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Friday, May 30, 2014

Motorcycle Tourism Attracts Visitors to Australia

Australia has long been a favoured destination for those interested in travelling cross-country by campervan, with its wide open spaces and well-equipped camping facilities. The landscape lends itself well to adventure.

Yet a new breed of road tripper is also visiting Australia in vast numbers. Motorcyclists are visiting the country to go touring, drawn to popular scenic trails as well as recreational motorsports festivals. Australian residents are also enjoying the country's motorsports events and using motorcycles for weekend recreation. As a result, regional governments like Victoria's are crafting new strategies to both attract and protect motorcycle tourists in Australia.

Motor Bike Image
Image Source: Stefan Jurgensen/Flickr
New Tourism Strategy
In a bid to grow the motorcycle touring niche market, the Victorian coalition government has launched a Motorcycle Tourism Strategy for 2013-2016. This aims to grow the motorcycle tourism niche market both for locals and outside visitors who might visit for events like World Superbikes and MotoGP. Many Australians are purchasing touring bikes for recreational use, and you can click here to see some of the most popular models. The strategy entails increasing marketing activities to target bikers, provide more detailed safety information for riders, and encouraging smaller regional tourism boards to engage with motorcycle tourists.

Popular Motorcycle Journeys
There are a number of routes particularly popular with Australian recreational bikers and motorcycle enthusiasts from abroad. The Great Tropical Drive travels from Cairns to Townsville with scenic seaside views. Another top coastal journey is the Great Ocean Road. Organized motorcycle tours depart from Melbourne to explore this terrain. An increasing number of tourists are visiting Tasmania for the Hobart to Hobart loop, passing through unspoilt wilderness and Tasmania's quaint towns. A particularly thrilling route for experienced bikers is the Great Alpine Road, which is considered to be one of Australia's best. It climbs from Myrtleford into the Snowy Mountains, with tight corners and winding roads providing a challenge for bikers. Riders are rewarded with panoramic views at the top for their troubles. Yet these are only a few examples of popular routes attracting visitors, and many are venturing into the Outback as well on organized tours.
Motor Bike Image 1
Image Source: Muc10/Wikimedia Commons

Festivals and Events
Another way that Australia is attracting motorcycle enthusiasts to its shores is with a plethora of motorsports festivals and events throughout the year. Many of these involve motorbikes, with the grandest being the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. Held each year at Victoria's Phillip Island, this three day event draws spectators and competitors from all over the globe as they race superbikes along a seaside track. The Australasian Safari spans a whole week of racing, and is open to quad bikes, motorbikes, and 4WD vehicles alike. Competitors pass through some of the most rugged and remote stretches of the Australian Outback over a distance of 4,000 kilometres.

Whether it's for private touring or to attend a motorcycle event, Australia is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for motorcycle tourists. If the new tourism strategy in Victoria succeeds, the country could see other states following suit.

Do Krug and caviar taste better at 30,000 feet?

This is something that Cathay Pacific’s First Class passengers can now tell you. Starting from this month, passengers travelling First Class on Cathay Pacific flights will be presented with a bespoke caviar and Krug service. The caviar is served in a specially made glass caviar soccel and with a mother of pearl spoon. Cathay Pacific also recently introduced an amuse bouche service so First Class passengers are now welcomed with bite-sized fine fare presented in a frosted sake glass -literally a tasteful start for the flight ahead.Cathay Pacific offers First Class on flights between Hong Kong and Europe and North America including Paris, London, Frankfurt and New York.

Award-winning Cathay Pacific flies 74 times a week from Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Cairns and Brisbane) direct to Hong Kong and onto more than 170 destinations around the world. Cathay Pacific and sister airline Dragonair fly over 720 flights a week to 25 destina-tions in China and Taiwan, including 12 daily flights to

Beijing and 17 daily flights to Shanghai. Visit

Dragonair’s saucy secret

chilled pork belly with garlic
The key to Xin Dau Ji’s delicious chilled pork belly with garlic (pictured) is a closely-guarded secret sauce recipe that uses Kurobuta pork. Now passengers travelling on Dragonair, Cathay Pacific’s sister airline, can enjoy this and other signature Hong Kong style dishes from the popular Xin Dau Ji restaurant, which was awarded a Michelin star in 2012 and has nine branches in Hong Kong and China. Another Xin Dau Ji hit offered on Dragonair’s new inflight menu is the braised beef cheek with matsutake, bailing mushroom and celtuce, a tasty dish rich with superfoods. Other popular dishes passengers can look forward to include pan-fried minced pork and lotus root cake and the chef-recommended deep-fried fish fillet with sweet corn sauce.

The new menu will be available until mid-April 2015 to passengers in all classes on selected Dragonair flights from Hong Kong to Beijing and Shanghai, and to First and Business Class passengers to Taipei and Kaohsiung, and to Business Class passengers flying to Chengdu, Hang-zhou, Kunming, Nanjing, Ningbo, Qingdao and Fukuoka.

Pure, Culture, Nature, New Way of Visiting Taroko

Taiwan's east coast has always been the wonderful place for tourists from Europe, America, Japan, Korea and China to visit to, Taroko especially.

The beautiful snow scene at Mt.Hehuan,the majestic sea of clouds at Guanyuan, the mysterious Shakadang Trail, the tall and flourish Sacred Tree and also the popular Jiuqudong(Tunnel of Nine Turns), Tianxiang and Qingshui Cliffs, all of them are the places where international tourists want to visit the most as soon as arriving in Taiwan.

In 2014, Taroko National Park Headquarters Office specially made a 12 minutes long eco-tourism video for international tourists traveling at Taroko in a more interesting and different way, this video introduces you 18 extremely beautiful scenes in detail.

This video focuses on natural, cultural and eco scenery, and it also includes the introductions of scenic spots around, offering convenient information for tourist to travel. In order to create more in depth traveling experiences and new aesthetic activities, Taroko National Park connects natures, arts, aesthetics and experiences, holding Taroko Gorge Music Festival and world-famous marathons every year.

New Route to Experience Taroko
Lovely Little Thing, Taroko Eco Tour
For promoting characteristic national park eco tour and environment education, Taroko National Park Headquarters Office specially organized "Taroko Tour" serial activities under the"2014 National Park Week New Leisure and Recreation Serial Activities" overall planned and managed by Construction and Planning Agency, Ministry of the Interior during June to September in 2014, including three one-day tours with local characteristics, "Truku Culture Experience Activity," "Xibao LOHAS Experience Activity" and "Luoshao Village Experience Activity." Therefore, the tourists get to walk into the local community, experience Taroko culture in person, and the harmonious life between human and land at the mountain.
Taroko National Park Headquarters Office said those places at Taroko such as aboriginal tribes, Xibao and Luoshao villages along the Central Cross-Island Highway, they are all full of local characteristics and stories, and it is worthy for everyone to enjoy. Welcome to attend the activities and we look forward to your feedback.

Activity information of "Taroko Tour
2014 National Park Week New Leisure and Recreation Serial Activities, "Taroko Tour" serial activities have been opened to sign up as from today.

"Truku Culture Experience Activity" is processed at 6/28, 7/12, 8/17, 9/6.
"Xibao LOHAS Experience Activity" is processed at 6/29, 7/20, 8/24, 9/14.
"Luoshao Village Experience Activity" is processed at 6/14, 7/19, 8/16, 9/13.
For more information, please check the activity general regulation.

These three activities are sponsored by Taroko National Park Headquarters Office, and cosponsored by Hualien County Central Cross-Island Leisure and Recreation Development Office, China Youth Corps Hualien Branch, Ketusan Studio, Nadolan Studio, Gelewenchuan Studio, Dageeli Tribe and Bodasan Culture Institute.

More TripAdvisor accolades for two of Thailands best boutique hotels

Two of Thailand’s best-loved properties were recently voted among “Asia’s Top 25 Hotels, with Exceptional Service” in a poll by influential website, TripAdvisor.

These accolades were given to The Place Luxury Boutique Villas on Ko Tao, Surat Thani, which was voted No. 2 in Asia and the Oriental Kwai Resort in Kanchanaburi which was voted No. 5 in the TripAdvisor 2014 Travellers’ Choice Awards. The Place Luxury Boutique Villas also highly rated internationally, with the property being named No.17 in the world.

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This is not the first time that The Place Luxury Boutique Villas has been highly rated by the travellers of TripAdvisor. This year the elegant, five-villa boutique property was named the World’s Best Hotel for Romance in the Traveller’s Choice Awards 2014. It also led the list of Top 25 Luxury Hotels in Asia and Top 25 Small Hotels in Asia and was ranked at Number Two in both these categories worldwide. (See TAT Newsroom – Thai Resort awarded World’s Best Hotel for Romance by TripAdvisor)

Of the 386 travellers who have reviewed the Place Luxury Boutique Villas on the TripAdvisor website, all of them gave it excellent ratings in terms of sleep quality, location, rooms, service, value and cleanliness.

“Not a hotel—far better – like hiring a villa with very helpful owners on hand. With privacy, peace and wonderful views, I imagine there is nowhere else like this in [Ko Tao],” said one satisfied guest.

Meanwhile, the Oriental Kwai Resort Kanchanaburi, a small and peaceful resort located in a little village on the bank of the serene River Kwai, currently has 518 traveller’s reviews on the TripAdvisor page. The resort garners high praise, “A great small resort on the river” and “A Gem of a hotel actually on the famous River Kwai”. The resort has rated highly on the Traveller’s Choice Awards since 2009.

Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik, TAT Governor said, “This poll and the high ratings that these properties have been given on such an influential website show that Thailand’s hotels and resorts really shine internationally, especially in terms of the exceptional services they offer. Both of these stand-out resorts have been voted among Asia’s best in the TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards many times over, which affirms their consistently high standards. Such properties can set the benchmark for other resorts in Thailand to reach.”

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Novotel Sydney Central Launches Revamped Conference Centre

Novotel Sydney Central has just completed its final phase of refurbishment with the main Conference Centre now showcasing a contemporary look that still complements the heritage-listed original features of the hotel.
Full refurbishment of all 255 guestrooms and the public areas was completed in late 2013.
Novotel Sydney Central GM Danesh Bamji said, “The completion of the hotel's refurbishment has come at a great time and complements the regeneration of the surrounding precinct.”
“For a long time, Haymarket has been seen as a transient suburb and is often overshadowed by Darling Harbour and Chinatown. With the public works that are currently underway such as The Goods Line, Haymarket is going to be transformed into one of the city's most exciting precinct.”
“Surrounded by cutting-edge architecture as well as exciting new restaurant and retail areas, the revitalisation of Novotel Sydney Central will further stimulate business and tourism opportunities for the precinct and Sydney.”
Novotel Sydney Central offers 12 purpose-built meeting rooms over three levels. The conference spaces in the main Conference Centre on the first floor, pre-function area and private bar have been re-designed.
The complete overhaul of this space includes installation of new furnishings, re-painting of fixtures, as well as upgrading of all floor surfaces. The pre-function area and private bar can now seamlessly transform to suit an exhibition event during the day, and a social event at night with the use of colour-changing LED feature screens and a feature wall.
Keeping in pace with the high technological needs of conferences, the Conference Centre has also had a complete upgrade of the audio visual (AV) systems. Managed by Fairchild Multimedia, new AV equipment has been installed including 16:9 HD format, HDMI capability throughout all conference spaces, new projection equipment including triple projection in the main ballroom.
All conference rooms will also have access to the newly-introduced Fairchild-developed 'SeeMe Now' electronic concierge tablet interface. This will allow for ease of communications with the hotel events team and on-site AV professional during the course of conferences.
Novotel Sydney Central can cater to data-intensive events including HD video conferencing with a designated 20mbps synchronous link and capability catering up to 300 delegates connecting simultaneously.
Full day conference packages start from $74 per delegate. Special event packages are available for gala dinners, social events and Christmas parties. To make your event a stand-out, theming services can be arranged at reasonable rates through the hotel's preferred theming providers.
To find out more about meetings and events at Novotel Sydney Central,
For more information, visit

Vivid Sydney Shines for Record 270,000 Visitors During Opening Weekend

Vivid Sydney is breaking all previous records with more than 270,000 visitors welcomed during its first weekend, Deputy Premier and Minister for Tourism and Major Events Andrew Stoner announced today.

Vivid Sydney is dazzling audiences once again, with opening weekend visitors up 170 per cent on last year,” Mr Stoner said.
“The festival of light, music and ideas just gets bigger and better every year, and visitors come to Sydney from across the State, Australia and around the world to see Sydney put on a show like no other.
“Of course the light installations and projections are always extremely popular, and in 2014 Vivid Light has increased its footprint dramatically, providing a unique perspective not only of favourites like the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge and Circular Quay, but of new Vivid Sydney areas such as Martin Place.
“With just over two weeks of Vivid remaining, it certainly looks like the Festival is on track to generate significant visitor spend.
“Last year more than 800,000 people came to Vivid Sydney, which contributed over $20 million in new money to NSW,” he said.
Vivid Sydney is also a huge hit with retailers, with many reporting double and triple the takings of a
normal night. Ice cream is again proving to be particularly popular, especially with Sydney's recent run of warm weather.”
Mr Stoner said that with crowds to Vivid Sydney building on the weekends, families should consider coming early in the week, and early on in the evening, with many installations on from 5.30pm including all of the light installations and projections at Martin Place.
“People should also consider splitting their visit to Vivid over several nights so they can see everything,” Mr Stoner said.
“Crowds build at the weekend so coming earlier in the week will help those with young children, prams and those visitors with mobility issues.
“With 3,500 extra transport services and road closures, visitors to Vivid Sydneyshould take public transport and plan their trip by,” he said.
Vivid Sydney 2014 is on each night 6pm, until Monday 9th June.
The full Vivid Sydney program is available at
Attached images should be credited as follows:
For Sydney Opera House image:
James Morgan; Destionation NSW
For families at play:
Brett Hemmings; Destination NSW

The Whales Have Returned to the Margaret River Region

Visitors can prepare for what is expected to be another bumper whale watching season in The Margaret River Region, Western Australia, with tours kicking off this June long weekend.

Local tour boat operators Albatross, All Sea, Naturaliste and Legend Charters will be officially commencing whale watching tours in Flinders Bay, Augusta this weekend, with some having already taken their charter boats out this week.
Up to 35,000 Humpback and Southern Right Whales, and even the occasional rare Blue Whale, travel through the waters of The Margaret River Region on their northern migration.
Paul Cross from Naturaliste Charters confirmed there has been sightings in Flinders Bay already.
“Just yesterday I saw a pod of about four whales out there underneath the lighthouse playing, with a few breaches," he said.
Terri Mitchell from Albatross Charters said it was an extremely exciting time of year. 
"As the whales move into Flinders Bay, we are fortunate enough to see some of the most spectacular activity displayed anywhere in Australia, and even worldwide," said Ms Mitchell.
"What's so unique about whale watching in the south west is that Flinders Bay in Augusta is the first port of call for the whales on their northern migration from Antarctia.
"Marine biologists have studied the whales' behaviour in the South West and realised that they stop in Flinders Bay for 'partner picking' - then they continue their journey to the North West," said Ms Mitchell.
Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association CEO Pip Close encouraged all visitors and locals to jump aboard a whale watching tour this season.
"Whale watching is a superb way to experience the beautiful natural environment of The Margaret River Region - it's an iconic Winter experience," said Ms Close.
"Augusta is a beautiful part of the world and whale watching is a great reason to head down to explore Cape Leeuwin and the Augusta area," she said.
"Whales can often be spotted from the top of the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse or through the binoculars in the lighthouse grounds - a great option if you don't have your sea legs!" said Ms Close.
"What's great about the whale season here is that it starts at the southern end of the region in Flinders Bay, Augusta, then the whales move north and can be spotted in Geographe Bay off Dunsborough and Busselton later in the year - resulting in an incredible six month whale watching season," said Ms Close.
Paul Szczypior from All Sea Charters advised that although the Humpbacks give birth up north, the Southern Right Whales breed in Flinders Bay.
"We've seen Southern Rights nursing their calfs just behind the breakers," he said.
"Every tour is different - you never know what you might see - last year we had a very friendly young male who we named George, who loved to see the boats, the odd Minke Whale and even a Blue Whale," said Mr Szczypior.
"There's always plenty of marine life in Augusta - seals, dolphins, schooling fish, tonnes of birdlife, and good views of the lighthouse and stunning rugged coastline," he said.
Whale watching tours depart from Flinders Bay Boat Ramp in Augusta and can be booked at the Margaret River or Augusta Visitor Centres.
Tours of Australia's tallest lighthouse at Cape Leeuwin are also available to visitors all June long weekend.
For more information, or to book a whale watching or lighthouse tour, visit, call +61 8 9780 5911 or email
Two night packages including a whale watching tour and acocmmodation at Darby Park Margaret River, Margarets Beach Resort or Quality Inn Margaret River are also soon to be available on

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Improvements to U.S. Entry Process at Chicago ORD Cited in President's National Travel and Tourism Progress Report

unnamed (9)The dramatic improvements to the U.S. entry process and reductions in CBP wait times at Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) were highlighted by President Obama yesterday during a speech and in a progress report about travel and tourism.

Speaking at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, the President talked about the impact that travel and tourism has on our country. During his 15 minute address, President Obama acknowledged Scott Donahue, CEO of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and Rosemarie S. Andolino, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) for their leadership in reducing customs wait times down to an average of 15 minutes at two of the nation's busiest airports, DFW and ORD. Click here to view the video.
The progress report released yesterday, entitled Increasing Tourism to Spur Economic Growth, provides a summary of how travel and tourism drives the U.S. economy and supports millions of jobs across the country. Key takeaways include:
  • In 2013, the travel and tourism industry supported 8 million jobs. Of these, 1.3 million of were supported by international travelers.
  • Travel and tourism is one of America's most important services exports, accounting for 27 percent of all services exports and generating a net trade surplus of $57 billion in 2013.
  • The number of international visitors has grown from 55 million in 2009 to 70 million in 2013, and each overseas visitor spends on average $4,500 per visit, at American hotels, shops, restaurants, and other domestic businesses.unnamed (10)
  • The growth in international visitors has supported roughly 175,000 American jobs over the past five years.
The  report also stressed the importance of continuing to build on the administration's travel and tourism success by increasing visitation to the U.S. from emerging markets including Brazil, China and India; continuing to improve Visa facilitation; and expediting the entry and arrival process at U.S. ports of entry.

Recent improvements to CBP processes at Chicago O'Hare were cited in the President's report to demonstrate that improvements to the entry process and reduction in wait times at ports of entry across the U.S. are possible through close partnerships with airports and industry.

As noted in the report, Chicago O'Hare has seen passenger growth of seven percent this year-the second fastest growth of any top 10 airport- and has partnered with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on improved queuing, signage, passenger flow, Global Entry, and critically, Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks. To implement the innovative APC technology, Chicago O'Hare collaborated with Vancouver Airport Authority (YVR) to installBorderXpress by YVR APC kiosks in the summer of 2013, which expedite the customs clearance process by an average of 89 percent. The results have been dramatic. Over a 12-month period, average CBP wait times at O'Hare were cut in half, from about 30 minutes to 15 minutes.

"As the President's report shows, Chicago is at the leading edge for implementing new programs and technology to facilitate international travel and improve the customer experience for visitors arriving at our global gateway, O'Hare International Airport. We are very fortunate that the President's Administration is supportive of growing the travel industry, and we are working very hard to help him, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, meet these goals," said Rosemarie S. Andolino, Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA). "Boosting travel and tourism are very important to Chicago's economy and to Mayor Emanuel's goal to host 55 million visitors by 2020."

To view yesterday's news release, fact sheet and progress report from the White House about the President's goals for growing the U.S. economy and creating jobs through travel and tourism, click here 

Edward Scheetz Announces the Launch of Chelsea Hotels

Hotel industry veteran Edward Scheetz is proud to announce the launch of a new hospitality brand, Chelsea Hotels, a re-brand and evolution of the former King & Grove Hotels. 

Chelsea Hotels includes Hotel Chelsea born 1884, Martha Washington born 1905, McCarren Hotel & Pool born 2011, Ruschmeyer’s born 1952, and Astor Hotel to open in 2016. In a move that supports his vision and strategy for growth, Scheetz enrolled the pioneering design agency Pandiscio Co. to help further develop the unique identities of each property, and to create Chelsea Hotels, a new and powerful brand that unites them.

Located in the center of the Chelsea neighborhood at 222 West 23rd Street, Hotel Chelsea, built in 1884, has fostered an intriguing array of creative talents, including Bob Dylan, Virgil Thomson, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Viva, Leonard Cohen, Arthur Miller, Janis Joplin, among many others. Revered as a creative and cultural nexus, the Chelsea, built originally as a residential cooperative, quickly became the most culturally significant hotel in the US, catering to a unique and diversified group of people. Hotel Chelsea became New York’s first utopian community that, through its mix of residents from all over the world, creative energy and public spaces, encouraged interaction between all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds.

Chelsea Hotels embodies this spirit and celebrates the authentic communities and individuality of its family of five properties – some with historical significance, others with relatively new construction, all with a different look and feel – tied together with an underlying philosophy and approach to service. 

Designed to suit the changing needs and moods of the modern traveler, Chelsea Hotels offers superb quality, personalized service, renowned cuisine, exceptional design, and state of the art business and meeting facilities.

“We wanted a name that reflects what we stand for as a brand, and Chelsea Hotels does just that. In the spirit of our most iconic property, Chelsea Hotels welcomes all to become part of a community rooted in culture, creativity and shared experiences,” said Edward Scheetz, CEO of Chelsea Hotels.

The roll out of Chelsea Hotels will begin with this month’s launch of McCarren Hotel and Pool, formerly King & Grove Williamsburg. In late August 2014, King & Grove New York will re-launch under the hotel’s original name Martha Washington. The historic Hotel Chelsea will open in 2015, and a new project, Astor Hotel, will open in 2016. Ruschmeyer’s in Montauk is currently open.

For more information, please visit

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden's "Boomslang" Is Unleashed

The affectionately named “Boomslang” or Tree Canopy Walkway at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is now open to the public and offers visitors an unusual and unique view from forest floor to treetops - yet another reason to visit the Garden. Below are some frequently asked questions that give an overview of this snake-like structure that runs through the treetops.  

Where is it? -  It's situated in the Arboretum (Enchanted Forest) which is nestled below the Protea Garden, above the Dell and above the Concert lawn.
How long is it? - It is 130m long and curves between the trees and through the branches.  It is roughly crescent-shaped and joins the forest floor in two different places within the arboretum.  Its highest point is 12m above the ground (approximately 3 stories).
Why was it built & What do you hope to achieve by it? -  We wanted to celebrate our Centenary (1913-2013) with a project that would be spectacular, unique and long-lasting.  This walkway, which had been on the backburner for many years, fit all the criteria and was a perfect way to mark the event in Kirstenbosch with something permanent.  It was built purely from bequest money which has been left to Kirstenbosch by 318839_num875358_600x600numerous donors, but predominantly Mary Mullins.  It is also a fantastic opportunity to take people into the treetops, a place with a unique ecology that is generally hard to get to.  From here people can experience the forest from high above the ground and also see birds and other animals that are generally hard to see otherwise.  One can experience tree dynamics - how the treetops move in the wind and how the crowns of the trees interact with one another.  The walkway then bursts through and above the canopy, giving you an impression of what it is like to be above the forest.  At this point, the walkway provides spectacular 360 degree vistas comprising Cape Town and the surrounding majestic mountain slopes.
What is it made of?  - It is made entirely of galvanized steel components which have been constructed offsite by Prokon Services's at their workshop in Blackheath.  Each component is 6m long and are painted with no less than 4 coats of the best quality paints available to prolong its life in the damp Kirstenbosch environment.  The handrails are made of a wood called Padauk, a sustainably harvested hardwood from West Africa; and decking consists of stained treated pine slats.  On site, the components were hoisted by a small crane, bolted together and mounted on top of long support columns, much like a giant mechano set.  A total of 19.6 tons of steel was used.  A total of of 5.3km of  8mm Ø round bar was used!
How long did it take? - Planning started seriously in late 2012.  Initial casting of the column foundations commenced in June 2013. Construction of the steel framework commenced offsite in August 2013, and the onsite construction commenced in November 2013.  Roughly a year since the first land survey was done.
What were the reasons for the delay in opening:  As with any first-time complex construction such as this, there were numerous unforeseen obstacles.  Fitting the giant pieces of the skeleton together proved more difficult than anticipated, especially within a building site as sensitive as the arboretum which is essentially a forest of tree trunks and branches.  Maneuvering a mobile crane within this space was a big challenge.   Both the painting and the carpentry were long and tedious jobs, all having to be conducted high above ground level.  The assembly and shaping of the magnificent handrails was an exceptionally complex and time-consuming process which had to match the curves and undulations of the walkway.  Each handrail consisted of about 15 slats of hard Padauk wood which had to be laminated together and molded and shaped to fit the steel railings.
Is there a cost to walk on it? - It's absolutely free to walk on.  A garden entry ticket is all that is required.
Opening/Closing times of the garden: September to March 08h00am -19h00pm, and from April to August 08h00-18h00 everyday
Is it Wheelchair accessible?:  Yes, it is.  The access to the arboretum, however, consists of steep paths and assistance is advisable.
Extra info about the arboretum:
Kirstenbosch's little-known arboretum is in the heart of the garden – nestled between famous parts of the garden, like the Protea garden, the Dell, Mathews Rockery and the Concert lawn, this relatively young part of the 100–year- old garden is where some of Southern Africa's remarkable tree flora are exhibited.
Kirstenbosch interpretation office Alice Notten, Kirstenbosch's first envisaged (in about 2005) some kind of elevated viewing deck, perhaps incorporating a walkway of some sort that would take visitors up into the tree canopies.  The Kirstenbosch Centenary rekindled interest in this project and so the boomslang was born in 2013.
The walkway encounters many interesting trees en route: some old 150 year old trees that predate the garden like Hard Pear - (Olinia ventosa) and Cape Saffron (Cassine peragua), the 100 year old Wild Banana (Strelitzia nicolai).  Other younger trees include White Stinkwood (Celtis africana), Cape Beech (Rapanea melanophloes), Coral Tree (Erythrina caffra), Myrtle Quince (Cryptocarya myrtifolia) and the Terblanz Beech from the protea family (Faurea macnaughtonii).
Technically speaking, this entire, elegantly designed bridge structure is a complex three dimensional truss, spanning 12 metres between columns.
Kirstenbosch is a very natural garden.  We were very aware that a large structure like this could become quite obtrusive if not carefully designed and built.  Utmost consideration was given to this by the architect with his objective to make the walkway as invisible in the landscape as possible.
Initially there were many critics, but all who have seen the bridge have given overwhelmingly positive reports.
Architect: Mark Thomas and Christopher Bisset of Mark Thomas Architects
Structural Engineers: Henry Fagan of Henry Fagan consulting engineers and Andrew Rich of Prokon Services.

New Generation Vessel for Captain Cook Cruises

Mary Reibey © Richardson Devine Marine
SeaLink Travel Group has added a second state of the art $2.6 million catamaran to its Captain Cook Cruises fleet, with the launch today in Sydney of Mary Reibey.

The new generation, 24metre Rocket catamaran, will join her sister vessel Elizabeth Cook, which was launched in November 2013,on Sydney harbour. Like Elizabeth Cook she is eco-friendly, fuel efficient and equipped with the latest technologies to reduce her carbon footprint.

The Mary Reibey, named after the astute and successful New South Wales business woman who is featured on the Australian twenty-dollar note, has been designed to balance efficiency with ruggedness, allowing her to operate in all corners of Sydney Harbour and beyond.

The Mary Reibey is contracted to Harbour City Ferries (Sydney Ferries) from June 2, 2014 and will be providing ferry charter services.

Managing Director, SeaLink Travel Group, Jeff Ellison said the second new vessel for Sydney Harbour was part of the company’s plan be a major charter operator on Sydney Harbour.

“We are building boats such as Mary Reibey that are multi-purpose, eco-friendly, cost efficient and have the ability to operate both up river to Parramatta and outside Sydney Harbour heads.”

“On top of this Mary Reibey offers a fast service and a high level of comfort for passengers including large viewing windows, contemporary seating and a 360-degree viewing sundeck,” said Mr Ellison.

The two level catamaran has a main passenger cabin with seats for 116 passengers and a further 31 seats located on the lower outside deck. Upstairs an open upper deck has seating for 51 passengers, providing ample space for passengers to stand and view the sights.

SeaLink has commissioned two more state-of-the-art catamarans due to arrive in Sydney Harbour in June and December2014.

Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority Chief Executive, Catherine Gallagher officially launched Mary Reibey in the traditional maritime way, breaking a champagne bottle across the bow.

Mary Reibey was designed in Sydney by Incat Crowther and built in Tasmania by Richardson Devine Marine.

For further information and bookings, please contact Captain Cook Cruises on T: +61-2-9206 1111 or visit

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Vivid Lights Up Sydney For Another 18 Days

Vivid Sydney 2014_ThePoolNSW Premier Mike Baird tonight officially launched Vivid Sydney 2014, the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest festival of light, music and ideas.

Mr Baird hit the switch as part of the annual ‘Lights On’ moment to officially launch the sixth year of the festival, lighting up the iconic sails of the Sydney Opera House.

“Vivid Sydney has become one of the city’s most anticipated events, drawing massive crowds from Sydney, interstate and overseas,” Mr Baird said.

“This event showcases the state’s creative talent and transforms the way the city’s most famous landmarks are viewed using spectacular lighting displays and projections.

“Last year, the family friendly festival attracted an impressive 800,000 visitors, which in turn delivered a major $20 million boost to the NSW economy.

“This event provides a welcome boost to shops, restaurants, cafes and bars during the winter period and I’d encourage everyone to leave the car at home and take advantage of more than 3,500 additional public transport services on offer during the festival.”

NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Tourism & Major Events Andrew Stoner said Vivid Sydney is made up of more than 200 events that showcase the state’s creative industries, including digital media, design, animation and music.

“With 40 per cent of Australia’s creative industries based in NSW, nurturing our state’s creative sector through major events like Vivid Sydney has a positive impact on our economy and the overall strength of our nation’s creative industries,” Mr Stoner said.

“This year’s festival has been expanded to five new precincts, including Martin Place, Carriageworks, The University of Sydney, The Star and Sydney Harbour.

“The festival includes 50 free light installations and projections transforming Sydney’s architecture and open spaces through Vivid Light, 80 Vivid Music shows, and 300 speakers at 180 creative industry events as part of Vivid Ideas,” he said.

Anyone attending Vivid Sydney is encouraged to view the full Vivid Sydney 2014 program and plan their trip to and from the event

qualia Announces New Event: Weekends of Wonderment

Hamilton Island's, qualia has announced a new event series, 'Weekends of Wonderment' with the inaugural event to be held at the award-winning, luxury resort from Friday 13 – Sunday 15 June, 2014.
From its idyllic location at the edge of the Great Barrier Reef, the upcoming event will be the first in a series of bespoke guest experiences that embody the essence of qualia – latin for: "a collection of deeper sensory experiences".

The new series is designed to appeal to those with a love affair for all things luxurious and artisanal, who travel for the senses and are seeking a unique, hands-on experience the region.
An enviable line up of experts will bring this vision to life. Celebrated chef, Mark Best will headline the event alongside acclaimed Australian florist, Saskia Havekes; and French born candle maker, Elise Balzac.
On the Friday evening, Elise Balzac, founder of the high-end Australian soy wax candle brand, Maison Balzac will guide an intimate candle making class. Guests will be offered the opportunity to select their own unique scent and pour their soy wax candle into a personal heirloom or jar of choice.
Saturday will begin with a hands-on crabbing experience with renowned chef and Tourism Australia's 'Restaurant Australia' ambassador, Mark Best and expert crabber and marine biologist, Matt Vickers. Guests will pull their own mud crabs from sustainable fishery crab pots found off the shores of qualia and then enjoy a well deserved tasting of their freshly caught bounty.
The love for all things artisanal continues with an art of flower arranging session with founder of Grandiflora, Saskia Havekes; often referred to as the First Lady of Flowers. With experience working with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermes, Dries Van Noten and Acne, Havekes promises to inspire, inform and delight guests in both visual and conversational form. Following a discussion around Grandiflora Fragrance and the release of her two eau de parfums, Magnolia Grandiflora Sandrine and Magnolia Grandiflora Michel, guests will then have the chance to make their own exquisite floral arrangement under Havekes' expert tutelage.
The day will culminate in an elegant 'Weekends of Wonderment' dinner at qualia's renowned Long Pavilion as prepared by guest chef, Mark Best. Mark Best has won 'Chef of the Year' in the annual Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide and 'Restaurant of the Year' in Australian Gourmet Traveller,Sydney Morning HeraldTime Out magazine and also in the Restaurant and Catering Association's Awards for Excellence. His Sydney restaurant, Marque has also featured in San Pellegrino and Restaurant Magazine's 'World's 50 Best Restaurants'.
Nicky Tindill, Hamilton Island's Brand & Events Manager comments, “We are honoured to welcome all three internationally acclaimed experts to qualia to create bespoke, unique experiences of the highest calibre. We invite international and domestic travellers alike to join us for this inaugural 'Weekends of Wonderment' event as we together connect in a tactile manner with the beauty that surrounds qualia.”  
Luxury accommodation packages
The inaugural 'Weekends of Wonderment' event will be held at Hamilton Island's luxury resort, qualia from 13 – 15 June 2014. Tickets to the event are now available for purchase at a price of $1,040 per person. The event package includes one candle making session with Elise Balzac, one art of flower arranging session with Saskia Havekes, one crabbing experience with Mark Best and Matt Vickers and one dinner at Long Pavilion hosted by Mark Best. Please note accommodation at qualia is not included in the event package. Guests must be 18 years or over to attend the Weekends of Wonderment event.  
Accommodation at the award-winning luxury resort, qualia is priced from $995 per night, based on twin share. Rate includes breakfast for two, VIP chauffeur service, VIP return Hamilton Island Airport/Marina transfers, use of non-motorised watercraft and the hire of a golf buggy for the duration of your stay.
For more information, please contact the Luxury Specialist team by or call: 1300 780 959.

The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places