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Monday, July 6, 2015

This is WA July 2015 - Travel and Lifestyle News from Western Australia


In this month's edition of This is WA, read about major upgrades planned for Busselton Airport in Australia's South West, COMO Hotels and Resorts making its first entry into Australia's hotel market on the site of Perth's Old Treasury Buildings, and the unveiling of a new restaurant at Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm in Australia's North West. There's also all the latest news on WA tours, accommodation, food, wine and events.

What's Hot
South West to take off with airport upgrade
Interstate visitors will soon be able to fly directly to WA's South West region, with the State Government announcing the $59.7 million expansion of Busselton Regional Airport. The airport's infrastructure developments will allow for new interstate airline routes, including direct flights from Australia's east coast. The South West is home to the popular Margaret River region and premier tourist attractions and events including the Margaret River Gourmet Escape, Drug Aware Pro and Cinefest Oz. A surge in visitor numbers is expected following the completion of the airport's transformation in mid-2018.
www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/Barnett/2015/06/Busselton-opens-up-for-interstate-visitors.aspx
Como Hotels makes first entry into Australian hotel market
Singapore's COMO Hotels and Resorts will make its first entry into Australia's hotel market on the site of Perth's Old Treasury Buildings, in the soon-to-be-completed Cathedral Square precinct. The luxury 48-room hotel will be complemented by wining, dining, and retail outlets, including a rumoured landmark rooftop restaurant housed in a glass box. The precinct has undergone a period of significant transformation including the restoration of the State Buildings, a new office tower, the new City of Perth Library, construction of the new St George's Chambers, an upgrade to St George's Plaza plus new commercial and public spaces. Located in the Perth CBD bordered by St Georges Terrace, Barrack Street, Hay Street and Pier Street, Cathedral Square is a $584 million development. It's scheduled for completion in the second half of 2015.
www.cathedralandtreasury.com.au  
The whales have arrived in Western Australia
Another bumper whale watching season is on the cards for WA. Margaret River tour boat operators Legend, Naturaliste, All Sea Charters and Whale Watch Western Australia have officially commenced whale watching tours from the new $36 million boat harbour in Flinders Bay, Augusta. Up to 35,000 humpback and southern right whales, and even the occasional rare blue whale, travel through the waters on their northern migration. Whales watching tours have also started in Broome and will run through to October. The world's largest pod of humpback whales, estimated up to 40,000, mate and give birth in the Indian Ocean around Broome at this time of year, making Broome one of the best spots to watch humpback whales in the world.
www.margaretriver.com/tours/ 
www.visitbroome.com.au/to-do/tours/whale-watching
Major Elizabeth Quay updates revealed 
Plans have been unveiled for an 18-storey hotel at Barrack Square on the eastern gateway to Elizabeth Quay in Perth city. The DoubleTree by Hilton Perth Waterfront Hotel will have 229 rooms and a rooftop bar with panoramic views of the city and iconic Swan River. Forward works are due to start in the next three months. Meanwhile, a 29-metre sculpture designed to represent ripples and to link the Swan River, land and sky has been selected as the major artwork at Elizabeth Quay. The $1.3 million sculpture is made from steel and carbon fibre and will be located on The Landing at the northern end of the quay. Stage One of Elizabeth Quay construction is due to be completed later this year. Elizabeth Quay is a $2.6 billion project which plans to revitalise central Perth and return the city's focus to the iconic Swan River. 
www.mra.wa.gov.au/projects-and-places/elizabeth-quay


Lifestyle and Culture
Bakery art to jump out at South West tourists
Commuters travelling between Perth and the South West will have a good reason to stop during their travels with the launch of a new Miami Bakehouse at Myalup, scheduled to open in September. The new property will be located 30 minutes south of its current (and highly popular!) West Pinjarra site. To help launch the opening, the bakery is installing life-sized fibreglass kangaroos at the new Myalup bakery, as part Miami Bakehouse's KangaART project. The kangaroo's eye-catching patterns and colours were inspired by a number of well-known identities including the Wiggles, comedian Peter Rowsthorn and Australian cricket star Mitchell Johnson and wife Jessica Bratich-Johnson. In other news, Miami Bakehouse won several first place wins at the Western Australia Baking Industry Awards held in May. A favourite among WA locals, the popular bakery took home eight golden crowns for its delicious delights including Miami's Anzac biscuit, caramel slice, Ciabatta loaf and chocolate mudcake.
www.miamibakehouse.com.au
Winter Garden festival comes to Fremantle
Fremantle Esplanade, located 30 minutes from Perth, will be transformed into a magical festival dedicated to the delights and traditional wonders of a white winter, as part of Winter Garden. The festival runs from July 1 to 26 and includes the return of Australia's biggest outdoor ice rink, falling snow, a mountainous pop-up slide, carnival rides and much more. Winter Garden is free to enter, although tickets must be purchased for ice-skating and some activities. A handpicked selection of local Fremantle businesses and food operators will take up residency for the duration of the event, offering tasty food options including gourmet burgers, hot spuds, paella and more.
www.fremantlestory.com.au

Food and Wine
Cygnet Bay Peal Farm welcomes new restaurant 
Located on the Dampier Peninsula, 200 kilometres north of Broome in WA's North West, the Shell restaurant at Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm opened in April 2015. With views across the waters of the pearl farm towards Shell Island, the restaurant is the only licensed restaurant on the peninsula, and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner offering modern Australian cuisine using local produce, and pearl meat fresh from the farm – the only Australian restaurant to serve fresh pearl meat direct from the farm. Pearl meat, the adductor muscle of the oyster, is a seafood delicacy with a fresh taste and tender texture. In season, Shell runs pearl meat degustations during the annual pearl harvest. Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm is the oldest operating pearl farm in Australia and was established in 1946. As well as its restaurant, Cygnet Bay operates land and water-based tours of the farm.
www.cygnetbaypearls.com.au
High profile chef to open new Perth restaurant
The State Buildings will welcome a new restaurant later this year with Thai food guru and chef David Thompson choosing Perth as the city for his celebrated return to Australia. The world-renowned chef will open Long Chim at the site of FJM Property's Old Treasury redevelopment. Handpicked staff will dish up Thompson's signature food in a dynamic environment of street art, cellar bar and edgy shows including Thai burlesque. Thompson plans to spend time in Perth to recruit staff and source locally grown ingredients that give Thai food its unique flavours.
www.cathedralandtreasury.com.au
Ultimate Gourmet Escape in Margaret River
Three Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia members – Vasse Felix, Leeuwin Estate and Voyager Estate – have created the Ultimate Gourmet Escape. The three-day wine trail begins on November 20 and will take guests behind the scenes during the Margaret River Gourmet Escape (MRGE) weekend with access to exclusive experiences. This year, MRGE will take place from November 20 to 22, and the chef line-up will be announced later this month.
www.gourmetescape.com.au 
www.ultimatewineryexperiences.com.au/?cm_mid=4769312&cm_crmid=ccdf83e8-d6f2-e411-ad52-0050569b211c&cm_medium=email
Broome's food scene receives boost from local operator
Willie Creek Pearls has opened two new hospitality venues in Broome, adding to the town's diverse culinary scene. The new venues include The Zookeepers Store, located at Cable Beach, which specialises in bread, pastries and coffee; and The Grill at Willie Creek Pearl Farm, located 38 kilometres from Broome town. The Grill offers visitors an expanded dining experience and is currently in the application process for a liquor licence.
www.facebook.com/zookeepersstore
www.williecreekpearls.com.au
MRHG to launch third establishment
Locally brewed craft beer and great food with a seafood slant will feature at The Common, Margaret River's newest establishment and the third owned and operated by the Margaret River Hospitality Group (MRHG). The new venue is a cool yet comfortable casual bar and bistro located at the Margarets Beach Resort complex in Gnarabup, on the coast of the Margaret River region. The Common is scheduled to open in early August, and will be open seven days a week from 4pm Monday to Friday, and from 12pm on weekends in off peak season, and will be open seven days per week from 12pm in peak season.
www.mrhg.com.au

Tours, Attractions and Accommodation
Broome's Mangrove Hotel reopens for business
A revitalised Mangrove Hotel has launched in Broome, following a $7 million refurbishment. The hotel's 60 rooms and suites have undergone a sleek and modern makeover, while the entertainment area has been reborn as The Bay Club, and now features an indoor and outdoor bar, casual dining and lounging zones, and cosy cabanas, daybeds and sun loungers overlooking the water. Local chef Matt Puncher has developed a menu which is focused on fresh and seasonal produce, and boasts modern fare, classics and new innovations. The property provides sweeping views across Roebuck Bay which is one of the best places to view Staircase to the Moon – a natural phenomenon which happens when the full moon rises over the exposed mudflats at extremely low tide and creates an optical illusion of stairs reaching to the moon.
www.mangrovehotel.com.au
Rockingham Wild start Three Islands Winter Cruise
Rockingham Wild Encounters' newest tour, Three Islands Winter Cruise, allows guests to enjoy the scenic highlights of the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park. The 60 minute cruise on board a glass bottom boat takes in the ruggedly spectacular coastlines of Penguin, Seal and Bird Islands, while taking advantage of the best wildlife spotting opportunities of the day. Wild dolphins, sea lions, pelican rookeries and nesting ospreys are regularly sighted on the cruise. The coastal town of Rockingham can be reached in 40 minutes by car from Perth.
www.rockinghamwildencounters.com.au
APT unveils a new pavilion at Mitchell Falls Wilderness Lodge
Guests who stay at APT's Mitchell Falls Wilderness Lodge in 2015 will be the first to experience the new Ungolan Pavilion. Built with the support of the local Kandiwal community, it features a fusion of Indigenous and Australian design influences.  Facilities include a lounge, bar, library and dining areas, along with an Indigenous art gallery, with 100 percent of proceeds going to the local community. A commercial kitchen has also been added and the already exceptional standard of cuisine being served at the Lodge is set to be elevated further. APT's Mitchell Fall Wilderness Lodge, located in WA's North West on the Mitchell Plateau, offers 24 tented cabins with double or twin beds all with ensuites, providing visitors a touch of luxury in the outback. Included with every stay is a gourmet three course evening meal and breakfast.
www.kimberleywilderness.com.au
New smartphone app puts more than 100 parks in your pocket
The Department of Parks and Wildlife has released ParkFinder WA, a new app for smartphones which enables users to plan their outdoor escape with the tap of a finger. The app allows users to search more than 100 sites within 150 different parks in WA by map, park name, and parks near the user. It also allows users to filter search results by available activities and facilities, and displays alerts for closures, hazards and upcoming camping vacancies. Once downloaded, no data connection is required although periodically refreshing will give access to the most current data and the latest parks alerts. An Android version is in development. Download ParkFinder WA here - https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/parkfinder-wa/id937663965?mt=8
http://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/
Explore wildflower country with Global Gypsies 
With more than 12,000 species of wildflowers scattered across 2.5 million square kilometres of terrain - 60 per cent of which can only be found in Western Australia, it's no surprise Western Australia's wildflower season draws visitors from near and far. Australian touring and 4WD training company Global Gypsies has teamed with RAC Travel to launch Wildflower Caravan Safari, a fun and education tour exploring WA's wildflower country from October 2 to 12, 2015. The on-road driving experience welcomes caravans, motorhomes and camper trailers to explore the spectacular 'Wildflower Way' for 11 colourful days, visiting horticultural hot-sports including Mt Leseur National Park, Mullewa and Wongan Hills. The self-catered safari also involves star-gazing evenings, guided bush walks and optional towing seminars. Convoy number are strictly limited so book now.
www.globalgypsies.com.au
Willie Creek Pearls launch new cruise experience for Broome visitors 
Willie Creek Pearls has launched a new cruise vessel offering visitors a unique tourism experience from Broome to Willie Creek Pearl Farm. The new vessel 'Gumin' offers a completely new adventure for Broome visitors with a scenic cruise across azure blue waters as an alternative transfer option to the famous pearl farm. The tour features a ship to shore transfer on 'sealegs', commentary and the opportunity for guests to see an array of bird and marine life, in particular the humpback whales which are currently in season.
www.williecreekpearls.com.au

FEATURE
Fremantle renaissance
The eclectic and multicultural port city of Fremantle – famed for its vibrant music and arts scene, cafes and bars, boutique breweries and historic streetscapes – is about to embark on its biggest transformation in 30 years.
Similar to Perth city - the change in liquor licensing laws and the strong Western Australian economy has meant that Fremantle has already welcomed new small bars and dining options. The Mantle, Bread in Common, Bathers Beach House, The Raw Kitchen, Bib & Tucker, The Shipping Lane and Propeller are just some of the newcomers. On the hotel front - The Hougoumont and Be. Serviced Apartments – offer visitors fresh new boutique accommodation. DoubleTree by Hilton will open a new 150 room hotel overlooking Princess May Park in Fremantle in 2017.
Exploring Fremantle
'Freo' as it's known to locals is located only 30 minutes-drive or train from Perth city.  Spend the day exploring the city's many galleries, including contemporary and traditional Aboriginal; browse the iconic Fremantle markets; unwind at one of the many cafes and restaurants; enjoy live music at one of the historic bars or check out some of the local designer labels.
The main hub of activity can be found along South Terrace or the' Cappuccino Strip' as it is affectionately known, and the streets between High and Norfolk. Within Fremantle itself new food, wine and fashion hubs are sprouting. Check out South Fremantle – the southern end of South Terrace, North Fremantle – off Queen Victoria Street and Stirling Highway and the historic George Street precinct in East Fremantle.
Established in 1829 as a port for the fledgling Swan River Colony, Fremantle has a fascinating maritime and convict history. Boasting the best preserved example of a 19th century port streetscape in the world -  over 150 buildings in the port city are classified by the National Trust, including The Round House (1831), The Esplanade Hotel (1890s) and the Fremantle Prison (1850s).
Fremantle also retains its strong connection to the sea and is home to a 500-strong fishing fleet, hundreds of yachts and pleasure craft, and two significant historical replica ships The HMS Endeavour and the Duyfken, which was the first Dutch vessel to chart the Australian coastline in 1666. The Maritime Museum at Victoria Quay is a must visit.
SEE & DO
  • Enjoy a coffee and soak up the atmosphere along the famous 'Cappuccino Strip', located on South Terrace – or explore the side streets and discover great little gems such as The Attic at 16 Bannister Street www.theatticfremantle.com.au 
  • Potter through the fresh produce and exotic flavours at the 100-year-old Fremantle Markets. 
  • Be entertained by a local busker or check out one of the city's live music venues such as Mojo's Bar and X-Wray.
  • Enjoy fresh fish and chips straight off the boat at Fishing Boat Harbour – Cicerellos and Kailis are much loved by locals and visitors.
  • Discover Fremantle's history and present day culture on one of the city's many self-guided walking trails. 
  • Step inside and do time with experienced guides on a fascinating Fremantle Prison day tour. Explore the labyrinth of tunnels 20 metres below ground by foot and by boat
  • Visit the WA Maritime Museum at Victoria Quay, Fremantle Arts Centre or one of the many other museums and galleries such as the Moores Building Contemporary Art Gallery. 
  • Sample boutique beer at one of the great microbreweries, such as Little Creatures and the Sail & Anchor.
  • Fremantle is a shopaholic's heaven, with a huge range of eclectic retailers. Find fashion, jewellery, crafts, original artworks, homewares and quirky gifts along High and Market Streets and a few of the smaller side streets off South Terrace, such as Essex Street, which has recently welcomed fashion newcomer Bobby & Olive. 
  • Enjoy one of Fremantle's many festivals throughout the year, like the Fremantle Street Arts Festival, Winter Garden festival, the Community Fringe Festival and West Coast Blues and Roots Festival.
www.westernaustralia.com/fremantle 
www.visitfremantle.com.au

Events
JULY
Goldfields Kidsfest
July 4-5 
Kalgoorlie, Australia's Golden Outback
The Goldfields Kidsfest features 13 different zones where children can participate in interactive and educational workshops and activities. The 13 zones include science, construction and mining, adventure, outdoors, creative, under 5's, busy bodies sports, music, kids kitchen and main show arena.
www.goldfieldskidsfest.com
Mowanjum Festival
July 9
Derby, Australia's North West
A public concert featuring more than 200 Aboriginal performers from across the Kimberley region. The festival is a celebration of Indigenous cultural life for the people of the Kimberley, in particular the Worora, Ngarinyin and Wunumbul people involving dance, music, song, story and art. Prior to the performance, free afternoon workshops are held by Aboriginal artists which include Boab Nut carving, Ochre painting and Didgeridoo playing.
www.mowanjumarts.com
A Taste of Broome
July 16, August 13, September 10
Broome, Australia's North West
A Taste of Broome is a unique multi-arts performance and cuisine experience created around the distinctive Indigenous culture within Broome's multicultural community. It promotes the vibrant soul that is the essence of Broome's identity, and showcases local music, media, dance, food, arts and crafts, tradition and heritage. Monthly A Taste of Broome events are held from April until September.
www.goolarri.com/atob/
AUGUST
Nannup Flower and Garden Festival
August 14-17
Nannup, Australia's South West
The Nannup Flower and Garden Festival includes a wine dinner, open gardens, art workshops, quilt displays, garden talks and market stalls. The main component of the event is the floral display at the Town Hall. A new element was added to the 2013 event program titled Garden Gourmets, featuring regional food and wine products. Evening entertainment and regional choir performances are also provided.
www.nannupgardens.org.au
CinéfestOZ
August 26-30
Bunbury and the Margaret River region, Australia's South West
CinefestOZ will take place over five days in August, showcasing some of the best Australian and French films, as well as filmmaker forums, film premiers, free community screenings and gala events. Cinefest OZ boasts the nation's richest film prize of $100,000 for an Australian feature film, a major drawcard for the diverse pool of talent.
www.cinefestoz.com
Shinju Matsuri
August 28 to September 6, 2015
Broome, Australia's North West
Japanese for Festival of the Pearl, Shinju Matsuri celebrates the unique culture, history and diversity of Broome. A traditional Chinese dragon is the centre-piece of the festival, and people proudly display their ethnic origins, and celebrate a pearling history that has made their getaway town the envy of the world. The festival will tempt your senses with an exciting whirlwind of colour, sound, taste and smell.
www.shinjumatsuri.com.au 
SEPTEMBER
Telstra Perth Fashion Festival
September 15-20, 2015
Perth, Experience Perth
Perth is fast becoming a fashion hot spot and with iconic events like Telstra Perth Fashion Festival, there's little wonder why. Now in its 17th year, the Festival sees fashionistas experiencing high fashion events at a range of unique venues. With world-class runway shows, free public events and fashion lunches, the Festival's line-up keeps getting better.
www.telstraperthfashionfestival.com.au
Red Earth Arts Festival
September 18-27, 2015
Karratha, Australia's North West
The Red Earth Arts Festival (REAF) is one of Australia's largest regional arts festivals. Taking place in the City of Karratha, REAF will host a range of events for everyone. There will be activities for kids, a live music night with Bluejuice and Miami Horror, dance performances, a huge film festival, a street festival launch and an adults only Vaudeville Village night. 
www.karratha.wa.gov.au/events/reaf-2015
XXXX Gold Kalgoorlie Cup
September 27, 2015
Kalgoorlie, Australia's Golden Outback
The Kalgoorlie Race Round features the Boulder Cup, Hannans Handicup and culminates in one of the Goldfield's most iconic events, the XXXX Gold Kalgoorlie Cup, where professional jockeys battle it out on the 2,300m track for a handicap of $160,000 plus trophies valued at $3,135 for the owner, $1,780 for the trainer and $1,780 for the rider.
www.kbrc.com.au/race-round-kalgoorlie.php

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