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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

What's New in Tasmania in 2020

New Hotels in Hobart and Launceston
Tasmania welcomes top players

Standby for an influx of powerhouse global hotel brands. Coming in Q3 2020, the Marriot Luxury Collection opens The Tasman, its $50 million five-star Hobart hotel in a restored heritage building in Parliament Square. The InterContinental Hotels Group opens Crowne Plaza, a 278-room hotel above the ICON Complex in Hobart CBD, featuring Aura, an inner-city rooftop bar (a first for Hobart, cocktails for everyone!). Also scheduled for a Q1 opening in the CBD is Mövenpick (Accor Group) 196-room hotel, and the 142-room Vibe Hotel. Meanwhile, an extra 21 rooms have just been opened at Moss, the botanically themed hotel that blossomed at Salamanca Place last year.

Launceston, too, has a raft of new accommodation due soon. Following newcomers Stillwater Seven and Change Overnight, work is well underway on the brand new 86-room Hotel Verge in Launceston city centre and refurbishment of the former Clarion Hotel now City Park Grand on Tamar Street.

Cradle Mountain Gets Some TLC
New lodge and experiences rock the Cradle

Stay tuned for the roll-out of new accommodation and experiences at Tasmania’s popular Central Highlands national park. Leading the charge is the established wilderness retreat Cradle Mountain Lodge, which has recently refurbished its five luxurious King Billy suites. Phase one of the renovations span the Highland restaurant, Tavern bar, Waldheim spa, and reception. For thrill seekers, the new Cradle Canyons Phoenix Gorge experience involves abseiling the Big Cheese, a 30-metre high waterfall. Don’t believe us? Watch this. The McDermott Group and S Group are developing 62 luxury self-contained apartments in the Cradle valley featuring a viewing platform for stargazers. And, to top it off, the national park’s visitor information centre is being upgraded.

Everything Old is New Again
Heritage stays crafted with care

Tasmania is the place to experience the nation’s most inspiring heritage conversions. Textbook examples include Stillwater Seven, a super-stylish boutique hotel of just seven rooms in Launceston’s 1830s flour mill; the storied Ship Inn Stanley in the shadow of The Nut on Tasmania's north-west coast; and the gloriously green Moss hotel, a converted Georgian-era sandstone warehouse on Salamanca Place in Hobart.

Forage for a Feast
The art of hunting and gathering

Agri-tourism is a dominant vibe in 2020, with a suite of agri-tours coming online. Off the Table Tours, in and around working farms northern Tasmania offers a range of behind-the-scenes experiences linking food lovers with Tasmania’s top farmers and producers. Choices include truffle hunting, cooking your own Cape Grim beef, a garlic and heirloom tomato tasting, and an eggs-pedition at the island’s largest free-range egg farm. King Island is world-renowned for its beef, the Meat Your Beef Tour allows you to go behind the scenes of 1500 hear of cattle farm offering a tailored farmgate experience on the gourmet island. Pull-on a pair of waders and learn how to shuck your own with tuition from an oyster farmer at Oyster Bay Tours at Freycinet Marine Farm. The Flinders Island Wharf stages its fly-in-fly-out Catch ‘n’ Cook Crayfish Lunch experience until April 2020. Take a scenic flight (from Melbourne, Launceston, Freycinet and Hobart), land at Killiecrankie Beach and catch crayfish with your personal local fisherman straight from the sea. Head to Flinders Island Wharf with said crayfish for a meal to remember, teamed with Flinders Island’s own wines and gins.

Destination Dining
Take a day trip for top eats

Tassie’s best paddock-to-plate eating is often just a country drive away from the island’s gateways. Long lunches in picturesque locations are the best way to relax into the Tasmanian way of life. Joining the likes of Agrarian Kitchen and Eatery (New Norfolk), the Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory (Sassafras) and Fat Pig Farm (Cygnet) are new regional eateries including Port Cygnet Cannery in an old apple-canning factory; the first stage of the restaurant includes a wood-fired eatery, bar, beer garden and event space, beside the cellar door of Sailor Seeks Horse. And at the former Potters Croft Lodge in the Tasman Peninsula town of Dunalley, Van Bone will focus on seasonal menus inspired by its onsite permaculture market garden.

Winter is Hot in Tasmania
Off-season is prime time

As the stresses of peak-season travel pile up - price hikes, delays and queues – the appeal of shoulder and off-season travel sweetens. Tasmania is Australia’s leading off-season destination from the snowy, Narnia-esque wilderness of Cradle Mountain, to secluded retreats with roaring fires (Pumphouse Point on Lake St Clair, Thousand Lakes Lodge in the Central Highlands among them). Winters here are lit by the energy of the bacchanalian winter festival Dark Mofo - including the traffic-stopping Nude Solstice Swim – and fuelled by scores of experiences and events that celebrate the season. Tassie’s winter walks are as brisk as they are wild - embark on hikes designed for winter conditions along the Overland Track, or Three Capes Track, or the Maria Island Winter Walk. Indoor types, meanwhile, can luxuriate in hot tubs or beside fire lit hearths at boutique boltholes including Ship Inn Stanley, The Granary and Stillwater Seven. Tassie’s food regions come alive with seasonal celebrations, too. Among them is the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival, a pagan-inspired gathering in the Huon Valley that promises fire, feasting, and folklore. Winter is coming.

Transformative Tasmanian Aboriginal Experiences
Discover island people and stories in a truly immersive way

Some believe Tasmania’s position at the confluence of several tectonic plates contributes to a unique sense of calm and connection felt by many who live here. For new arrivals, there’s a growing collection of guided Tasmanian Aboriginal experiences that may help them feel this energy, too. The Nohioner Adventure is a trailblazing collaboration between Sheldon Thomas, a Tasmanian Aboriginal healer, cultural and ceremonial guide, and a local adventure tourism operator, Ben Rea, of Tasmanian e-Bike Adventures. Guests on this day-long Aboriginal on-country adventure have exclusive access to the meeting point on Forestier Peninsula where European explorers encountered Tasmania’s First People. In this wild and powerful landscape, guests are immersed in cultural lore and healing ceremonies, and a seasonal picnic featuring local bush foods. On Tasmania's east coast wukalina walk explores the cultural home of the palawa. The lands of the larapuna/Bay of Fires and wukalina/Mount William areas are you home over three-nights and four days, sleep beneath star scattered skies in bespoke domed huts, walk in the footsteps of the palawa, participate in cultural practices like basket weaving and creating shell necklaces, feast on traditional fodder like mutton birds and locally harvested shellfish. Kooparoona Niara Tours host bespoke day tours of Tasmanian Aboriginal cultural sites, stories, and food stops of the Meander Valley region. Connect to Tasmania like never before, these unique experiences promise to be like no other.

Unconform at The Unconformity
Wonderful and wild festival on Tasmania’s west coast

Save the date: 16-18 October 2020. A former mining town on the edge of Tasmania’s southwest wilderness is an unlikely location for an arts and cultural festival, yet that’s only part of the international buzz. This biennial festival on the west coast is courageously “mining new cultural experiences at the edge of the world” – part festival, part community development project with a special sense of place. The Unconformity takes its name from a rare geological formation found in the region, the Haulage Unconformity, but it also embodies Queenstown’s reputation for being different. The town’s main street, shop windows and the restored art deco Paragon Theatre are transformed as immersive art venues. Otherwise, expect the unexpected.

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Monday, February 24, 2020

Introducing Two’s a Crowd - Travel Solo But Never Alone

Multiple award-winning tour company, Two’s a Crowd, specialise in Solo Travel having created a huge range of small group itineraries dedicated to solo travellers visiting different destinations throughout the world.

According to founder and owner, Ken Morgan, “Two’s a Crowd celebrates solo travellers. We make it easy and safe for them to travel the world at a fair price and share amazing experiences with like-minded people.”

“We have been successfully operating since 2012 and so many of our solo travellers return to travel with us time and time again. Some have even booked their tenth tour.” Continues Mr Morgan.

Tours are customised for groups of 10-20 solo travellers, ensuring they always feel safe in a small group environment, while still receiving personalised attention, space and free time to explore along with the chance to enjoy authentic cultural experiences.

All Two’s a Crowd group tours offer:

• Great value with low single supplements
• Your own room always – no sharing!
• Fully escorted by a Two’s a Crowd tour host
• English speaking, hand-picked local tour guides

Two’s a Crowd operate over 30 group departures a year with tours ranging from seven to twenty-three days.

Tours visit over 35 different destinations including Chile, Argentina and Brazil, Sri Lanka, Peru and Bolivia, Egypt and Jordan, Laos, Morocco, Tanzania Zanzibar, South Africa, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Russia and Eastern Europe, Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary, France Canal Barge, Portugal, Scandinavia, Spain, Southern India, Prague to Budapest, Budapest to Amsterdam, Northern India, Holland, Italy, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, Germany and Vietnam and Cambodia.

Two’s a Crowd also operate river and ocean cruise charters, launching the world's first solos-only river cruise in 2017 from Budapest to Strasbourg. Like with their regular group tours, everyone had their own cabin and there were no couples on board.

Two’s a Crowd will operate their fourth river cruise charter from Budapest to Amsterdam in August this year. Other ocean and river cruise charters have included Fiji, Vienna to Black Sea and back to Budapest and French rivers.

For further information and for bookings visit:, telephone from Australia:
1300 55 45 01, telephone from New Zealand: 0800 895 145.

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What's New in Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef

Revitalise on the Reef

Sunrise yoga on Sudbury Cay, drift snorkelling over giant clams at Lizard Island, and learning about traditional Aboriginal healing at Cooktown, are all included in the seven-night ‘Revitalise on the Reef’ wellness voyages with Coral Expeditions. Departing Cairns in September 2021, the Outer Great Barrier Reef expeditions are curated by wellness expert Kris Abbey, who will join guests on-board for one-on-one consultations.

Social butterfly invites guests

Affectionately referred to as the Crystalbrook Collection’s social butterfly, the five-star hotel Flynn is taking bookings ahead of its March 31 opening. Situated opposite the Cairns Esplanade boardwalk, Flynn features two glass pools overlooking the Coral Sea, 311 stylish rooms and suites, three levels of restaurants and bars, the Eléme Day Spa, a 24-hour gym, and meeting spaces for up to 120 people. The hotel’s ground-level restaurant, Boardwalk Social, is already proving a hit, cementing its place as the stomping ground for locals and tourists alike.

Centre for Indigenous art

First Nations art will feature prominently at Bulmba-ja, the new name for the Cairns Centre of Contemporary Arts, following its $5.9 million refurbishment. Meaning ‘house’ to the Yirrganydji and Yidinji peoples, Bulmba-ja incorporates a Yarning Circle and Elder’s lounge along with a unique integrated LED facade to display digital artworks. Home to JUTE Theatre Company and NorthSite Contemporary Arts (formerly KickArts), Bulmba-ja now includes Miriki Performing Arts and The Pryce Centre for Culture and Arts.

Feast on exotic fruit

An expanded rare and tropical fruits display and a food trail taking in the Cassowary Coast’s best food producers are part of the Feast of the Senses festival on March 26-19. Celebrity chef Jo Whitton from Quirky Cooking will show her skills at the Australian Bananas River Feast in Innisfail on March 29, the market day featuring food vendors, local producers, art, artisan products, music and entertainment.

Chill out in Port Douglas

Relax on a penthouse terrace with views of the Daintree rainforest at the newly refurbished Saltwater Luxury Apartments. The inviting outdoor couches and sun lounges are perfect for chilling out at the end of the day with a drink, or curling up with a book. Located in the heart of Port Douglas, and just a short stroll to the beach and the marina, the fully self-contained apartments have one, two and three-bedroom options.

Paddock to plate dining

Good cooking and great eating start with excellent farming and that’s just what you can expect at CC’s Bar and Grill at Bailey, a Crystalbrook Collection Resort in Cairns. Chef Matthew Larter, whose passion for beef has taken him around the world, serves Crystalbrook Signature Beef reared just 180km west of Cairns. He is part of a culinary trio including British-born chef Tyrone Hunt, who has a background in fresh seafood, and Mark Sinclair, who boasts an impressive professional pedigree in fine-wines and first-class hospitality.

Ned Kelly Series on show

Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly Series will be on display at Cairns Art Gallery from March 6 to June 14 as part of a national tour of the Australian masterpieces. Cairns is the only Queensland venue hosting the 1940s paintings from the National Gallery of Australia Collection.

Day & night citizen science

The first Great Barrier Reef day and night citizen science program, aligned with the Australian school curriculum, has been launched by Sunlover Reef Cruises. The Marine Biologist for a Day + Astronomer for a Night program involves a daytime guided snorkel safari, and night-time camping in deluxe swags on the Moore Reef Marine Base to study the stars.

Discover public art in Cairns

Cairns Regional Council has launched a Cairns Arts & Culture Map showing where to see public art on display, including paintings in the Cairns Courthouse, light projections in the city, and Indigenous prints etched into the glass of the Cairns Performing Arts Centre.

Silkari rebrands Oaks Lagoons

Oaks Lagoons Port Douglas has been rebranded to Silkari Lagoons Port Douglas. The 176-room property, boasting one, two and three-bedroom apartments, including spa, swim-out and plunge pool rooms, is on Port Douglas Rd, a short stroll to Four Mile Beach.

First nursery for outer reef

The Great Barrier Reef’s first outer reef coral nursery has been established on a high-value reef by the Reef Restoration Foundation volunteers who successfully pioneered an offshore coral nursery at Fitzroy Island. The not-for-profit organisation partnered with Seastar Cruises to develop the nursery, near their Hastings Reef mooring.

Indigenous stockmen recognised

The Indigenous Stock Workers display has opened at the Normanton Visitor Information Centre, recognising the Indigenous men and women who opened their land to agriculture and provided loyal service as stock workers. Funded through the Year of Outback Tourism Events Program, the display highlights the cattle industry in Normanton.

Aquarium by Night launches

Watch the underwater and coastal worlds come to life after dark at Aquarium by Night, a guided Cairns Aquarium experience giving a glimpse into the behaviour of the region’s nocturnal creatures. Corals glow, predators hunt and reptiles emerge from their burrows. Complete your evening at the Aquarium’s Dundee’s Restaurant for a dining experience with a sea life backdrop.

A cultural perspective on climate change

Climate change is the theme for the 11th Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) on July 8-12, which will show a First Peoples’ point of view on how the local environment has changed. A showcase of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, CIAF features ethically sourced art, markets, music, dance, fashion, food, crafts, theatre and workshops.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Accor appoints new Director of Communications

Accor, Australia’s largest hotel operator with a network of over 380 hotels and apartments, has appointed Claire Haigh as its new Director of Communications for the Pacific region.

For the past five years, Haigh was Global Communications Director for Pernod Ricard’s Winemaking division and their portfolio of champagnes, spirits and wines in Australia and New Zealand.

Between 2008 and 2013 Haigh was Head of Communications for Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants in the UK, and prior to that drove creative communications, strategic brand partnerships and external affairs for AB InBev, Coca-Cola and Oakley.

In her new role, Haigh will lead communications for Accor Pacific’s award-winning apartment, hotel and resorts portfolio which includes Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery, Novotel, Mercure, Mantra, Peppers, Art Series, Swissotel and ibis, and premium membership platform Accor Vacation Club, across Australia, New Zealand, French Polynesia and Fiji.

Haigh will also direct communications for Accor’s corporate social responsibility initiatives, and the group’s newly launched global lifestyle loyalty programme, Accor Live Limitless, where members enjoy access to the brand's whole suite of hotels, spas, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, as well as “money can't buy” entertainment, wellness and sport experiences.

Haigh commented, “There has never been a better time to join Accor and it is a fantastic feeling to come into a thriving and dynamic business.

“Accor are leading the future of tourism and hospitality, they have a phenomenal portfolio, and they are playing an active role in giving back to the planet and community via its Planet 21 programme, the Accor Community Fund, and Inclusion and Diversity initiatives.

“I look forward to collaborating with the teams across the business to deliver outstanding work, and I will be focused on growing brand value and visibility to support growth."

"Claire’s passion and expertise for how communications can drive business results and fit within an integrated proposition made her the ideal appointment," said Simon McGrath, Chief Operating Officer for Accor Pacific.

Accor is a major sponsor of the Australian Open and the official accommodation partner of the NRL.

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Monday, February 17, 2020

Captain Cook's ‘Hot August Night’ Music Cruise back for 2020

Captain Cook Cruises spectacular, "Hot August Night" Music Cruise, on-board paddlewheeler PS Murray Princess is back for its third year in 2020 for one departure only, on Friday August 21, 2020.

Over three nights guests will be taken on an intimate journey into the music of Neil Diamond through entertainer and storyteller, Dave Freeman. Experience the Neil Diamond voice, Neil Diamond story and amazing Neil Diamond show.

Enjoy a welcome three-course dinner and dance to the live tunes of keyboard artist, Paul Gill. On Saturday night get ready for a show to remember when Dave performs his "OMG Neil Diamond Sounds Like Me" show including storytelling, songs, dancing and music from Neil Diamond's famous Hot August Night Album.

On the final evening, dance the night away as Dave and Paul provide live entertainment, singing all-time favourite songs during the Captain's Seafood Buffet Dinner and Dance.

By day, the Murray Princess will travel along the Murray River between Walker Flat and Murray Bridge visiting historic towns and attractions along the way.

In Mannum join the Captain for a walk along the riverbank to the Mannum Dock Museum (entry is an additional cost of $5 per person) or simply take a walk around town.

At Murray Bridge explore the township and take a tour of the historic Round House or wildlife lovers can spend a morning visiting Monarto Zoo. See many of the Zoo's inhabitants including Giraffe, Eland, Zebra, White Rhinoceros, Cheetah, Lions, Hyena and Wild Dogs on a private Monarto Zoo Wildlife Tour (additional costs apply).

At Salt Bush Flat learn about the thriving ecology of the river and its flora and fauna on a guided nature walk, while at River View Lodge get up close to the river, its 20-million-year-old cliffs and amazing birdlife including darters, herons and egrets on the 'Dragon-Fly' Flat Bottomed Boat vessel.

Onboard the Murray Princess join the Captain for a general inspection of the wheelhouse, participate in a lively music quiz with Paul Gill, or play some bocce on the riverbank with Dave Freeman.

Enjoy the ever-changing Murray River scenery from the open-top deck. Relax in comfort in the paddlewheel lounges and watch the paddlewheel turn while admiring the rivers natural beauty including the magnificent towering limestone cliffs and riverbanks lined with mallee scrub, willows and red gum forests.

Be treated to a fine selection of food and wine in the ship's elegant dining room and bar. Start each morning with a hearty hot buffet breakfast and indulge in a two-course or buffet lunch each day. As night falls watch the sun set and enjoy a delicious cocktail before savouring a three-course meal or buffet dinner.

The three-night "Hot August Night" Music Cruise departs Mannum at 4.30pm on Friday August 21, 2020, and Early Booking Saver fares start from $931 per person twin share.

Fares include accommodation, all meals, guided nature walks, eco-excursions, onboard presentations, onboard WiFi, the Captain's Dinner and Cocktail Party, the "OMG Neil Diamond Sounds Like Me" Show, entertainment by Dave Freeman and Paul Gill, use of ship's facilities including a sun deck, bar, two lounges, dining room and a mini gymnasium.

Complimentary scenic coach transfers from Adelaide, or secure car-parking in and Mannum post cruise coach transfers to Adelaide are also included.

Private car transfers for up to four people are also available from and to Adelaide CBD to Mannum and return to Adelaide Airport for $150 per person each way, based on two people travelling.

For further information visit

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Share the Love to Show the Love #LoveNSW

NSW's Tourism Recovery Campaign With Heart

The recovery of NSW's tourism industry from the effects of drought and bushfires is in everyone's hands with Destination NSW today launching its new marketing campaign, Now's The Time To Love NSW.

A rally cry to stay 'local', buy 'local' and post photos and videos of our favourite places with the hashtag #LoveNSW, the social media-led marketing campaign will utilise user-generated content to encourage Australians to get away and give back.

Getting involved is simple; visit our charming country towns and vibrant cities, enjoy our many natural wonders, and post imagery of the experience on social media framed by hands in the shape of a love heart.

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said that the new campaign was focused on reminding travellers about all the amazing experiences on offer in Australia's number one holiday destination.

“The prolonged drought and unprecedented bushfires have broken our hearts and had a devastating impact on thousands of operators in our beautiful state,” Minister Ayres said.

“That's why now's the time to love NSW – we need to show the world that our many spectacular sights and experiences are in great shape, and they're welcoming visitors right now,” Ayres said.

Joining the #LoveNSW movement is easy:

  1. Take a #RecoveryWeekend in NSW
  2. Capture a photo in an iconic and inspiring NSW location, framed by your hands in a heart shape
  3. Share the photo on social media with the hashtag #LoveNSW

For more info check out

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The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places