIFF is presented by The Sydney Morning Herald.

Art & About (1-25 October) FREE EVENT

• Unique installations, exhibitions and events enliven the laneways, parks, galleries and spaces of the City of Sydney in this annual public art festival.
• Highlights include:
o Open Gallery – an exhibition of works by contemporary NSW Aboriginal artists on street banners across the City.
o Sydney Life – a stunning outdoor exhibition of large scale photographs in Hyde Park North.
o Laneways By George! – Discover unexpected worlds in eight laneways transformed by creative installations.
o Uncover Oxford Street - intriguing shop front performances and installations, live jazz, art market and the Live Green House – showcasing sustainable design.
o I Heart Kings Cross – a community knitting installation covering trees and street poles in Kings Cross.
• Art & About is presented by City of Sydney.

Darling Harbour Fiesta (2-5 October) FREE EVENT

• Fiesta is Australia’s largest Latin American and Spanish music and dance festival.
• Fiesta will feature 70 of the best Latin bands and dance groups with 800 performers on three outdoor stages around Darling Harbour.
• For the first time in the event’s 18 year history, the program will feature two international bands – double-Grammy award winners Aterciopelados (Colombia) and exclusive to Sydney, Venezuela’s finest salsa orchestra, Bailatino.
• Fiesta is presented by Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority.

Sydney Harbour Island Hopping (3-25 October)

• Sydney’s harbour islands will be open to explore, discover and share with an Island Hopper ferry ticket.
• Sydney Harbour Island Hopping will offer unique and exciting experiences for all ages on four islands - Fort Denison, Clark, Shark and Garden Islands.
• Clark Island will host the Perfect Picnic on 25 October.
• The Rodd Island Tea Dances on 21 and 22 October will be perfect for lovers of the music and dances of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s.
• Sydney Harbour Island Hopping is presented by National Parks and Wildlife Service.

World’s Funniest Island (17-18 October)

• A two day comedy festival on Cockatoo Island, Sydney Harbour.
• With just one ticket, comedy fans can choose from 200 shows in 18 venues on Cockatoo Island.
• Acts include The Goodies and Alexei Sayle with locals Merrick & Rosso, Akmal, Fiona O’Loughlin, Heath Franklin’s Chopper, Tripod, Jimeoin, Scared Weird Little Guys, Sleek Geeks and more.
• Tickets include all shows plus ferry.
• World’s Funniest Island is presented by Australian Comedy Festival.

Seven Bridges Walk (25 October) FREE EVENT

• 25km walk around Sydney Harbour and over Sydney’s seven key bridges.
• A free community event for all ages where participants can start and finish at designated villages near one of the seven bridges along the walk.
• This year there will be an individual theme for the food, music and activities to give each Village a local community flavor.
• A great way to see Sydney, become active, improve health and raise money for four leading charities.
• Seven Bridges Walk is presented by the Pedestrian Council of Australia.

Breakfast on the Bridge (25 October) FREE EVENT

• Sydney Harbour Bridge will be transformed into the worlds most sought after breakfast destination.
• 6,000 lucky people will have the chance to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience on one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks.
• Images from Breakfast on the Bridge will be beamed around the world, showcasing again why Sydney is Australia’s number one destination.
• Breakfast on the Bridge is presented by the NSW Government and is part of Events NSW strategy to make Sydney and NSW Australia’s leading events destination

Take Part in Sea Turtle Rescue with Naturewise



Take off to blue skies and white sand beaches of Australia’s far-reaching coastlines, and join Naturewise on new hands-on conservation adventures to save our marine turtles.

Worldwide, there are seven species of marine turtles, and we are supremely lucky in Australia to have six of the seven species swimming in our waters. These wonderfully resilient creatures have lived in the oceans for more than 100 million years, adapting to constant environmental changes. But today marine turtle species are no longer able to keep up with the rapid changes to their environment, and their survival is under serious threat.

This October, join Naturewise for two weeks on the Cobourg Peninsula, a remote wildnerness found at the tip of Australia’s Northern Territory in Arnhem Land. The surrounding waters are teeming with sea life, colourful reef fish, dugong, crocodiles and dolphins, and the region is a significant nesting location for the nationally vulnerable, green turtle. As part of the small Naturewise team, participants undertake nightly patrols of the beach at Smiths Point, surveying turtle nests and providing important data for an ongoing research project in green turtle numbers and population dispersal.

An equally awesome adventure awaits in Western Australia in November and December. Travel south of Broome, to Eco Beach, a nesting region for the threatened flatback turtle species. On this Naturewise trip, participants will also undertake nightly beach patrols, assisting wildlife researchers in collating much needed data on flatback turtle populations.

With prices beginning at only $480 per person (6 days, Eco Beach), all Naturewise Conservation Holidays are fully inclusive of accommodation, delicious meals, conservation activities, project transport and experienced guide. Naturewise is limited to only ten travellers to minimise our environmental impact, and ensure a quality experience for everyone involved. We encourage early bookings to secure a place!

For full details and to make a booking go to www.naturewise.com.au or free call 1800 032 501

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

CLASSIC "YESTER-YEAR" SOUTH PACIFIC CRUISE PERU TO SYDNEY

One of the more unusual South Pacific cruise holidays for those seeking the out-of-the-ordinary, departs Lima in Peru next January for Easter and Pitcairn Islands, Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand, Hobart and Sydney.

And making this 34-night cruise all the more memorable is that it is aboard Saga Ruby that offers a unique cruising experience of classic yester-year English graciousness, ambience and indulgence for just 660-guests.

Cruiseco has a fly, cruise and stay package that includes air and taxes from Sydney to Lima, two nights in Buenos Aires with breakfasts daily, a Buenos Aires City Tour and Dinner Show, transfers and a night in Lima with breakfast.

Saga Ruby will sail from Lima’s port of Callao on January 28 2010 for a day at Easter Island with a launch or tender landing, a day at anchor off Pitcairn Island*, and days ashore in Papeete, Bora Bora, Apia, Suva, and Lautoka.

In New Zealand there’s a day each in the Bay of Islands, Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Lyttleton (Christchurch,) Dunedin, a cruise of the New Zealand Fjords, followed by Tasmania and a day in Hobart, and Sydney.

37-night Fly, Cruise and Stay prices start from $11,695pp twin-share and are subject to availability at time of booking; for more details phone 1800 225 656 or visit www.cruising.com.au for the name of your nearest Cruiseco cruise specialist Australia-wide. *Passengers do not go ashore on Pitcairn Island.

SAGA RUBY offers an elegant, award-winning Dining Room with anytime nightly dining between 6.45pm and 9pm, a casual Lido Café for breakfast and lunch, traditional English Afternoon Tea, several bars and lounges, a ballroom and live stage entertainment, spa, library and computer centre.

TD Breaking News - $181m profit for Qantas

Qantas profit slumps

Qantas has just reported a $181 million pre-tax profit for the year to 30 Jun, down 87% on last year.

Yields slipped 4.3% due to weaker domestic and international demand, while the overall load factor also fell 1 point to 79.6%.

The carrier said the result was also impacted by one-off events including $130m in extra costs due to industrial action by the Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association, and an estimated $45m hit due to swine flu.

CEO Alan Joyce said the diversity of the Qantas Group's operations had contributed to it "being one of the few airline operators worldwide to produce a full year profit, despite the impact of the global economic downturn.

"There has never been a more volatile and challenging time for the world's aviation industry," he said.

Joyce also announced the addition of four Airbus A330 aircraft, on six-year leases, to allow for Jetstar's long-haul international growth.

"These new aircraft will support the airline's growth across its internatioanl network which covers Australia, South East Asia and the Asia Pacific ahead of the delivery of the Qantas Group's first B787-9," he said

More information in today's Travel Daily

Emerald Valley Villa : Eco-Luxe Super Special



Emerald Valley Villa is the premium Luxury Villa Holiday Rental in Byron Bay. A private estate with resort style facilities located in the lush
hinterland above Byron Bay, Australia.

Eco-Luxe Super Special
AUD$750 per night, minimum 3 nights
AUD $5,000 per week until December 2009

Sleeps up to 8 people
Rates are valid from 01 August - 30 November, 2009
Spa treatments, daily housekeeping & catering can be arranged at an additional cost.

Set on 80 abundant acres, overlooking a remarkable rainforest valley in lush Byron Bay hinterland is Emerald Valley Villa - a unique, eco-friendly development providing premium luxury private rental accommodation like no other.

Creator of Emerald Valley Villa, Michael J Robison says, “Emerald Valley Villa is an exemplary model of sustainable living without compromising luxury or technology. All the building structures and grounds have been designed for minimum impact on the surrounding environment; the Villa is climate neutral and runs on 100% green power.

Emerald Valley Villa was developed as a landmark demonstration of how design, technology and ecology can combine to create luxurious living without causing harm to the earth” says Robison.

Amidst the relaxing atmosphere and scenic views, Emerald Valley Villa offers the ultimate in world-class standards within a completely private and secure environment for up to 8 people. Architectural and design elements gracing the property pay homage to Bali’s unique arts and traditions whilst embracing modern design aesthetics.

Recycled hardwoods, imported stone and marble is featured throughout the villa, right down to the hand-cut stone framing the garden flower-beds. In addition, this private estate boasts a master suite and three expansive bedrooms all with adjacent marble bathrooms opening onto private, tropical gardens.

Guests can enjoy swimming in the pure oxygenated spring water pool, complete with carved Balinese fountains and pool-side lounges, or relaxing under the stars at night in our open air Jacuzzi. Two 200 year old teak Rice Barns – one overlooking the fabulous pool, the other overlooking the valley where you can enjoy the private lake below - provide reclusive or romantic comfort day or night. During the cooler months, the floors are evenly heated by an eco-friendly thermal system, while a double fireplace offers the perfect setting for those special romantic evenings...

Onsite luxurious spa therapies including a private marble steam room, state of the art kitchen, outdoor BBQ and daily housekeeping services are available to all guests. In addition, all modern technologies are onsite including broadband internet, satellite television and telephone facilities.

For easy access to all areas of the property guests have complimentary use of the fun 4 x 4 Polaris-Ranger. Emerald Valley Villa even boasts its own private waterfall and lake complete with a custom made River Pavilion where you can spend a day in secluded paradise with an abundance of rare wildlife which will simply amaze you including our very own resident platypus'.

The extraordinary landscaping has been terraced into four levels, all carefully planted with fragrant flora including gardenias, jasmine and champaka amongst many other graceful flowers and blossoming trees.

Emerald Valley Villa is a private estate and a landmark demonstration of how design, technology and ecology can combine to create luxurious living without causing harm to the Earth. This is the ultimate retreat. Let Emerald Valley Villa take you on a mystical journey like no other...

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Is ‘Birthday Girl’ Australia’s Oldest Koala?



Believed to be Australia’s oldest koala, aptly name ‘Birthday Girl’, will celebrate her 22nd year at
the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital on Saturday 19 September. The ‘Family Fun Day’ will be
dedicated to the grand old lady with a birthday atmosphere, kid’s games, a birthday card
colouring competition, cake and educational tours of her home at the Hospital.

Now in its second year the Family Fun Day has free entry for locals and visitors from 9am to
3pm. The Hospital is the only hospital in the world that is dedicated to the care of koalas - it
treats and rehabilitates around 300 of our furry friends every year.

‘Birthday Girl’ is one of the Hospital’s earliest patients, turning 22 this year, but she has defied
her age with mischievous escapes thanks to wonder drugs. Volunteers believe she could be
Australia’s oldest koala by measurements and teeth wear. They normally live to be 15 for females
and 13 for males.

‘Birthday Girl’ first came into the Hospital in 1990 for a check and relocation and returned 4
years ago in 2005 with chronic arthritis. Anti-inflammatory drugs gave her extra willpower when
she “self-released” from a deemed ‘escape proof, fenced yard’, and needed a special operations
‘abseil’ rescue from a nearby tree.

The Hospital is run by volunteers and the Family Fun Day is designed to raise funds for the
$180,000 costs to annually run the Hospital. This includes treatment rooms, eight intensive care
units, a 24 hour rescue and treatment operation and 33 recovery yards. Visitors can meet
‘Birthday Girl’ and other koalas 7 days a week, 365 days a year from 8am to 4.30pm. Entry is
free, donations accepted, and there is a daily ‘Feed, Walk and Talk’ tour at 3pm.

The Koala Hospital is located in Port Macquarie on the Mid North Coast of NSW, 4.5 hours drive
from Sydney. Tourists from all over the world visit Port Macquarie’s Koala Hospital, which attracts
more than 24,000 visitors a year. The ‘Adopt A Koala’ package costs AU$40 per year and
includes a certificate of adoption with a photo, the name of the koala and a short story about its
life. Overseas adoptions cost AU$50, a true Aussie gift for international family and friends.

The Koala Hospital, Lord St, Port Macquarie - go to www.koalahospital.org.au or call (02) 6584
1522.

For more information on animal attractions and travel contact the Greater Port Macquarie Visitor
Information Centre on 1300 303 155 or book on-line at www.portmacquarieinfo.com.au

Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront Wins Best New Hotel at 2009 HM Awards

Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront has won Best New Hotel at the 7th Annual HM Awards Gala Dinner held on Friday 14 August 2009.

The HM Awards showcase outstanding achievements within the hospitality and tourism industry across Australia, New Zealand and some South Pacific countries and recognise  people, departments, properties and chains across 40 categories in front of the industry's leading hoteliers, staff, key suppliers and dignitaries.  

Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront, opened in March 2009, and is situated on the spectacular Darwin Waterfront.  The 120 room hotel offers guests the chance to trade in traditional accommodation for a fresh, viberant alternative with a contemporary edge.  In line with the 'Vibe' style, every aspect of Vibe Hotel Darwin has been designed to mirror a great lifestyle – the rooms are stylish, the menu in the Curve restaurant is tempting and the location provides easy access to the best that Darwin has to offer.

According to Rachel Argaman, CEO of Toga Hospitality, "We are very excited to take out the Best New Hotel Award for Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront.   This Award is a testament to our team's continued commitment to delivering a consistently high level of service and fantastic facilities for our guests to enjoy."

Vibe Hotels can be found across Sydney, Melbourne, Darwin and the Gold Coast.  Each hotel is an expression of the city village in which it is located and reflects the local surrounds from beach-chic to city-slick or urban-cool, allowing travellers to experience and absorb the essence of the destination.

For further details check out www.vibehotels.com.au

SOUTH AMERICAN ADVENTURES WITH SILVERSEA

Ultra-luxury Silversea Cruises is offering four colourful South American voyages between the vibrant cities of Buenos Aires, Argentina and Santiago (Valparaíso), Chile in December 2009 and January 2010. With great airfares available and the Qantas direct service to Buenos Aires, as well as direct LAN services from Sydney via Auckland to Santiago, spectacular South America has never been more accessible for Australian travellers.

Choose from a 16 day cruise departing Buenos Aires for Santiago on 4 December 2009, calling at the Uruguayan ports of Montevideo and Punta del Este; Puerto Madryn in Argentina, and Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands, then cruising the Magellan Strait. The all-suite Silver Cloud moves on to Punta Arenas, spending two days meandering through the magnificent Chilean Fjords and visiting the Chilean ports of Laguna San Rafael, Puerto Chacabuco and Puerto Montt. All-inclusive, cruise-only fares start from just US$7,197* per person, double occupancy. Silversea's generous fare includes luxury cruising to exciting ports; all-suite accommodation; gourmet meals; complimentary wines, Champagne and spirits, and all gratuities.

Alternatively, start your journey in Santiago and spend Christmas and New Year at sea in luxurious Silversea style, with a 16 day departure on 20 December. The festive voyage calls at Puerto Montt and Laguna San Rafael, cruising the Chilean Fjords and Magellan Strait to Punta Arenas and Ushuaia in Argentina, with its dramatic backdrop against the jagged Martial Range. After cruising Cape Horn and celebrating the New Year at sea, Silver Cloud visits Puerto Madryn, Montevideo and finishes in Buenos Aires on 5 January. Guests aboard this voyage will be entertained by fascinating guest lecturer Michael Buerk, one of Britain's leading broadcast journalists who has reported for the BBC on subjects ranging from royal weddings to the Ethiopian famine in 1984. All-inclusive, cruise-only fares start from just US$7,547* per person, double occupancy.

Slightly shorter 15 day options depart Buenos Aires on 5 January 2010 and Santiago on 20 January 2010, with fares starting from US$7,113* per person, double occupancy.

For more information please contact Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or toll free 1300 306 872 (Australia) or 0800 701 427 (New Zealand), or visit www.silversea.com

Silversea Cruises is recognised as an innovator in the luxury segment, offering guests large-ship amenities aboard four intimate vessels, Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, and Silver Whisper, all designed to offer an atmosphere of conviviality and casual elegance.  With the addition of the regal expedition ship Prince Albert II in 2008, the company's itineraries encompass all seven continents. Silversea has recently entered Luxury Travel & Style Magazine's Platinum Hall of Fame, having been named Best Cruise Line by Australian readers for the past five consecutive years. For two consecutive years Silversea has been named 'Best Luxury Cruise Line' in the TravelWeekly Asia Awards and for nine consecutive years "Number One Small Ship Line" in the Readers' Choice survey conducted by Condé Nast Traveler magazine in the USA. In 2007 Silversea was the only cruise line named in the UK edition of Condé Nast Traveller's "Top 100 Luxury Travel Experiences", at the same time topping the Small Cruise Line award for the eighth time. Silversea has been selected as "World's Best Small-Ship Cruise Line" seven times in the Travel + Leisure (USA) readers' poll and was rated Number-One luxury cruise line by high-net-worth consumers in the 2008 Luxury Brand Status Index.  


Monday, 17 August 2009

Helsinki shortlisted for the World Design Capital 2012


Following deliberations on 17 July 2009, the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) announced on behalf of the members of the WDC Jury that the City of Eindhoven (The Netherlands) and the City of Helsinki (Finland) have been selected for the shortlist of cities that will move on to the next round of evaluation in the hopes of becoming World Design Capital in 2012.

The World Design Capital (WDC) is a biennial designation appointed to cities based on their accomplishments and commitment to design as an effective tool for social, cultural and economic development. Upon careful consideration, these two applications were retained based on their ability to demonstrate their relevancy to the WDC mission and vision.

The evaluation for the WDC designation is founded on a comprehensive assessment process spanning a five-month review and deliberation period, during which time, applicants were requested to demonstrate evidence of their strengths in the following areas: Design, Programming, Infrastructure and Financing.

Mr. Jussi Pajunen, Mayor of the City of Helsinki said "We are extremely proud and enthusiastic to be shortlisted for WDC 2012. Design has a key role in all of our strategies, so being shortlisted means that the jury understood our goal to create the city of our dreams by expanding the scope of design to all activities of society – businesses and individuals, as well as to our city.

"Helsinki has a vibrant design tradition but we also know that we must go further, beyond the edge of our limits and test the boundaries of design. The WDC project is an important step in this process and will help Helsinki to put design in a truly unique position in our society. This is powered by openness. We want to invite the world design community to join this process and share the results of our work. Helsinki is ready to be designated for WDC 2012."

WDC Founding Chair and Icsid Senator Prof. Dr. Peter Zec said, "As per the jury's decision, the WDC 2012 shortlist is represented by two very qualified cities that have presented strong bids. They are already a testament to design effective cities that understand the value of the WDC designation as it relates to city development projects."

The final jury deliberation will take place in September 2009 in Montreal, Canada.

The official announcement of the WDC 2012 designated city will occur during the Icsid World Design Congress in Singapore on 25 November 2009.

www.visitfinland.com/au || www.twitter.com/VisittoFinland

New Zealand’s Best Regional Property


Blanket Bay wins the title of “New Zealand’s Best Regional Property” at the coveted HM Awards 2009

Blanket Bay’s reputation as this region’s ultimate alpine escape and New Zealand’s finest luxury lodge continues to be upheld with its win last Friday night, 14 August 2009, at the hotel industry’s prestigious HM Awards.

Spanning Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands the HM Awards are this region’s only independent benchmark for excellence in hospitality management, voted on by a panel of judges consisting of leading travel writers, hoteliers and travel industry professionals.

Philip Jenkins, Blanket Bay’s General Manager, was thrilled to hear the news: “This year we are celebrating 10 year’s of operations. This award illustrates that our long-term commitment to excellence really pays off! Even though Blanket Bay’s location and facilities are second to none in New Zealand, it is our staff that truly defines the luxury Blanket Bay experience.”

“The average tenure of staff at Blanket Bay is 6 years, with several of the key staff, including myself, having been at the property since inception. Consistency of service is what makes the difference, plus an exclusive luxury product that is based upon the principles of sustainable and responsible tourism”, states Philip.

Blanket Bay is consistently featured amongst the world’s best. Along with last Friday night’s HM Award win, Blanket Bay was one of only two resorts in New Zealand to earn a place on the presitgious Forbes Traveler list of the top 400 accommodation properties worldwide for 2008. The highly respected Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report names Blanket Bay amongst the Top 20 International Hideaways, whilst the property was also recently named Conde Nast Traveller’s Gold List Winner for Best Cuisine.

“In these troubled economic times Blanket Bay is defying the trend, with occupancy levels in the past few months above those of last year. The property is attracting a greater percentage of discerning Australian and New Zealand travellers seeking the ultimate alpine escape. We are testament to the fact that value, and not simply price, is the driving force in the luxury travel sector, even in these times ”, comments Philip Jenkins.

About Blanket Bay

Established in 1999, Blanket Bay is an expansive lakeside property on a 65,000 high country farm, combining the sophistication of the world's finest alpine lodges and the unique characteristics of New Zealand. The intimate resort consists of 12 guest rooms including spacious suites, intimate lodge rooms and elegant chalets. A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, accommodations offer travellers vast sitting rooms, king-sized beds, stone fireplaces, secluded balconies and spectacular views.

About HM Awards

In their 7th Year the 2009 HM Awards for Hotel & Accommodation Excellence received over 650 entries, and resulted in more than 1,200 people, departments, properties and chains being nominated across Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and selected South Pacific nations. The HM Awards took the form of a black tie gala dinner at elegant Dalton House, overlooking Darling Harbour at Pyrmont, Sydney on Friday evening 14 August, 2009. The event attracted the who’s who of Australia’s, and increasingly New Zealand’s, hotel industry.

Q STATION wins Mice Hotel Award at the HM Magazine Hotel & Accommodation Excellence Awards 2009

Q Station wins prestigious industry award

On Friday 14th August, Sydney's premier retreat Q Station was awarded the annual Mice Hotel Award (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) at the HM Magazine Hotel & Accommodation Excellence Awards 2009, for hotel and accommodation excellence.

Q Station was also highly commended in the Unique Accommodation and Accommodation under 4.5 star category.

"The work and dedication of the Q Station team is demonstrated in winning this award today," says Brendan Millet, GM of Q Station who accepted the Award.  "Q Station is a unique site on Sydney Harbour and everyone has worked very hard to deliver high quality service and professionalism and it is so obviously recognized by our customers and our industry."

Hosted and presented by leading industry magazine HM - Hotel & Accommodation Management, the awards are the highest recognition for the accommodation industry, applauding excellence over a range of categories, from people and departments to properties and chains.

In its breathtaking position at North Head in the natural setting of Sydney Harbour National Park, the former Quarantine Station has been beautifully restored as a unique and culturally significant hotel and conference facility with sweeping views that have been enhanced with modern conveniences.  Q Station has delivered over 360 conference and meetings since opening in April 2008, with a high proportion of repeat bookings. 

Set in tranquil and inspiring venues on a significant national heritage site, Q Station's conference rooms contrast the restoration of the original historic buildings balancing demands of conservation and comfort with modern conveniences.

Call Q Station for further information on 02 9466 1500 or visit the website www.qstation.com.au.


V AUSTRALIA SECOND PHASE EXPANSION - Thailand and South Africa



TUK TUK OFF TO THAILAND OR SAFARI IN SOUTH AFRICA!

LAUNCH FARES ON SALE 2.00PM TODAY
  • BRAND NEW INTERNATIONAL ROUTES AND DESTINATIONS FOR V AUSTRALIA
  • THAILAND, SOUTH AFRICA, LOS ANGELES
  • $399* ONE WAY “TUK TUK TO THAILAND” FARES* EX BRISBANE AND MELBOURNE
  • $1899 “FAR OUT SAFARI ” RETURN FARES* EX MELBOURNE
Australia’s new international airline V Australia today announced Phuket and Johannesburg as its next two destinations along with a strengthened focus on Melbourne just six months after launch. Four new V Australia routes to commence from December onwards include:

o Brisbane to Phuket, Thailand direct twice weekly from 22 November 2009.
o Melbourne to Phuket, Thailand direct flights 1 a week from 3 December 2009.
o Melbourne to Los Angeles, USA direct flights twice weekly from 1 December 2009.
o Melbourne to Johannesburg, South Africa direct flights from 13 March 2010.

The airline has also lodged an application with the International Air Services Commission for permission and slots to operate flights between Australia and Fiji.

To celebrate the extra destinations of Phuket and Johannesburg, special launch fares go on sale from 2.00pm today on the airline’s website starting from $399* one way to Phuket and $1899* return to Johannesburg from Melbourne. Special launch fares for International Business Class are also available from $1499 one-way to Phuket and $5999 return to Johannesburg. International Premium Economy fares are available from $899 one-way to Phuket and $2999 return to Johannesburg. All fares are fully inclusive of taxes and surcharges.

Virgin Blue Airlines Group Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey, said, ‘We believe our new destinations offer very exciting opportunities.”

“Travellers outbound will experience Australian aviation at its best to the USA, Thailand and South Africa and we have high hopes for inbound tourism as we work with partners in our new markets to help develop traffic into Australia via Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.”

“V Australia will be the only airline to offer direct flights from Brisbane to Phuket and Melbourne to Phuket, as well as from Melbourne to South Africa. The March launch of Jo’burg flights will be just in time for fans travelling to South Africa to cheer on the Socceroos at the Soccer (FIFA) World Cup,” he added.

Connecting flights will be available from other key Australian ports to both Johannesburg and Phuket.

V Australia, a member of the Virgin Blue Airlines group launched in February on the Sydney-Los Angeles route and commenced operations between Brisbane-Los Angeles in April this year.

The airline is set to take delivery of its fourth Boeing 777-300ER aircraft configured in a three class configuration.

V Australia has been an instant hit with air travellers both here and in the USA due to its blend of Virgin service and a fresh take on fully inclusive, premium airline travel at consistently affordable fares.

Feedback surveys show the airline’s favourite features to be the three class airline’s sit down bar in Business Class, fully lie-flat beds, “Red” the user friendly individual in-flight entertainment system across all cabins, twilight sky on the cabin roof, piped music and elegant Aussie wallpaper in the bathrooms and the genuinely friendly service of a proud V Australia crew.

For full details on the schedules for the new routes, log on to www.vaustralia.com.au

* All fares are for flights booked on the internet or $50 more when booked by phone. Fares are inclusive of all taxes, fees and charges and subject to availability and may not be available on all flights or peak times. A credit card surcharge of an additional $15 per person per booking is applicable. The sale fares are on sale until 31 August 2009 or until sold out and for travel from 13 March 2010 to 31 May 2010 (Johannesburg) and 22 November to 17 December 2009 & 15 January to 31 May 2010 (Phuket) For V Australia bookings log on to www.vaustralia.com.au or phone our award winning Guest Contact Centre on 13 8287 or contact a travel agent. Note: For Guests booking via a travel agent or travel management company, these new routes will be visible in the GDS system within the next 7 days.

About V Australia and Virgin Blue: V Australia is a three class boutique style airline offering the acclaimed service for which the Virgin Blue Group is renowned and a unique Australian style. On board the airline’s brand new 361-seat 777-300ER aircraft, configuration includes Business Class cabin with 33 fully lie-flat beds, Premium Economy with 40 International Club seats and 288 International Economy seats. All cabins offer the Red, state-of-the-art personal seat back entertainment, seat to seat 'chat' or competition connectivity. The airline also has two in-flight bars, mood lighting including twilight and sunset, bathrooms with piped music including a "ladies only" bathroom and other touches of Australiana from salt and pepper shakers to hidden wallpaper murals

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Winter Olympians at Perisher!


National and international athletes have descended upon Perisher, the Southern Hemisphere's largest ski resort, to compete in the Australian Moguls Championships and to polish their Skier and Boarder-Cross skills in a bid for a 2010 Olympic gold medal.

Teams from South Africa, Korea, Japan, USA, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Great Britain, Spain, China and even Greece have been spotted out on the slopes participating in a gruelling training regime, as they strive to reach the highest plateaus of their sport.

Here's a brief look at the world-class athletes currently training at Perisher in Freestyle Mogul, Skier-Cross and Boarder-Cross disciplines:

Freestyle Mogul Skiing

On Sunday 20 August, 52 of the world's best freestyle mogul skiers from Australia and overseas will battle it out on Toppa's Dream in the hope of snaring the title of Australian Mogul Champion and to earn FIS points for Olympic selection.

Toppa's Dream, located beside the Ridge Quad Chair on Blue Cow Mountain, is a favourite amongst both national and international mogul sensations. "It has been rated one of the best mogul courses in the world by all freestyle nations, in fact it is considered to be one of the top three most challenging mogul courses in the world," said Peter Topalovic, Australian Winter Olympic Freestyle Mogul Assistant Coach.

Back to defend their titles are: Aiko Umera (Japan), the current 2009 Women's World and 2008 Australian Mogul Champion, and, Osamu Ueno (Japan), the 2008 Men's Australian Mogul Champion. Nipping at their heels is international freestyle mogul skiing super star Patrick Deneen (USA), the 2009 Men's World Mogul Champion. Australian hopefuls, and prospective Australian Olympic team members, Ramon Cooper and Sam Hall are also lining up to give the current champs a run for their money.

Australia's Emma Chapman-Davies, who placed equal first with Aiko at the 2008 Australian Mogul Championships and 2006 Olympic Gold Medallist Dale Begg-Smith are recovering from knee surgery and will not be competing in this event. Both athletes however, have their sights firmly set on the 2010 Olympics. All four Australians are expected to qualify for the Australian Team heading to the Vancouver games.

Skier-Cross

Perisher has put a huge amount of effort and time into producing a world class skier-cross and boarder-cross course, complete with a "woo-tang" feature (two mini halfpipes built back-to-back, which form a "W"), critical rollers, burms, jumps and even an Olympic style start gate, to replicate sections of the course in Vancouver.

Representatives from the Swedish and Australian skier-cross teams are currently training on the course. Swedish team members Magda Iljan (three-times Winter X-Games medallist, 2007 gold medallist) and Eric Iljan will be training in the resort from 15 to 18 August. Australian 2002 Alpine Skiing Olympian Jenny Owens, a close friend of Magda's from the Winter X- Games and World Cup Circuits, has also been spotted fine-tuning her technique; she is a serious contender for a medal in the 2010 Olympic Games.

Matt Lyons, Head Skier-Cross Coach at the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia (OWIA) said, "Perisher's facilities are favoured by Olympic athletes because of the fantastic terrain on offer, great resort support and the immense time and effort they have put into building a world class ski-cross and boarder-cross track."

Boarder-Cross

The technical boarder-cross course at Perisher has great features suitable for training athletes in the lead up to the 2010 Olympics.

Two international boarder-cross teams are currently taking advantage of the course including: the Canadian team, comprising of six athletes including Maelle Ricker and Rob Fagan who have both been on the podium at World Cup and World Champion event, and the Czechoslovakia team, including World Cup winner Michael Novotne.

Australian boarder-cross athletes Damon Hayler and Alex Pullin have also been training on the course. Damon who won a World Cup event in 2009 and Alex who sneered a podium placement at the La Molina World Cup, are both on track for a 2010 Olympic medal.

Ben Wordsworth, Head Snowboard Coach at the OWIA said, "It is advantageous for international teams to train at Perisher as it has one of the closest start sections to the Cypress Venue at the Olympic Winter Games."

Set course for Caloundra


Set course for Caloundra to experience a unique amateur golf championship that offers players, partners and families the perfect short break to wind down and explore the best of Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

The 2009 Queensland Mid Amateur Golf Championship from 13-15 September at Caloundra attracts the best amateur players to play in a serious competition that also has a strong social element. The spectacular 'links' style Greg Norman designed Club Pelican is hosting the 54-hole championships that is open to male golfers aged between 30 to 54 with a maximum handicap of 15.4. The 2009 event will also see the event open for the first time to female mid-amateur golfers.

The Mid Amateur Championship is growing in popularity each year with great feedback from past participants about their experience. This event not only offers golfers a serious test of their swing but also the opportunity to enjoy time away from the course with their families and friends. There's lots within your reach including spectacular beaches and attractions such as Australia Zoo, Aussie World, UnderWater World and activities like the Big Kart Track and the Sunshine Coast Turf Club. For great deals on where to stay and what to see and do visit www.caloundratourism.com.au or phone 1800 700 899 to speak to a friendly local.

Championship entry forms and further information is available from the Queensland Golf (07) 3252 8155 or visit: www.QueenslandGolf.org.au
Nestled adjacent to the 4.5 star Crowne Plaza Pelican Waters Golf Resort & Spa the 6359 metre Club Pelican championship course blends into the natural landscape and boasts one of the finest clubhouses and practice facilities in Australia. There is plenty of other accommodation options close by and walking distance to the gorgeous beaches of Caloundra. Rydges Oasis Resort just a five minute drive away from the course and just metres from Golden Beach.

The championships also include the Titleist Interstate Teams Event for two person teams playing over 54 holes. The Footjoy Club Teams Event consists of three players from the same golf club and can be male or female of any combination.

The Caloundra Tourism Upper Mid-Amateur Division is open to men and women players aged 44 – 54 years as at the 13 September 2009.

Sensational Singapore: One City, Three Fabulous Festivals


The Lion City is the place to be for an exciting three month line up of festivals, fanfare and fun -

From August through to October, visitors to Singapore will be enthralled by three fascinating festivals celebrated by the island nation's Indian, Malay and Chinese communities – each commemorating their most auspicious days in their religious calendars.

"These three beautiful festivals showcase Singapore's eclectic cultural diversity and unique heritage and it is a wonderful time to visit the Lion City and enjoy the magic each enclave has to offer at one time," said Mr CHOOI Yee Choong, Regional Director Oceania of the Singapore Tourism Board.

Hari Raya Aidilfitri (14 August – 27 September) marks the end of the fasting month for Singapore's Malay community, with celebrations to mark this occasion held throughout the historic Kampong Glam and Geylang Serai districts. Amazing street light-ups will complement the festive atmosphere with market bazaars selling everything from traditional handicrafts to must-try Malay delicacies including nasi padang and teh tarik being held nightly from 22 August – 19 September, in Kandaher Street, near Bussorah Mall and the Malay Heritage Centre.

Local concerts featuring traditional Malay dancers will take place at the Malay Village in Geyland Serai each weekend from 9pm -10.30pm, while Malay traditional handicraft demonstrations can be seen on 5 September from 9pm -10.30pm. The Malay Heritage Centre in Kampong Glam will also showcase interactive batik and ketupat weaving workshops over the weekends of the festival.

Not to be missed, is the Iftar or 'breaking of fast' at the Sultan Mosque in Kampong Glam daily (22 August – 19 September) at 7pm (dress codes apply).

Deepavali (18 September – 25 October) celebrates the triumph of light over darkness (good over evil) and is the most important festival in the Hindu calendar. Little India will be transformed into a wonderland of thousands of fairy lights lining Serangoon Road while market stalls boom with music as shoppers search for the perfect sari, accessory, or gold jewellery items from the festive bazaars lining Campbell Lane and Serangoon Road (18 September – 16 October).

The Sri Mariamman Temple on South Bridge Road also hosts the annual Thimithi (fire-walking) Festival, which will occur this year on 5 October. In a display of breathtaking devotion and faith, Hindus walk bare-footed across a four metre bed of burning hot coals to commemorate the Goddess Drupadi.

The Navarathiri Festival (19 Sep-27 September) will take place at the Sri Sinivasa Perumal Temple, Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple and Sri Mariamman Temple. Also known as the 'Nine Nights Festival', it is celebrated in honour of the Mother Goddess and her many forms.

The Chinese Mid Autumn Festival (19 September – 17 October) is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, however the festivities last for a month. Chinatown comes alive with dazzling street light-ups, lantern displays and bustling market stalls with mooncakes and pomelos on offer at the 250 festive stalls lining the mini-streets of Pagoda, Smith, Sago and Trengganu. Mooncakes symbolise the rise of the Chinese communities, commemorating the time when secret messages were baked within, calling the locals to overthrow the Yuan dynasty in the 14th century. These days they come in a variety of favours from traditional lotus filings through to tropical fruit, and even Bailey's Irish Cream and champagne!

Nightly stage shows at Kreta Ayer Square will entertain locals and visitors alike as Singaporeans come together to celebrate this special event focusing on family unity. The shows will take place from 19 September until 3 October from 8pm – 10.30pm and fringe events will also be taking place along Chinatown Point, the Central and Albert Mall.

Join in the Mass Lantern Walk and Celebration – a colourful procession along Eu Tong Sen Street from the heart of Chinatown to the Singapore River as the festival comes to a close on 3 October at 7.30pm

For a local walking guide throughout the various enclaves, download the details at www.visitsingapore.com/1city3fest

For further details on these fantastic events and festivals, log onto www.visitsingapore.com or follow the STB on Twitter: SingaporeOzNZ.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

ENJOY A SUMPTUOUS 31 DAY DUBAI TO SYDNEY SAILING VIA SINGAPORE WITH SILVERSEA

This November, why not take the trip of a lifetime with Silversea Cruises' epic 31 day voyage from Dubai to Sydney via Singapore. Covering 16 ports in seven countries, from bustling Arabian souqs and seductive Indian cities to the powder white beaches of South East Asia and Australia's Great Barrier Reef, this fascinating cruise is aimed at the true travel enthusiast. Alternatively, guests looking for a shorter voyage can choose the 15 day Dubai to Singapore sector or the 16 day journey from Singapore to Sydney.

Departing Dubai on 18 November 2009, the ultra-luxury, all-suite Silver Whisper will call at Fujairah on the UAE's scenic East coast; vibrant Mumbai in the Indian state of Maharashtra; Mormugao in the former Portuguese enclave of Goa; Cochin in the south-west Indian state of Kerala; the popular Thai beach destination of Phuket; Penang and Kuala Lumpur (Port Kelang) in Malaysia, and the thriving island state of Singapore. The second sector of the voyage takes in one of Indonesia's oldest cities, Semarang on Java's north coast, followed by Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory; Cairns, Townsville and the Whitsunday Islands, with many opportunities to explore the Great Barrier Reef and Queensland's laid-back capital Brisbane, arriving in Sydney in time for the festive season on 19 December.

All-inclusive, cruise-only fares for the full 31 day voyage start from just US$11,379* per person, double occupancy. Alternatively, fares for the 15 day Dubai to Singapore sector start from US$5,697* or US$6,847* for the 16 day Singapore to Sydney voyage. Silversea's generous fare includes luxury cruising to exciting ports; all-suite accommodation; gourmet meals; complimentary wines, Champagne and spirits, and all gratuities.

To complement the voyage and at extra cost, Silversea guests can experience a three-night pre-cruise In the Footsteps of the Pharaohs Land Programme departing from Dubai to see the treasures of Egypt, from the Great Pyramids of Giza and the sphinx to Cairo's Museum of Antiquities and the buzzing Khan El-Khalili Bazaar. Guests can also choose from a selection of three night Silver Sights stays at luxury hotels such as Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai; The Ritz Carlton Millenia in Singapore, and The Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney.

* Subject to availability, terms and conditions.

For more information please contact Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or toll free 1300 306 872 (Australia) or 0800 701 427 (New Zealand), or visit www.silversea.com

Silversea Cruises is recognised as an innovator in the luxury segment, offering guests large-ship amenities aboard four intimate vessels, Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, and Silver Whisper, all designed to offer an atmosphere of conviviality and casual elegance. With the addition of the regal expedition ship Prince Albert II in 2008, the company's itineraries encompass all seven continents. Silversea has recently entered Luxury Travel & Style Magazine's Platinum Hall of Fame, having been named Best Cruise Line by Australian readers for the past five consecutive years. For two consecutive years Silversea has been named 'Best Luxury Cruise Line' in the TravelWeekly Asia Awards and for nine consecutive years "Number One Small Ship Line" in the Readers' Choice survey conducted by Condé Nast Traveler magazine in the USA. In 2007 Silversea was the only cruise line named in the UK edition of Condé Nast Traveller's "Top 100 Luxury Travel Experiences", at the same time topping the Small Cruise Line award for the eighth time. Silversea has been selected as "World's Best Small-Ship Cruise Line" seven times in the Travel + Leisure (USA) readers' poll and was rated Number-One luxury cruise line by high-net-worth consumers in the 2008 Luxury Brand Status Index.

NRMA Travel Quarterly Consumer travel sentiment survey results

SWINE FLU HASN'T AFFECTED TRAVEL PLANS BUT THE GFC HAS

Thursday 13 August 2009: An NRMA Travel consumer sentiment survey of 1,300 NRMA Members has revealed the swine flu pandemic has failed to dent people's travel plans but the global financial crisis (GFC) has had an impact on both business and leisure travel.

Fortunately, there is good news too for both domestic and international leisure tourism with a marked increase in positive consumer sentiment in just three months. The upbeat attitude revealed by the survey translates to a five percentage point rise in respondents believing the next 12 months will be a good time to travel and a 10 percentage point rise in people planning to take an overseas holiday.

NRMA Motoring & Services Group CEO Tony Stuart said while an overwhelming 84 per cent of respondents said swine flu had not affected travel plans.

"Swine flu has not had the same impact as the global economic crisis with just over one in ten citing the illness as a reason for less leisure and business travel," Mr Stuart said.

"The ramifications of the GFC have meant 27 per cent of respondents are less likely to travel while the economy is in its present state.

"The current economic conditions are also having an impact on business travel with 39 per cent of respondents cutting back on flights and accommodation."

Mr Stuart said the quarterly survey's baseline question asking Members if the next 12 months is a good time to travel found 77 per cent believe it's a good time to holiday, up five percentage points on the previous survey conducted in May.

"That's a lot of holiday-makers planning trips both here and overseas as the economy begins to show initial signs of recovery," Mr Stuart said.

"The survey also found 38 per cent are considering an overseas destination - an increase of almost 10 percentage points from last quarter's survey. It appears people are taking advantage of the unprecedented deals on offer for airfares and holiday packages."


Sunshine Coast Gallery Displays Unique Marine Art


Marine artist Giovanna Cattoi has about 90 minutes to capture the kaleidoscope of colour and movement on Queensland's Great Barrier Reef.

Because that's the time it takes for her oxygen tank to run out while she sketches underwater during the first step of a process that finishes with her unique paintings on display at Landsborough Galleries on the Sunshine Coast.

A seasoned scuba diver for the past 14 years Giovanna devised a technique to work underwater that involves used x-ray film clipped to a Tupperware board that allows her to make notes and sketch the creatures of the reef surrounded by a diversity of colours, shapes, patterns and textures that exist in this unique environment.

Giovanna was born in Monte Argentario near Rome and developed her artistic skills by learning from some of the country's leading artists. She moved to Adelaide in 1971 and her passion for marine art began following a holiday to Queensland.

"I had learnt to dive in Italy but arrived in Australia predominantly as a landscape painter," Giovanna said. "It only took one dive on the Great Barrier Reef and I was totally hooked with the underwater life that was before me, and from then on I started making regular visits on charter boats to reef locations to do my underwater sketches."

Because colours change as the sunlight weakens underwater a torch is used to shine on the subject to ensure a match of the true colour of the subject.

The underwater sketches are transferred to paper when Giovanna returns to the surface. She then transforms this detail into oil paintings on an acrylic base.

Anchored with weight belts underwater is not without its hazards with encounters with sea snakes, a moray eel and a Grey Nurse shark among her reef adventures.

Despite this and aged 75 she still hopes to do more diving. Her marine art has been successfully exhibited throughout Australia and hangs in many private collections. In addition, Giovanna also produces amazing sketches of Inca legends.

Landsborough Galleries is a purpose built gallery with over 300sqm of exhibition space at 27 Caloundra Road, Landsborough, and is open every day except Tuesday. Telephone (07) 5439 9943 or visit www.landsboroughgalleries.com.au

For great deals on accommodation visit www.caloundratourism.com.au or phone 1800 700 899 to speak to a friendly local.

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