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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Road Trip to Tibet's Village of Happiness

Adventure travel specialist, World Expeditions, is bracing for renewed interest in travel to Tibet, with the opening of a new border crossing and new road access allowing more convenient - and cheaper - travel between Kathmandu in Nepal and Kyirong in Tibet, dubbed the region's 'village of happiness'.

World Expeditions was the first Australian adventure travel company to run commercial treks in Tibet in 1981, and remains one of only a handful of operators offering the iconic overland journey between Kathmandu and Lhasa in September, when the new road linking the two cities is completed. The journey has been more expensive and taken longer since the April 2015 earthquake damaged the Friendship Highway, the main arterial road linking the two cities, forcing travellers to fly in and out of Lhasa and 'backtrack' to the Tibetan capital after an overland exploration.

World Expeditions CEO, Sue Badyari, said the recent opening of a new border post between Nepal and Tibet was welcome news.

"We have been watching with great anticipation since late 2016 when road works recommenced to deliver the trade and tourism route linking Kathmandu to Lhasa," Ms Badyari said. "This is the most enjoyable way to travel into Tibet using what is touted as one of the most scenic high routes in the world and it's great news that it's back to business for Tibet."

The new border post is located west of the Langtang Himal mountain range (the Friendship Highway previously used a border crossing to the east of Langtang) and new access by road opens one of the lesser known parts of Tibet: Kyirong, the 'village of happiness'.

At 2,800m high, Kyirong is known for its subtropical climate and abundant vegetation, both of which are unusual for the Tibetan plateau. It is fondly remembered by Heinrich Harrer in the autobiographical travel classic, 'Seven Years in Tibet' who lamented "I shall never cease thinking of this place with yearning", describing idyllic scenes, such as bamboo-grove, bubbling hot spring, near the banks of an ice-cold glacial river.

The new road means World Expeditions' trips to the region are now at least $500 cheaper without the need for return flights, as well as taking the traditional scenic route:

The 15 day High Road to Lhasa ( is the classic Tibetan journey – an immersive crossing of the Tibetan Plateau from fabled Lhasa to bustling Kathmandu, with a rare opportunity to see Mt Everest from a vantage point close to Everest Base Camp. Now $4,190 per person.

The 18 day Beijing to Kathmandu ( is an epic, journey across China to the high Tibetan Plateau. Now $5,390 per person.

The 20 day Journey to Mount Kailash ( is a 'pilgrimage' trek to Mount Meru, revered in both Hindu and Buddhist legends as the centre of the universe. Now $5,640 per person.

Everest Kangshung Face ( : Cross the Tibetan Plateau and trek to Kangshung, the eastern-facing (and most remote) side of Mount Everest. Now $6,590 per person.

Additional World Expeditions' trips to Tibet, including The Ancient City of Lhasa ( and Beijing to Lhasa Journey (, are unaffected by the changes.

More information at or phone 1300 720 000.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Blue Mountains Winter Festival Cancelled for 2018 - to return in 2019

Katoomba’s Winter Magic festival will not happen in 2018.

The committee voted on January 29 to cancel this year, which would have been the 25th festival. There were concerns from the traffic management company, which said it didn’t want to work on the festival “in its current state”.

Read full report

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Wonder Woman's Madame Tussauds wax figure revealed at #Supanova

The wax figure of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was dramatically revealed in front of an audience of over 15,000 Super hero fans at Supanova Sydney this afternoon.

The extremely lifelike wax figure joins equally lifelike figures of Superman, Batman and The Flash in the newest attraction at Madame Tussauds Sydney, Justice League: A Call for Heroes.

Gal Gadot was blown away by her wax doppleganger, "If you look in my eyes long enough I might blink. Such an honor! Thank you so much Madame Tussauds."

Opening on Saturday 30th June, the new interactive experience allows guests to follow Justice League as they battle the evil LexCorp.

"Australians love the Justice League so we're beyond excited to launch an epic new experience that will enable our guests to be a part of the action this June," said Mark Connolly, General Manager.

"Madame Tussauds Sydney, together with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, on behalf of DC Entertainment, has created a unique and immersive Justice League experience with exciting plans to unite an all-star cast of DC Super Heroes. It's an unbeatable roster of heroes to the sensational, hi-tech experiences and we can't wait to share it with you all."

Main image credit: Bruce Moyle - Supanova Comic-Con & Gaming.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Give Superman a hand at Madame Tussauds Sydney

Today, Madame Tussauds Sydney has put the challenge to Australia: Are you the country’s biggest Superman or Batman fan? To celebrate the upcoming launch of the world-first Justice League experience, the Darling Harbour attraction has launched a nation-wide search for the biggest superhero fans.

The competition, open to superheros of all ages, calls for Australians with a passion for superhuman action to put their case forward in the form of a video or a series of photos, accompanied with a written response to the question on everybody’s lips: ‘What makes you Australia’s biggest Superman/Batman fan?’

Budding heroes should upload their entry to Facebook or Instagram, tagging the Madame Tussauds Sydney pages and either #SupermanLeague or #BatmanLeague for their chance to win the ultimate title. For those keeping their superhuman status on the DL (down-low) from the mere mortals, privately shared entries are also accepted via the Sydney attraction’s Facebook page.

The two winners – both Batman and Superman’s individual biggest Australian fans – along with a guardian or friend will be flown (the mortal way, sorry…) to Sydney to be the first to meet their idols at the exclusive launch party of the epic, new experience on Thursday 28th June. The winners will also have the chance to meet-and-greet stars of both wax and flesh alike, take home a Justice League prize pack and more!

“We know how much Australians love the Justice League – we’ve had tonnes of requests to welcome their figures to the Madame Tussauds Sydney family over the years! Pair these incredible figures with sensational, hi-tech interactive experiences, and a world-first moving wax figure; the Justice League: Call for Superheros experience is our biggest and best yet!” says Mark Connolly, General Manager.

“We’re beyond excited to launch this epic new experience, and can’t wait to bring along the country’s biggest fan, have them meet their very own hero and be the first to be a part of the action!”

The Justice League: Call for Superheros experience at the Sydney attraction opens on Saturday 30th June, and features an all-star cast of DC Super Heroes in an action-packed adventure unlike any other. Guests will star alongside Justice League’s Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Henry Cavill as Superman, Ben Affleck as Batman, and Ezra Miller as The Flash as they fight to save the world from Lex Luthor’s evil corporation, LexCorp.

The search for Australia’s biggest Superman and Batman fan commences 12am on Tuesday 5th June and closes at 11.59pm Sunday 17th June. Winners will be contacted privately and announced on Facebook and Instagram on Monday 18th June.

For full competition terms and conditions, tickets and more information, visit or follow Madame Tussuads Sydney on Facebook and Instagram to keep updated with the Justice League journey.

Scenic World to operate Sydney Harbour Bridge tourism - taking over from BridgeClimb

Hammons Holdings - owner of Scenic World in the Blue Mountains- has welcomed its appointment as the new operator of Sydney Harbour Bridge tourism, saying that expanding access and affordability was a key priority in its 20-year vision for the Bridge.

NSW Roads and Maritime Services today announced that Hammons Holdings, a third-generation family-owned tourism business, will have the right to operate climbing and other tourism activities on the Bridge for the next 20 years.

The appointment followed a competitive tender process whose participants included national and international entities.

Hammons Holdings CEO, David Hammon, said Hammons would be drawing on more than 70 years of successful operations at Scenic World to inject new life into the Bridge experience for local, interstate and international visitors.

“It’s a privilege to be entrusted with Bridge tourism operations and we are grateful to the State Government for the opportunity,” Mr Hammon said.

“The Bridge is already an iconic structure, recognised around the world. We want to make it a must-see destination for Sydneysiders and visitors to Sydney, regardless of physical or financial restraints. Our experience building Scenic World into one of Australia’s most popular destinations shows that we can drive visitor numbers and increase economic value while respecting unique heritage and environmental values.

“Our vision is to recreate the people’s Bridge – we will be exploring ways to safely expand access to new areas of the Bridge, use innovative technology to bring the Bridge to life, and make its history and connectivity a more central part of the experience.

“We acknowledge the pioneering work of Paul Cave in developing the Bridge into a popular tourist destination and look forward to working in partnership with the Government to build on that work,” he said.

Hammons Holdings has been operating Scenic World, set on a World-Heritage listed site in the Blue Mountains, for more than 73 years. With a strong safety record achieved in a challenging outdoor environment, Scenic World is now Australia’s most-visited privately-owned attraction, hosting more than one million visitors annually, 60% of whom are international visitors.

Hammons Holdings is also an early-stage investor in Sydney Zoo in Western Sydney. The Sydney Harbour Bridge appointment positions the company to create a corridor of iconic visitor experiences spanning the Bridge, Sydney Zoo and Scenic World.

The end of the line for BridgeClimb Sydney

On 15 June 2018, it was announced by the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) that BridgeClimb Sydney had been unsuccessful in its bid to win a new 20-year contract to operate on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The world-famous experience was also a world first, pioneered and brought to government by our Chairman and Founder Paul Cave.

BridgeClimb has summited 4 million Climbers from over 140 countries since opening on 1 October 1998. BridgeClimb turned the Sydney Harbour Bridge from a postcard to a global bucket list experience. The Climb is renowned as a world-class experience and operation, and has an unblemished safety record, without one serious injury in 20 years.

Paul Cave - saying goodbye to
BridgeClimb after 20 years (Rod Eime)
Every aspect of the experience has been carefully crafted and endlessly innovated by BridgeClimb.

Paul thanked all our Climbers and customers, and praised the team for their individual achievement in creating a globally renowned tourism experience. He thanked all of BridgeClimb’s business and tourism agency partners for their support.

He said ‘it has been a privilege for us to make a hero of the Bridge, and of every Climber on every Climb. We will continue to create unforgettable memories until our final Climber.’

He added ‘our team have worked tirelessly to deliver the ultimate experience of Sydney. Over 1,500 team members have made a hero of the Bridge, and of every single Climber and visitor since 1998. Every one of our past and present team can hold their heads high on what we have created together. The team and our customers are our immediate priority.’

BridgeClimb also thanked the Sydney Harbour Bridge Workers past and present who maintain the mighty Sydney Harbour Bridge.

For all Customers booked up until 30 September 2018, BridgeClimb will be Climbing as usual. For any customers with Climb bookings for after 30 September 2018, BridgeClimb will be in contact when there is further clarity regarding these bookings.

Paul finished,’ we will not be making any further statements at this time. Our focus is on our customers, our team, and on preserving our brand, equipment and expertise for future opportunities.’

Editor's Note: It's official. Sydney attractions operator, Scenic World, will be the new leaseholder for the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. 

Canada throws down the gauntlet to Africa with exceptional wildlife encounters


Canada is rivalling the world's iconic wildlife destinations as a prime location for animal encounters, voted second behind Africa in the Readers' Choice edition of International Traveller magazine.

More than 3000 readers divulged their favourite place, 'Where you go to be one with wildlife and nature', with Canada coming in ahead of New Zealand, Malaysia, and Galapagos.

"Increasingly, Aussie travellers are choosing Canada to tick of their bucket-list dreams, including getting up close with awe-inspiring fauna in their natural habitat," said Donna Campbell, Managing Director, Destination Canada GSA.

"The stunning vistas of the Canadian Rockies, the vast, mountainous wilderness of places like Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories, and the Arctic tundra of Manitoba, are as mind-blowing as the wildlife that live there."

Aussies are exploring Canada in increasing numbers each year, playing wildlife bingo with Canada's 'Big Five'. Just which creatures make up the 'five' is a matter of opinion and could include moose, bear, elk, wolf, whale, bison, caribou, and bighorn sheep, to name a few.

"Our Big Five are frequently encountered during road or boat trips through Canada's west, but Canada's diverse forest habitats mean you're bound to witness unique fauna right across the country, from enormous bison and quirky mountain goats, to our smaller critters, such as beavers, porcupines and countless bird species."

Canada's arctic animals, most easily viewed in the central province of Manitoba, include the polar bear, arctic fox, beluga whale, and the mystical narwhal.

Bird watchers have the best chance of viewing bald eagles in British Columbia, while Witless Bay Ecological Reserve in Newfoundland and Labrador is home to more than 500,000 Atlantic puffins, with their distinctive black and white plumage, and bright orange beaks.

"Whether travelling solo, in a group, or with family, many Aussies are taking advantage of the numerous wildlife packages that are available through local tour operators, taking the stress out of planning their holiday," said Donna.

"Outfitters like Adventure World offer polar bear tours that allow you to come face-to-face with these humbling beasts from the comfort of Polar Rover vehicles, while Intrepid and Canada and Alaska Specialist Holidays provide tours of the Rockies and self-drive itineraries, including world-class whale watching and wildlife spotting."

Other heart-stopping Canadian wildlife experiences include witnessing the thundering caribou migration, locking eyes with the elusive Spirit Bear, snorkelling with friendly beluga whales, and watching the rivers run red during the salmon run, as thousands of fish swim upstream, attracting eagles and other predators along the way.

"Canada's wildlife experiences offer so much more than just animal encounters," said Donna. "Travellers have the chance to immerse themselves in pristine wilderness, learn about the First Nations people who live there still, and get to know the friendly locals, who often become lifelong friends."


Air Canada offers daily direct flights to Vancouver from Sydney and Brisbane. Additionally, Air Canada has now commenced year-round direct flights from Melbourne to Vancouver from June 2018. Direct flights from Sydney to Vancouver are also available on Qantas.

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The Expeditionist
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