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Sombre Aussie site tops global list of most unusual abandoned places

<p>Each year, thousands of people travel to famous abandoned buildings and hotspots to explore what were once important landmarks. </p> <p>Some deserted sites are more popular than others, as these ten sites received tens of thousands of visitors each year. </p> <p><strong>Buzludzha, Bulgaria</strong></p> <p>The Buzludzha Monument in central Bulgaria has been dubbed the tenth most famous abandoned place in the world, each year welcoming over 18,000 people. </p> <p>The site was constructed in 1981 and used by the Bulgarian communist government, and was in use until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989.</p> <p><strong>Ohio State Reformatory, USA</strong></p> <p>After first opening in 1898, the goal of the Ohio State Reformatory was to truly "reform" and rehabilitate its inmates.</p> <p>The facility was closed in 1990, and each year attracts more than 21,000 visitors.</p> <p><strong>Gereja Ayam, Indonesia</strong></p> <p>The uniquely shaped house of prayer in Central Java continues to be a popular tourist attraction in Indonesia, welcoming more than 50,000 travellers each year. </p> <p>Construction on the church was never completed after work was halted in 2000.</p> <p><strong>Lago di Resia Bell Tower, Italy</strong></p> <p>The 14-century sunken bell tower can be found near the border of Switzerland, emerging from the water from a sunken village where travellers claim they can hear bells tolling, even though there are no bells in the tower. </p> <p>The lonely (and probably haunted) tower receives more than 54,000 tourists each year. </p> <p><strong>Canfranc, Spain</strong></p> <p>The abandoned railway station is located in the Spanish municipality of Canfranc, close to the French border and once was a major hub for cross-border railway traffic.</p> <p>It first opened in 1928, but closed its doors by 1970 before it was reimagined as a hotel.  </p> <p><strong>Beelitz Military Hospital, Germany</strong></p> <p>The large hospital complex was first built in 1898 as a sanatorium, but was transformed into a hospital at the beginning of WWI and has been abandoned since 1990. </p> <p>It's understood Hitler was treated here after being wounded in the Battle of Somme, which could be the reason more than 64,000 travellers flock there each year. </p> <p><strong>Eastern State Penitentiary, USA</strong></p> <p>The prison in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is described as one of the country's most historic prisons and has housed some famous prisoners such as Al Capone.</p> <p>The prison was closed in 1971 and is tagged on social media by more than 79,000 every year. </p> <p><strong>Croix-Rouge, Paris</strong></p> <p>Also known as the Red Cross, this Paris train station has been abandoned since 1939 after France entered WWII.</p> <p>The station was only functional for 16 years, and welcomes more than 95,000 curious travellers each year. </p> <p><strong>Teufelsberg, Germany</strong></p> <p>Teufelsberg was one of the largest listening towers in the world during the Cold war.</p> <p>The site was closed in 1972, but still receives around 128,000 every year. </p> <p><strong>Port Arthur, Australia</strong></p> <p>More than a quarter of a million visitors travel to Port Arthur in Tasmania each year.</p> <p>The site itself was first opened as a timber station in 1830 and is known as a symbol of the country's convict past.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p>

International Travel

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“Australia is a sadder place": Shock as John Blackman's death confirmed

<p>Australian radio legend and star of <em>Hey Hey it's Saturday</em> John Blackman has passed away at the age of 76. </p> <p>Entertainment reporter Peter Ford broke the sad news on <em>The Morning Show</em> on Wednesday morning, saying, “Australia is a sadder place with this news."</p> <p>"John was an incredible man. In the past years, he has put up a huge cancer fight,” Ford said.</p> <p>Blackman had been battling cancer for many years, undergoing numerous operations on his face and skull to remove cancerous tumours.</p> <p>John’s was first diagnosed with cancer in 2018 after visiting his doctor about a seemingly minor blemish on his chin, and he was shocked to learn he had an aggressive form of skin cancer in his mouth and jaw.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/C70CkAEORnX/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/C70CkAEORnX/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Sunrise (@sunriseon7)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>In a 12-hour operation, John’s lower jaw and teeth were removed, and his jaw was replaced with a part of his thigh bone.</p> <p>“It’s like I ploughed into a tree and my life changed forever,” he told the <em>Herald Sun</em> at the time. </p> <p>Blackman became a household name after his time on <em>Hey Hey It's Saturday</em>, and was known and loved for voicing the cheeky stick puppet Dickie Knee. </p> <p>John is survived by his wife Cecile and their adult daughter. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook / Seven</em></p>

Caring

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"There's no place like home": Marcia Hines and her amazing cat share sweet message

<p>Australian music icon and <em>Australian Idol</em> judge Marcia Hines recently took to social media to express her heartfelt gratitude to those who supported her during a <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/marcia-hines-rushed-to-hospital" target="_blank" rel="noopener">recent medical incident</a>. The beloved singer and performer shared a touching message on Instagram, reflecting on the challenges she faced and the overwhelming support she received from healthcare professionals, family, friends and fans – but mostly from her amazing-looking cat, Sistah!</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/C5AeYisL9Pu/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/C5AeYisL9Pu/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Marcia Hines (@themarciahines)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The incident unfolded backstage at Sydney’s Coliseum Theatre just before last Sunday night’s <em>Australian Idol</em> finale. Hines, known for her vibrant presence and insightful critiques on the talent show, collapsed, prompting concerns among the show's crew and audience. As a result, she had to miss the episode, with fellow musician Guy Sebastian stepping in as a guest judge.</p> <p>Following her collapse, Hines was swiftly taken to the hospital, where she received treatment for head injuries, including stitches. Despite the setback, she was able to make a remarkable recovery <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/entertainment/tv/marcia-hines-returns-as-australian-idol-fans-cry-foul-over-upset-win" target="_blank" rel="noopener">in time to return</a> for the Grand Finale show on Monday night.</p> <p>In her Instagram post, Hines expressed profound gratitude for the exceptional care she received during her hospital stay, particularly praising Brad Ceely and the entire team at Blacktown Hospital.</p> <p>"There’s no place like home….." Hines wrote. "Especially when Sistah is here to greet me 🐾 What an action-packed week ❤️ I’ve experienced so much care and love, and none moreso than the exceptional treatment that Brad Ceely and his entire team at Blacktown Hospital gave me during my stay with them.</p> <p>"We are so fortunate to live in a country with such incredible healthcare, and the amazing facilities we have in our Western Sydney suburbs - wow! I’m so grateful to all of the hospital staff - from the tireless nurses to the wonderful administration staff. A special thanks to all of the staff at Mount Druitt Emergency Department, all of the Ambulance teams who got me safely to-and-from hospitals this weekend, and of course Dr Kit Rowe for stitching me up so nicely after my fall. Ouch lol 🤕Thank you for being you and keeping us all safe 🫶🏾</p> <p>"Thank you also to Kyle, Amy and all the team at @australianidol for your love, and also to my @greaseoztour family who I’ll be seeing soon. Thank you also to my family and friends - you’re always there when I need you most 💝"</p> <p>The response to Hines' message was overwhelmingly positive, with fans and well-wishers flooding the comments section with messages of support, encouragement and excitement for her upcoming projects. Many expressed relief at her recovery and eagerly anticipated her return to the stage, particularly in her role in <em>Grease the Musical</em>. </p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Caring

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Bunnings has toppled Woolworths as Australia’s most ‘trusted’ brand – what makes us trust a brand in the first place?

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/louise-grimmer-212082">Louise Grimmer</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em></p> <p>Think of some of the world’s biggest brands: Nike, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Apple. With what do you associate them? Are they positive associations? Now consider, do you trust them?</p> <p>Brand trust is a measure of how customers <em>feel</em> about a brand in terms of how well the brand delivers on its promises. Trust is an important measure for any organisation, large or small.</p> <p>Whether or not customers trust a brand can be the difference between choosing that brand’s products or services over another.</p> <p>In Australia, Woolworths <a href="https://www.roymorgan.com/findings/9472-risk-monitor-quartely-update-december-2023">held the title</a> of our most trusted brand for three and a half years. But recent cost-of-living pressures have put supermarkets in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.</p> <p>Roy Morgan Research’s <a href="https://www.roymorgan.com/findings/9472-risk-monitor-quartely-update-december-2023">most recent trust rankings</a> show Woolworths has slipped to number two, handing its crown to hardware behemoth Bunnings.</p> <p>It’s clear that trust is fragile and can be quickly squandered when brands lose touch with those they serve.</p> <p>So what makes us trust a brand in the first place? And why do we trust some more than others?</p> <h2>What makes us trust a brand?</h2> <p>According to customer experience management firm Qualtrics, <a href="https://www.qualtrics.com/au/experience-management/brand/brand-trust/">brand trust</a> is</p> <blockquote> <p>the confidence that customers have in a brand’s ability to deliver on what it promises. As a brand consistently meets the expectations it has set in the minds of customers, trust in that brand grows.</p> </blockquote> <p>There are many ways to go about measuring brand trust. A typical first step is to ask lots of people what they think, collating their general opinions on product quality and the brand’s customer service experience.</p> <p>This can be strengthened with more quantifiable elements, including:</p> <ul> <li>online ratings and reviews</li> <li>social media “sentiment” (positive, negative or neutral)</li> <li>corporate social responsibility activities</li> <li>philanthropic efforts</li> <li>customer data security and privacy.</li> </ul> <p>Some surveys go even deeper, asking respondents to consider a brand’s vision and mission, its approaches to sustainability and worker standards, and how honest its advertising appears.</p> <h2>Is this a real and useful metric?</h2> <p>The qualitative methodology used by <a href="https://www.roymorgan.com/findings/9472-risk-monitor-quartely-update-december-2023">Roy Morgan</a> to determine what Australian consumers think about 1,000 brands has been administered over two decades, so the data can be reliably compared across time.</p> <p>On measures of both trust and distrust, it asks respondents which brands they trust and why. This approach is useful because it tells us which elements factor into brand trust judgements.</p> <p><a href="https://roymorgan-cms-prod.s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/07035120/9472-Risk-Monitor-Quartely-Update-December-2023-1-1.pdf">Customer responses</a> about the survey’s most recent winner, Bunnings, show that customer service, product range, value-for-money pricing and generous returns policies are the key drivers of strong trust in its brand.</p> <p>Here are some examples:</p> <blockquote> <p>Great customer service. Love their welcoming staff. Whether it’s nuts and bolts or a new toilet seat, they have it all, value for money.</p> <p>Great products and price and have a no quibble refund policy.</p> <p>Great stock range, help is there if you need it and it is my go-to for my gardening and tool needs. Really convenient trading hours, and their return policy is good.</p> </blockquote> <p>In addition to trust, there are three other metrics commonly used to assess brand performance:</p> <ul> <li> <p><strong>brand equity</strong> – the commercial or social value of consumer perceptions of a brand</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>brand loyalty</strong> – consumer willingness to consistently choose one brand over others regardless of price or competitor’s efforts</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>brand affinity</strong> – the emotional connection and common values between a brand and its customers.</p> </li> </ul> <p>However, trust is becoming a disproportionately important metric as consumers demand that companies provide <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernhardschroeder/2020/01/16/from-the-traditional-to-the-outrageous-four-brands-that-use-honest-transparency-to-build-loyal-customers-with-non-traditional-marketing-and-branding/?sh=6689f81320a1">increased transparency</a> and exhibit greater care for their customers, not just their shareholders.</p> <h2>Why do Australians trust retailers so much?</h2> <p>Of Australia’s top ten most trusted brands, seven are retailers – Bunnings, Woolworths, Aldi, Coles, Kmart, Myer and Big W.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/582082/original/file-20240314-28-h0xdf4.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/582082/original/file-20240314-28-h0xdf4.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/582082/original/file-20240314-28-h0xdf4.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=279&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/582082/original/file-20240314-28-h0xdf4.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=279&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/582082/original/file-20240314-28-h0xdf4.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=279&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/582082/original/file-20240314-28-h0xdf4.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=350&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/582082/original/file-20240314-28-h0xdf4.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=350&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/582082/original/file-20240314-28-h0xdf4.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=350&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="table shows that Bunnings is now Australia's most trusted brand, and Optus the least trusted brand." /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">The latest changes to Australia’s most trusted and most distrusted brand rankings.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.roymorgan.com/findings/9472-risk-monitor-quartely-update-december-2023">Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia)</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>This <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90901331/america-most-trusted-brands-companies-report-2023-morning-consult">stands in contrast</a> with the United States, where the most trusted brands are predominantly from the healthcare sector.</p> <p>So why do retail brands dominate our trust rankings?</p> <p>They certainly aren’t small local businesses. Our retail sector is <a href="https://www.afr.com/companies/retail/in-the-shopping-trolley-war-the-supermarkets-have-to-give-20240122-p5ez4k">highly concentrated</a>, dominated by a few giant retail brands.</p> <p>We have only two major department stores (David Jones and Myer), three major discount department stores (Big W, Target and Kmart) and a <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-23/a-history-of-the-duopoly-coles-woolworths/103494070">supermarket “duopoly”</a> (Coles and Woolworths).</p> <p>It’s most likely then that these brands have been enjoying leftover goodwill from the pandemic.</p> <p>As Australia closed down to tackle COVID-19, the retail sector, and in particular the grocery sector, was credited with enabling customers to <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/inside-story-how-woolworths-and-coles-joined-forces-to-avert-covid-19-disaster-20200611-p551lk.html">safely access</a> food and household goods.</p> <p>Compared with many other countries, we did not see a predominance of empty shelves across Australia. Retailers in this country stepped up – implementing or improving their online shopping capabilities and ensuring physical stores followed health guidelines and protocols.</p> <p>Now, with the pandemic behind us and in an environment of high inflation, the <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-20/woolworths-coles-supermarket-tactics-grocery-four-corners/103405054">big two supermarkets</a> face <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2024/feb/20/do-coles-woolworths-specials-actually-offer-savings-choice-survey-supermarket-price-gouging-inquiry">growing distrust</a> and a <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Supermarket_Prices/SupermarketPrices">public inquiry</a>.</p> <h2>Lessons from the losers</h2> <p>After <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2023/nov/20/optus-scandals-network-outage-cyberattack-ceo-resignation-kelly-bayer-rosmarin">two high profile disasters</a>, Optus finds itself the most distrusted brand in Australia.</p> <p>Its companions in the “most distrusted” group include social media brands Meta (Facebook), TikTok and X.</p> <p>Qantas, Medibank Private, Newscorp, Nestle and Amazon also made the top 10.</p> <p>The main reason consumers distrust brands is for a perceived failure to live up to their promises and responsibilities.</p> <p>For example, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2023/09/18/amazon-working-conditions-safety-osha-doj/">worker conditions at multinational firm Amazon</a> are seen by some consumers as a reflection of questionable business practices.</p> <p>Other brands may have earned a reputation for failing to deliver the basics, like when chronic <a href="https://www.afr.com/companies/transport/compensating-travellers-for-cancelled-flights-long-overdue-20240212-p5f45c">flight delays and cancellations</a> plagued many Qantas customers.</p> <h2>Lessons from the winners</h2> <p>On the flip side, consumers have rewarded budget-friendly retailers with increased trust in the most recent rankings.</p> <p>Aldi, Kmart and Bunnings have improved their standing as trusted brands, no doubt in part because they have helped many Australian consumers deal with tight household budgets.</p> <p>As discretionary consumer spending continues to tighten, we may see a more permanent consumer shopping <a href="https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/retail/rise-of-the-value-shopper-as-budgets-are-crunched-a-threat-and-opportunity-for-retailers/news-story/9b7a355cfb3866ec60d2ee42b7cbd567">shift towards value for money</a> brands and discounters.</p> <p>Trust is a fragile thing to maintain once earned. As we move through 2024, Australian companies must pay close attention to their most important asset – strong relationships with those they serve.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/225578/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/louise-grimmer-212082">Louise Grimmer</a>, Senior Lecturer in Retail Marketing, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/bunnings-has-toppled-woolworths-as-australias-most-trusted-brand-what-makes-us-trust-a-brand-in-the-first-place-225578">original article</a>.</p>

Money & Banking

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The cheapest places to travel in 2024

<p dir="ltr">With the cost of living continuing to rise, many people are looking for cost-friendly ways to travel the world in 2024. </p> <p dir="ltr">Some destinations are more economic than others, with these somewhat overlooked holiday hotspots showcasing the best of travelling without breaking the bank.</p> <p dir="ltr">If you’re looking for a new adventure this year, these corners of the globe are the cheapest places to travel in 2024.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>The Philippines</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">The underrated gem located only a few hours northeast of Australia is one of the cheapest destinations in Asia, it's a wonder why more tourists don’t visit. </p> <p dir="ltr">Not only is it home to over 7,500 picturesque islands, six UNESCO World Heritage Sites and an endless chain of pristine beaches, it's also very affordable with resort accommodation under $100 a night is not hard to find.</p> <p dir="ltr">On top of accommodation, day tours and activities (snorkelling, for example) will set you back around $30 to $40.</p> <p dir="ltr">Flights are also reasonable in cost, with return flights from Sydney to Manila coming in around $600 per person. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Turkey</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Travellers can get to Istanbul from Melbourne and back for approximately $1,300 per person, to visit some of the world’s most historical sites. </p> <p dir="ltr">Turkey is a paradise for those travelling on a budget, with mouthwatering meals can be found regularly for as little as $5, and even less for street food.</p> <p dir="ltr">To make it even better, striking accommodation in the historic Galata region can be as low as $50 a night. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Hungary</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Hungary is regularly dubbed one of Europe’s cheapest tourist destinations, with  accommodation, dining and entertainment costs significantly lower than the neighbouring countries.</p> <p dir="ltr">Expect to part with $60 to $100 a night for a pretty-as-a-picture hotel in the city centre, around $10 to $15 for meals in restaurants, and anywhere between $7 to $30 for activities. </p> <p dir="ltr">There are also tourist passes available that make these costs even cheaper. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Albania</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Located on the western part of the Balkan peninsula, this destination is often overlooked by tourists, making it an ideal budget-friendly destination. </p> <p dir="ltr">The stunning country is home to UNESCO World Heritage sites and turquoise beaches, all while keeping your budget in mind. </p> <p dir="ltr">Beachside accommodation can be found for as little as $70 a night, with prices comparable to Turkey for restaurant meals. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p> </p>

International Travel

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8 places you should never keep your phone

<p><strong>In your pocket</strong></p> <p>Keeping your phone in your pocket seems logical, but you could be doing more harm than good. According to Dr Lilly Friedman, this is actually the worst place to store your phone. “When phones are on, connected to a wireless network, and placed in a pocket, the radiation is two to seven times higher than if it were placed in a purse or holster,” she says.</p> <p>There is a correlation between radiation from a mobile phone and tumour growth, she adds. Plus, radiation can change the structure of DNA and affect male fertility, according to Dr Friedman. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer also found that mobile phone radiation is additionally carcinogenic to humans. Merely sitting on your phone could cause health issues such as sciatica or back problems.</p> <p><strong>In your bra</strong></p> <p>Some research and case studies show that keeping your phone in your bra could be linked to breast cancer due to the radiations and vibrations from the phone. That said, there is not enough evidence to establish a definite relationship between the two. Still, keeping your phone in your bra, especially a sports bra, is a bad idea due to the skin-irritating bacteria it could harbour, Muscle &amp; Fitness reports.</p> <p><strong>In your bed or under your pillow</strong></p> <p>Sleeping with your phone is a bad idea for a few reasons. First, keeping your phone under your pillow could build up heat and present a potential fire hazard, especially if your phone is charging or has a defect. It’s also known that the LED light from phone screens can disrupt melatonin production and circadian rhythms, hurting your sleep quality, according to the National Sleep Foundation.</p> <p>And, of course, there’s also radiation to consider. The amounts of radio frequency radiation mobile phones give off are the same ones emitted from microwaves. There is also concern about the safety of mobile phone use with respect to cancer and brain tumours, per the American Cancer Society.</p> <p><strong>Plugged in</strong></p> <p>Keeping your phone plugged in when it has a full battery causes damage to the battery itself, according to pcmag.com. It’s not that your phone ‘overloads’ with power, but heat build-ups from stacking things on top of your phone or keeping it under your pillow, making your phone hotter and damaging your battery.</p> <p><strong>Close to your face</strong></p> <p>Keeping your phone close to your face means bacteria transfers to and from your phone, making your skin and phone dirtier. This combination leads to more acne, skin irritation and even wrinkles, according to Allure. Try using ear pods instead to keep the surface of your phone at a distance from your face.</p> <p><strong>In your glovebox</strong></p> <p>Extreme temperatures are the worst conditions for your phone. So keeping your device in your car’s glovebox during the extremely hot or cold months of the year could lead to problems. According to Time, excess heat can cause everything from data loss or corruption to battery leakage. The cold weather presents just as many issues for your device. In cold temperatures, many smartphones shut off, have display problems, shortened battery life and in rare cases screen shattering.</p> <p><strong>On your beach towel </strong></p> <p>Notice a theme here? The extreme sun and heat at the beach is a recipe for phone disaster. Protect your device after you finish taking beautiful beach pictures. Hot and sunny conditions could, again, cause your phone to overheat – and getting sand in your phone won’t help either.</p> <p><strong>Anywhere in the bathroom</strong></p> <p>Although phones could arguably be the new newspaper, it’s not a good idea to take yours into the bathroom. Even if you keep your device on a counter or away from the toilet, anything within a metre of a flushing toilet could mean bacteria or viruses in the air end up on your phone, according to a study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.</p> <p>“The detection of bacteria and viruses falling out onto surfaces in bathrooms after flushing indicated that they remain airborne long enough to settle on surfaces throughout the bathroom,” wrote the study authors.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/8-places-you-should-never-keep-your-phone" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Technology

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14 best places to travel in 2024

<p>If you’ve been to an airport recently, what we’re about to tell you will come as no surprise: Travel is back in a BIG way. Travellers are hitting the skies – and the rails, roads and seas – in record numbers, looking for the best places to travel.</p> <p>So what does that mean for 2024? “We’re looking at a wave of excitement over travelling with family and friends,” according to Heather Heverling, managing director of Audley Travel. “One thing we’re seeing a lot of is ‘skip-gen’ travel,” when grandparents take their grandkids on holidays but leave the parents at home. (We say: Those are some lucky kids!)</p> <p>And while domestic travel will certainly be popular, people are also looking to expand their horizons. Interest in Japan is booming, says Heverling. And there’s a desire to leave the crowds behind and find hidden gems in spots like France, where many people will be headed to watch the Olympics this summer.</p> <p>We know – there are so many amazing places to go and cool things to see, and it’s hard to narrow things down! To help you pick the perfect spot, we’ve rounded up some of the best places to visit in 2024, whether you’re looking for quick trips, beach getaways, cheap places to travel, city experiences or far-flung adventures. Read on to get a whole year’s worth of inspiration!</p> <p><strong>South Island, New Zealand</strong></p> <p>Wondering which hot spot to visit first? Our pick for 2024 is South Island, New Zealand. Christchurch is considered the base camp for South Island explorations. During the day, kayak in the emerald waters of Abel Tasman National Park, bike or hike to gorgeous hot springs, or sample New Zealand’s best pours at spots like Tussock Hill Vineyards (where you can also spend the night in new luxury suites nestled in the vineyard). When the sun goes down, it will be time for spectacular stargazing at Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, which recently became the first Dark Sky Reserve in New Zealand.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> Find a hotel that puts you right in the heart of Christchurch and within walking distance of restaurants, shops and the Botanical Gardens.</p> <p><strong>Paris, France</strong></p> <p>Everyone is talking about visiting France this year, and for good reason. Paris will be hosting the Summer Olympics, with events held throughout the City of Lights and the surrounding area – including boating and swimming events on the Seine River and dressage events at Versailles. (According to France’s tourism office, 95 per cent of the Olympic and Paralympic events will be held in existing locations for a more sustainable world event.) The city is in full-throttle preparation mode, with new hotels opening, art exhibits launching and plenty of projects underway to make Paris shine even brighter than usual.</p> <p>And that’s not all France has going on. June 6, 2024, is the 80th anniversary of D-Day, when Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy. To get the most context out of a visit, it helps to go with a guide who can take you through the area and bring the past to life through storytelling and interactive exhibits.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> If possible, base yourself in the ever-popular Left Bank neighbourhood in the 6tharrondissement of the city, where you’ll be able to enjoy views right across the river of the stunning Notre Dame Cathedral, which is set to reopen in late 2024 after its devastating 2019 fire. Like we said, it’s a big year!</p> <p><strong>Cambodia</strong> </p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> More ways to explore and two new airports to reach the country</p> <p>Cambodia is a bucket-list destination for many travellers. “With the addition of luxury lodges and resorts, travellers can now enjoy a true luxury immersion in Cambodia – blending ancient ruins and culture, cuisine and handicrafts, rainforest and jungle, and ending with a sublime beach stay,” says Brady Binstadt, CEO of GeoEx, an adventure-travel company. In the little-visited Cardamom Forest Protected Area, options for hiking, mountain biking, boating and bird-watching abound, says Binstadt, who also recommends boating through lush forest to Tatai village, where visitors can walk by the river, kayak through mangroves and listen to the symphonic sounds of wildlife from a floating lodge.</p> <p>You’ll also want to visit Angkor Wat, famed for its glorious temples. Happily, reaching Angkor Wat just became a lot easier with the brand-new, $1 billion Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport, which is just a short drive from the UNESCO Heritage Site temple complex. Later in 2024, the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, will also unveil a new $1.5 billion airport, providing even more ways to reach the country.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> Shinta Mani Wild in the Cardamom Mountains is a luxury jungle retreat about three hours from Phnom Penh; it boasts its own zip line over the waterfalls and river where the remote lodge is located. Another unique option is Six Senses Krabey Island off the southern coast, where 40 glass-front villas are tucked into the dense foliage of this romantic resort. Indulge in a treatment at the luxe spa after exploring the nearby Kbal Chhay waterfalls and the waterways of Ream National Park.</p> <p><strong>Los Angeles, California </strong></p> <p>Yes, we know, you hear “LA” and think beach and sand. But for 2024, replace that with cool art and culture, since Los Angeles will be hosting two awesome openings. When it opens in February, Destination Crenshaw will be the largest Black art program in the US, with a two-kilometre stretch of Crenshaw Boulevard in South LA, containing 100 commissioned works by Black artists displayed within beautifully landscaped community spaces.</p> <p>And September will see the launch of Getty’s colossal PST ART: Art &amp; Science Collide. The latest edition of the initiative (previously known as Pacific Standard Time) will include more than 50 exhibitions across the Los Angeles area, including iconic spots like the Griffith Observatory, the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Getty Center. The exhibits aren’t just paintings and sculptures. They are intersections of art, science and the natural world – including “Color in Motion: Chromatic Explorations of Cinema” at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures; “From Fire We Are Born,” which explores Native American culture at the Fowler Museum at UCLA; and “Seeing the Unseeable: Data, Design, Art” at the ArtCenter College of Design.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> No matter which room or suite you book at the InterContinental Los Angeles, you’ll be greeted with what feels like a never-ending view. You’ll see everything from the Pacific Ocean to the Hollywood sign and downtown skyscrapers. And not only is it the tallest building west of Chicago, but the location puts you right in the middle of all the arts action.</p> <p><strong>Okavango Delta, Botswana </strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> Sustainable new safari camps deep in the Delta.</p> <p>Always dreamed of going on safari? Botswana should be at the top of your 2024 travel list. A decade after being designated the 1000th site on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, Botswana’s watery Okavango Delta remains a captivating marvel of nature that differentiates it from other safari destinations. The intricate network of waterways, lush greenery and diverse ecosystems presents amazing opportunities to observe animals like elephants, impala, kudu, zebra and more from a mokoro, or dugout boat, as you float silently through the area.</p> <p>For an intimate stay in the wilderness areas, try the new tented camps. If that’s not your thing, there are also fancy, all-inclusive hotels that wrap game drives into their included offerings.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> First, there’s the Natural Selection’s Tawana Camp, which is set to open in May 2024 in the Moremi Game Reserve. It will combine modern luxury (think: multi-bedroom, free-standing suites with private pools) with intimate safari experiences. Bonus: This corner of Botswana is known for its high population of lions and leopards.</p> <p>Atzaro Okavango from African Bush Camps opens in March 2024, offering sustainable luxury in the heart of the Delta. This eco-friendly property is made from recycled materials and powered entirely by solar energy. Guests stay in air-conditioned suites with their own plunge pools and will be treated to year-round sightings of elephants, buffalo, lions, leopards, giraffes, hippos and other African wildlife.</p> <p><strong>Turks and Caicos </strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> Because kiteboarding will be the thing to do in 2024 – and Turks and Caicos is also heaven on earth.</p> <p>We’re calling it: When kiteboarding makes its official Olympic debut in 2024, the sport will surge in popularity. But don’t go to Paris to do it. Instead, head to Turks and Caicos, a fabulous warm-weather winter getaway that offers some of the best kiteboarding conditions in the world. “The island’s consistent trade winds, shallow warm waters and large areas of flat, uncrowded riding make it an ideal destination for this thrilling water sport,” says Vasco Borges, the owner of Beach Enclave Turks and Caicos and a passionate kiteboarder.</p> <p>Swimming and snorkelling are popular activities on the island as well, and avid divers love the mammoth undersea coral wall off Grand Turk. Plus, Turks and Caicos is home to some of the most gorgeous beaches in the world. In other words, it’s always one of the best places to travel!</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> New for 2024, Beach Enclave will offer new beach houses with privacy, tranquility and an oceanfront private pool on the North Shore. The Grace Bay location of the multi-location resort is introducing contemporary villas with a blend of indoor and outdoor living, called the Reserve at Grace Bay. And finally, at the resort’s Long Bay location, which is known as a kiteboarder’s haven, you’ll find new beach houses along the pristine white-sand beachfront, ideal for families and water-sports enthusiasts.</p> <p><strong>Belize</strong></p> <p>Have you heard of the Great Barrier Reef? We thought so. How about Belize’s Barrier Reef? Not so much, right? We’re here to tell you that in 2024, it’s time to put this natural wonder on your must-visit list. The world’s second-largest barrier reef (behind Australia’s), it is actually the biggest reef in both the northern and western hemispheres. The snorkelling here is magnificent, and so is the diving – plus, it’s not as crowded as the better-known Australian alternative.</p> <p>If you’re looking for the perfect home base while visiting, consider Belize’s largest island, Ambergris Caye. The Belize Barrier Reef is just a 400-metres offshore, and you’ll definitely want to check out the protected Hol Chan Marine Reserve, which is just a 10-minute boat ride from the main town of San Pedro. When you’re not snorkelling or swimming, spend your days popping into Belizean art galleries and souvenir shops or just lounging on the white sand.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> Try the Alaia Belize, an Autograph Collection hotel in the island’s historic town of San Pedro. This beachfront hotel is just 600 metres from the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve and has stunning views of the Caribbean Sea. Plus, it has an on-site dive shop and three pools, including Belize’s first-ever suspended rooftop pool and a lounge with 360-degree views.</p> <p><strong>Paros, Greece</strong></p> <p>Have you heard of destination dupes? According to Expedia, these are “places that are a little unexpected, sometimes more affordable and every bit as delightful as the tried-and-true destinations travellers love.” One of our favourites on Expedia’s list is this stunning Greek island that usually sails under the most travellers’ Mediterranean radars in uncrowded bliss while the hordes of tourists head to Mykonos and Santorini.</p> <p>Visiting the island, which is about a two-hour ferry ride south of well-known party island Mykonos and right next to Naxos, is one of the best things to do in Greece, since it means enjoying idyllic beaches framed by the azure waters of the Aegean Sea. While you’re here, explore the winding streets and charming villages of Naoussa and Lefkes, and sip whipped coffee frappes or ouzo at the picturesque port of Parikia (the island’s capital), home to whitewashed houses adorned with vibrant bougainvillea.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> You can’t go wrong at the newly opened Minois hotel, where the whitewashed walls hold luxurious touches, such as decadent dining at Olvo and pampering spa treatments. But the best part may be simply floating in the infinity pool with views of the sea spread out in front of you.</p> <p><strong>Kyoto, Japan</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> An array of new luxury hotels and the opening of the first Nintendo Museum.</p> <p>“One thing we can say for sure is that interest in visiting Japan is not slowing down,” says Audley Travel’s Heverling. Japan finally welcomed visitors back in 2023, and the numbers are soaring. And for 2024, we’re seeing cool new openings and numerous developments that will make your trip even easier. Kyoto, especially, will be the city to watch in the new year, when the world’s first Nintendo Museum opens in spring 2024 in the former Nintendo Uji Kokura factory site in Kyoto. This will be a big draw for pop-culture lovers and gamers.</p> <p>Even if you don’t know a controller from a cruller, though, Kyoto will enthral you with ancient temples and beautiful architecture that make it look like a real-life fairy-tale town. Plus, there are four amazing new hotels opening in Kyoto in 2024, where you can happily rest, relax and enjoy.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> Luxury brand Banyan Tree Higashiyama Kyoto will feature a private onsen bath; elegant Six Senses Kyoto will have a spa and zen-like rooms situated around seasonal gardens; and the 313-room Hilton Kyoto will be the brand’s first flagship hotel in Kyoto. Finally, the new Regent Kyoto (an IHG property) is opening a resort-like property in a hundred-year-old garden complex that’s also home to a Michelin-starred restaurant.</p> <p><strong>Northern Territories, Canada </strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> An almost-guaranteed opportunity to see the northern lights during the “solar max”.</p> <p>There are two truths about seeing the northern lights: They’re beautiful, and they’re elusive. Unlike the solar eclipse, there’s no date or time that you’re guaranteed to see the night-time spectacular. You do need, however, to go north… in winter… and then wait. That’s why we’re so excited about the news from the Northern Territories of Canada, where a “solar max” cycle is going to make it possible to see the aurora borealis with new ease. According to the Canada Tourism Board, in the Northwest Territories, “travellers have a 98 per cent chance of witnessing the spectacle” during a three-night stay November through March, when longer hours of darkness each day and clear nights make it easier to spot the lights.</p> <p>The jewelled green, purple and gold lights can be seen due to the perfect combination of clear nights, flat landscape, low humidity and the location beneath the earth’s auroral oval. Even better, 2024 is the peak of the 11-year solar cycle, which means the light show will be even more dramatic than usual.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay: </em></span>The main gateway to the area is Yellowknife, the location of Aurora Village, an entirely Indigenous-owned experience that leads guided night-time tours and where you can go dog sledding and snowshoeing. You can also spend the evening in a cosy teepee, complete with a wood stove, which makes it easy to pop out and see the aurora borealis when it lights up the sky.</p> <p><strong>Mexico City</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> Tour tourism for live-music lovers – and Madonna fans!</p> <p>Expedia predicts that “tour tourism,” following a favourite artist on their headlining tour, will thrive in 2024. “In 2023, the cultural impact of the Eras and Renaissance tours was undeniable, driving ticket sales but also travel and tourism,” according to Expedia Brands travel expert Melanie Fish. Perhaps driven by ticket prices, 30 per cent of travellers told Expedia they would travel outside of their home city for a concert because tickets were cheaper elsewhere, with Mexico City coming out near the top of that list. We’re totally in on the trend, especially since Madonna will play four dates the Palacio de los Desportes in 2024, making Mexico City a live-music hot spot for the coming year.</p> <p>And as an extra bonus, Mexico City is an affordable warm-weather destination, not to mention a hub for art, culture and cuisine. Translation: There’s plenty to do and see when you’re not rocking out. Check out the Colonia Roma neighbourhood, called CDMX – often referred to as “the Williamsburg of Mexico City” for its hipster vibe and cool architecture, art galleries and restaurants.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> The new boutique hotel Colima 71 features hundreds of authentic Mexican art pieces, a craft coffee bar with an on-site barista and plenty of communal spaces perfect for mingling with fellow travellers. Located in the heart of artsy CDMX, it’s also a super convenient and central location.</p> <p><strong>Washington, D.C.</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> To watch democracy at work during an election year… and visit some cool museums, too.</p> <p>Following a record year of tourism to the US capital, 2024 will likely see visits continue to rise, thanks to the upcoming presidential election in November. But even if you’re not a pollster, there are plenty of other attractions in the nation’s capital that make it one of the best places to travel year-round. First, travellers will be happy to hear that it’s easier to get into the heart of the city now that the Metro added service to Dulles International Airport with direct service on the Silver Line of the underground train system – and it’s never more than $6!</p> <p>While you’re in town, check out the newly renovated and reopened National Museum of Women in the Arts, which spotlights women artists from the 17th century to the present. And in 2024, the Smithsonian’s contemporary art museum, the Hirshhorn, will be celebrating its 50th anniversary with a collection of new exhibits. Also, remember: Nearly all D.C. museums are free, so the sightseeing part of your trip will be super affordable.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> Book a room at The Dupont Circle, a hotel that successfully walks the line between feeling luxurious and homey. It’s steps away from dozens of art galleries and museums, and it boasts an impressive art collection of its own. Don’t miss brunch and dinner at the delicious new American on-site Pembroke restaurant.</p> <p><strong>The Pekoe Trail, Sri Lanka</strong> </p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> To check out amazing new hiking trails and old cultures.</p> <p>The newly opened Pekoe Trail in Sri Lanka is a fantastic way to explore the country’s varied landscapes. Ten years in the making, the Pekoe Trail is the first collection of destination-based walking trails that aims to support remote communities, promote cultural heritage and showcase Sri Lankan scenery. Most of the trails opened in the fall of 2023, with a few more opening at the beginning of 2024.</p> <p>The 300-kilometre route starts in the central city of Kandy, famous for the Temple of the Tooth, and meanders through to stunning mountain views of Ella. Audley Travel, says Heverling, can arrange treks to the most scenic parts of the Sri Lanka trail. Hikers will walk on the region’s famed tea trails, as well as through forests, jungle and remote towns and villages.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> The experts at Audley recommend Mountain Heavens for its fantastic infinity pool that will make you feel like you’re literally floating over the valley. Big, comfy beds and modern amenities, not to mention a delicious included breakfast, all add up to a very luxurious end to a hike.</p> <p><strong>Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates </strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> Seaside vibes in Dubai’s under-the-radar neighbour to the north.</p> <p>Dubai is always popular, and always full of flashy new attractions and frenetic energy. But if you want an Emirates vacation that’s a little more relaxing, head 40 minutes north of the city to this under-the-radar gem. Well, under the radar until 2024, that is, when the luxury Anantara Mina Al Arab Ras Al Khaimah Resort opens and more people realise that it’s one of the best places to travel. It’s set amid the area’s stunning mountains and mangroves in the seaside neighbourhood of Mina Al Arab, which is quickly becoming a trendy destination, with new openings and plenty of sunshine.</p> <p>Ras Al Khaimah is a great spot for outdoorsy types, who can snorkel or swim in the crystal-clear turquoise waters, then head off for a quad biking adventure in the desert or soar over the desert on the world’s longest zipline. And speaking of world records: If you get a chance to spend New Year’s Eve here, don’t miss it. The Emirate holds multiple Guinness World Records for its spectacular fireworks performances held during its New Year’s celebrations.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay: </em></span>The Anantara Resort here is more than just a getaway from the bustling city. It also boasts Bali-style overwater bungalows for an over-the-top romantic getaway.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/flightstravel-hints-tips/14-best-places-to-travel-in-2024?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

International Travel

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Aussie town becomes the hottest place on earth for one day

<p>A small town in regional South Australia has broken records amidst the relentless heatwave slamming Aussies, by being named the hottest place on earth for a whole day. </p> <p>Marree, located 589 kilometres north of Adelaide, is home to fewer than 100 residents, with the town acting as a service centre for the large sheep and cattle stations in the northeast of the state. </p> <p>Locals sweltered through record-breaking temperatures on Wednesday, with temperatures of 46.4ºC making the tiny town the hottest place on the planet for the whole day. </p> <p>According to online world temperatures site <a href="https://www.eldoradoweather.com/climate/world-extremes/world-temp-rainfall-extremes.php?extremes=World#google_vignette" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-link-type="article-inline">El Dorado Weather</a>, Australia took out not just the Number 1 spot, but was also home to the top 15 hottest places in the world, with cities and towns in Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales also making the list. </p> <p>Five Aussie states cracked temperatures of over 44ºC according to the Bureau of Meteorology, with the extreme weather to continue over the weekend. </p> <p>Other than Victoria and Tasmania, every state has been issued an official extreme weather warning, with senior meteorologist Miriam Bradbury saying on Monday that heatwave conditions were not likely to start easing until “early next week”.</p> <p>With the worst of the heatwave expected to hit on Saturday, people are being urged to stay indoors during the hottest part of the day, to wear sunscreen, sunglasses and hats and stay hydrated.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Google Maps</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Surprising city dubbed Australia's coolest place

<p>An American publication has given the title of "Australia's coolest city" to a surprising contender.</p> <p>While most might think the crown would go to either Sydney or Melbourne, it seems the <em>Wall Street Journal</em> believes Adelaide is the coolest capital city in Australia.</p> <p><em>WSJ</em> reporter Emily Pennington penned the surprising winner of the title, saying the South Australian capital has more on offer to travellers than you might think. </p> <p>"Sydney and Melbourne might pull in more tourists but Adelaide has quietly made its name as a go-to escape for gastronomes and nature lovers," she wrote. </p> <p>Pennington cited the "compact" nature of the city being a major selling point, making it easy for travellers to explore all the best that Adelaide has to offer.</p> <p>She wrote, "Despite such a compact footprint, the one-square-mile city centre is full of shops and restaurants. Beyond that, leafy suburbs give way to the Adelaide Hills, where koalas roam, and to the sea."</p> <p>But what really tips Adelaide over the edge on the "cool" scale, according to the article, is its foodie scene, thanks to its proximity to both the ocean and lush valleys of locally-grown produce.</p> <p>"Best of all it's supremely easy to wander Adelaide by foot, stumbling upon discoveries while enjoying long, post-food-coma strolls."</p> <p>Predictably, the feedback on the article has been mixed.</p> <p>"It's a good place if you like wine and or want to retire but that's about it," one person wrote on Instagram.</p> <p>However, one Adelaide native who has been residing in New York for over two decades defended their hometown, writing, "I'll refer to this article next time a fellow Aussie says 'I'm sorry' when I say I'm originally from Adelaide."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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The "happiest place on Earth" heading Down Under

<p>Australia could be getting its first Disneyland theme park, after one state capital claim they have the "perfect spot for it". </p> <p>Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp has thrown her support behind the idea of a Down Under Disney, while also pitching the perfect location. </p> <p>“As Australia’s capital city of fun, of course we should have a Disney theme park in Melbourne. We’ve even got the perfect spot for it – Fishermans Bend,” Ms Capp told the <em>Herald Sun</em>.</p> <p>“We saw with the Firefly Zipline just how much Melburnians love a thrilling ride. At Fishermans Bend, exhilarating roller-coasters could soar over the Yarra as part of a Disneyland, Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom."</p> <p>“Melbourne also offers visitors the best tourism experience available in Victoria, from world-class hotels, unbeatable retail offerings and some of the best food and drink in Australia."</p> <p>“I know a Disney theme park in our municipality would be a huge hit with residents — myself included — visitors, students and traders.”</p> <p>Another piece of land has been floated for the location, with a prime spot north of Geelong, 30 minutes from the CBD, seeming to be a more achievable spot for a theme park. </p> <p>A third site has also been proposed, with David Fox, the son of billionaire trucking magnate Lindsey Fox, confirming an entertainment precinct is already earmarked for the huge block of vacant land near Avalon Airport.</p> <p>“There’s an entertainment precinct that we’ve defined. I wouldn’t say (for a) Disneyland at this moment in time, but anything is possible,” Mr Fox said.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Domestic Travel

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The 30 best places to explore in London, according to a local

<p><strong>Top things to do in London</strong></p> <p>London ranks high among the best places to travel in the world, attracting millions of visitors from all corners of the globe every year. It may not be one of the cheap places to travel, but there are so many things to do in London that it’s definitely worth a visit. So, once you’ve figured out the best time to visit London and the best time to book a flight – and you’ve watched King Charles’s coronation to get in the mood – where to start?</p> <p>If you’ve never been to London, you’ll want to make sure to see the most important sights, but also some hidden gems we locals enjoy. I have been living in London for more than five years. I planned to just stay for a few weeks, but I fell in love with the city at first sight – and I still schedule in regular time for exploring my adopted home. I love to share my favourite spots as a travel writer, and I am on speed dial for friends, family and friends of friends who are visiting.</p> <p>It’s impossible to fit everything London has to offer into one trip (or even one lifetime!), but it’s easy to make the most of your time if you just know how.</p> <p><strong>Big Ben</strong></p> <p>Big Ben is London’s most famous landmark, so it’s a must-see for all travellers. The name refers to the huge bell inside the clock tower, which first chimed on May 31, 1859, but the whole building at the north end of the Houses of Parliament goes by this nickname. Big Ben was renamed Elizabeth Tower in honour of Queen Elizabeth II‘s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, but most people don’t call it that.</p> <p>The tower underwent extensive renovations from summer 2017, and there was much excitement when the bells first rang again in November 2022. It’s still not possible to climb up Big Ben quite yet, but the big reopening for visitors is scheduled for later in 2023. Your best bet for a picture-perfect view of the tower and the Houses of Parliament is from Westminster Bridge.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: If you want to take a selfie with Big Ben, the best spot is just behind the landmark, on Great George Street. When coming from Westminster Bridge, walk past the tower and the tube station (Westminster) toward St James’s Park, Westminster Abbey to your left. While it might be a bit cliché to pose next to a red phone box, the photo will still look great on your Instagram – and many Londoners snap this shot too.</p> <p><strong>Westminster Abbey</strong></p> <p>If you followed King Charles‘s coronation (or other festive royal events such as Prince William and Kate Middleton‘s wedding) you’re probably already familiar with Westminster Abbey. But London’s most iconic church is even more impressive when you step foot inside yourself. Westminster Abbey was founded in 960 AD and has been the coronation church since 1066. It is also the final resting place of no fewer than 17 monarchs (the late Queen Elizabeth is buried in Windsor Castle), scientists such as Sir Isaac Newton and world-famous writers including Charles Dickens.</p> <p>Westminster Abbey is both one of London’s top tourist attractions and a working church with daily services – so be prepared for crowds and parts of the abbey closed. The church is busiest in the mornings, so visit after lunchtime if you can book a time slot.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: While it’s perfectly possible to explore the abbey with an audio guide (included in the ticket price), their guided tours are worth a bit of extra money. You will get to see parts of Westminster Abbey that are normally closed to the public, including royal tombs, the Poets’ Corner and Lady Chapel – and you’ll get to hear lots of interesting facts and anecdotes.</p> <p><strong>The London Eye</strong></p> <p>The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the Thames River, and it’s been a London landmark of its own for over 20 years, so no list of the things to do in London would be complete without mentioning it. But is it really worth it? Let’s face it, the 30-minute-ride comes with a big price tag and potentially long queuing times on top. However, on a sunny day (or at night!) the views are truly stunning. If you’re lucky, you’ll not only see all the London sights including Big Ben, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and the Tower Bridge but all the way up to Windsor Castle too. So, if you are new to London and don’t mind spending some cash, go for it. Fun fact, the London Eye is also one of the top places in the UK for people on romantic getaways – and, in fact, to get engaged. They even offer special proposal packages with private pods and champagne.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: Technically, you can just show up and buy your ticket on-site, but booking online saves you time and money. There are also discounted combination tickets including a river cruise or entry to Madame Tussaud’s.</p> <p><strong>The Tate Modern</strong></p> <p>Museums rank high among the most popular attractions in London – and not just because you can visit them regardless of the weather. If you only have time for one, make it the Tate Modern, which is one of the most popular museums in the world. The massive art space with its iconic tower is housed in the former Bankside Power Station and sits right near the Thames, across from St Paul’s Cathedral.</p> <p>The exhibition spaces spread over seven floors and include original works by the likes of Picasso, Matisse and Warhol. Like most museums in London, the Tate Modern is free to visit, unless you want to see a special exhibition (book well in advance in that case). Should you be keen to see the Tate’s sister gallery Tate Britain as well, hop on the Tate Boat right in front of the building and travel door to door in style. Boats run every 20 to 30 minutes during museum open hours.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: Fancy turning your Tate Modern visit into a fun night out? Keep an eye on the monthly Tate Lates, a mix of art workshops and talks, DJs, bars and live music.</p> <p><strong>Buckingham Palace</strong></p> <p>Buckingham Palace has been the official residence of the British monarchs since 1837, and even though all the royal family currently live at other royal estates, it remains the place most associated with the crown. A highlight not to be missed is the Changing of the Guard, a traditional ceremony that sees one detachment of troops taking over from the other, marching along The Mall to Buckingham Palace with musical accompaniment (expect both traditional tunes and pop songs). It takes place on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and daily during the summer, at 11 AM. It’s one of the best free tourist attractions in London. For a prime spot, arrive at least one hour in advance, as the area gets packed year-round.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: The State Rooms inside Buckingham Palace are open to visitors on selected dates during winter and spring, as well as for 10 weeks in summer. Tour tickets sell out quickly, so check dates and book as early as you can.</p> <p><strong>The Tower Bridge</strong></p> <p>Walking across the Tower Bridge is a must-do when in London. But nothing beats watching the landmark lift for tall vessels, including cruise ships, to pass through. River traffic has priority on this stretch of the Thames by law, meaning ships can request a lift any time of the day, bringing the traffic on the bridge to a complete halt. On average, the Tower Bridge opens twice a day. But what’s the secret behind being at the right place at the right time? Luckily, it’s pretty simple, as you can check online to see when the bridge next lifts.  Then, make sure to arrive on time to watch the spectacle unfold.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: For a full view of the lift (and great photo opportunities), position yourself on the river banks or a bridge opposite Tower Bridge. For a more close-up experience, stand on either end of the bridge.</p> <p><strong>Portobello Road Market</strong></p> <p>In the 1990s, the movie Notting Hill, starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, made the West London neighbourhood of the same name known around the world as a romantic travel destination. But even if you’re not a fan of rom-coms, Notting Hill and its famous Portobello Road Market – considered the largest antique market on the planet – have a lot to offer. The stalls, fold-out tables and shops are packed with vintage treasures, from lamps and chairs to paintings, jewellery and second-hand clothing, which makes it a great place for souvenir hunting. The market is open six days a week, but Saturday is the main day when all the sellers, antique hunters and street food vendors are out.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: Notting Hill’s signature pastel houses are just as famous as the market, and selfies on the steps around the Hillgate Place and Lancaster Road area are high on many visitors’ bucket lists. Please keep in mind though that people actually live in these houses, so don’t stare into their windows or leave trash behind.</p> <p><strong>The West End</strong></p> <p>The West End is the heart of London’s commercial theatre and musical productions in the UK. More than 16 million people watched performances here in 2022, making tickets one of the hottest holiday gifts. Whether you’re into the classics such as Les Miserables (running since 1985) and The Phantom of the Opera (since 1986) or want to see a feel-good musical featuring songs by Tina Turner, ABBA or Queen, this is the place. The Disney musicals are among the most popular things to do in London with kids, but they’re just as fun to watch as an adult. For crime fans, Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap is a must-see.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: If you haven’t set your mind on a specific show, you can score excellent last-minute deals on the day using the TodayTix app (look for “rush tickets” at 10 a.m. sharp). I’ve found myself sitting in some of the best seats in the house for around $30, especially on weeknights. Ticket booths around Leicester Square also sell discounted tickets.</p> <p><strong>The Tower of London</strong></p> <p>No list of the best things to do in London would be complete without the Tower of London: an iconic castle, former prison and execution location – as well as the home of the crown jewels. The royals’ precious accessories have been stored here since 1661 and only leave the Tower when used on official occasions. Want to see King Charles’s and Queen Camilla’s crowns? They are right here!</p> <p>The Tower of London is more than 900 years old, and you can feel its history in every corner. Keep in mind that the complex is not only impressive but also huge, so plan at least a few hours to see everything. Besides its exhibitions, historic halls and the guards with their signature fur hats, the Tower is famous for its wild ravens. According to legend, the kingdom will fall if the six resident ravens ever decide to leave.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: Tickets to the Tower of London come with audio guides. If you’d rather have a human companion, opt for a tour with a Beefeater, a working guard at the fortress.</p> <p><strong>Borough Market</strong></p> <p>Dating back to the 13th century, Borough Market, on the south side of the Thames, is London’s oldest food market and a great food travel destination with more than 100 stalls and plenty of small restaurants and wine bars where you can enjoy lunch or dinner. While the market originally focused on British produce, you can now get Indian curries, pad Thai, Ethiopian stews, falafel wraps, pasta dishes and, of course, the obligatory fish and chips. There are also plenty of stalls to stock up on bread, veggies, wines and sweets to take home or have later in the day. The market is open Tuesday to Sunday.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: Borough Market is a lunch favourite with people working at the nearby offices, so expect long queues around noon. If you can’t find a quiet spot to eat, make yourself comfy at the riverbank a few minutes away by foot.</p> <p><strong>Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter</strong></p> <p>London is full of locations featured in the Harry Potter movies (think St. Paul’s Cathedral, Leadenhall Market, Borough Market or Tower Bridge), which you can explore on your own. But no place gets “muggles” (non-magic people) closer to Harry Potter’s world than the Warner Bros. Studio Tour just outside the city. Here you will walk through Diagon Alley, peek into Harry’s cupboard under the stairs and explore Hogwarts rooms such as the Great Hall or Dumbledore’s office. You can even sample butter beer! The studio decoration changes according to season. I have seen the summer and Christmas versions so far, and Halloween is next on my list.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: Advance booking is essential, even during shoulder seasons. Since muggles are, unfortunately, unable to arrive by broom, a shuttle bus from London’s Watford Junction is included in the ticket price.</p> <p><strong>Columbia Road Market</strong></p> <p>Columbia Road Flower Market may be London’s most popular place for flower shopping, and it’s a weekend institution in East London. Rain or shine, the whole street gets packed from 8am every Sunday with dozens of stalls that sell tulips, roses, cacti, spider plants and banana trees. Judging by Instagram posts and people with cameras around their necks, the market might look like a bit of a tourist trap at first glance. But the majority of the visitors are locals who stock up on flowers after coffee or brunch at one of the little cafes in the neighbourhood. The flowers are certainly the main selling point on a Sunday, but Columbia Road is dotted with little art shops and galleries too, so take your time to have a look around.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: Columbia Road Market tends to be busy year-round, but if you want to avoid the largest crowds, it pays to show up right when it starts. For the best flower deals, come after lunchtime. The stalls close at around 3pm.</p> <p><strong>Sky Garden</strong></p> <p>London’s highest public garden, Sky Garden, sits on the 35th floor of the “Walkie Talkie,” one of the city’s landmark skyscrapers, and it provides spectacular panoramic views. Sky Garden is an oasis of plants, with an observation deck, an open-air terrace and two restaurants. Entry is free, but advance booking is essential. However, once you’re in, you’re in, so you can technically spend a whole day among the plants.</p> <p>If you can’t get into Sky Garden (or want to shoot more skyline pictures from a different angle), head to The Garden at 120, an open-air rooftop garden on the 15th floor about a five-minute walk away. It might not be as fancy as Sky Garden, but it’s usually a lot quieter. I have had the whole garden to myself on weekday mornings more than once.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: Tickets for the Sky Garden are released every Monday, and you can book up to three weeks in advance. If you’re in the area but don’t have a ticket, it’s still worth trying your luck at the door, as they sometimes accept walk-ins.</p> <p><strong>Traditional afternoon tea</strong></p> <p>While Brits are the champions of tea drinking, afternoon tea is a lot more than just sipping on your favourite blend. The ritual dates back to the 19th century, when the ladies of the high society met for a light meal to shorten the time until dinner was served. Today, it’s mainly saved for special occasions, but it also makes one of the most fun things to do in London when on a city break. A traditional afternoon tea menu includes small sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam and a selection of pastries and cakes. Earl Grey, Darjeeling and English Breakfast are the classic tea blends. If you really want to treat yourself, book a table at the glamorous salon at Cafe Royal. Oscar Wilde, Winston Churchill, Princess Diana and David Bowie were regulars here. Live piano music and champagne are included too.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: Looking for a more casual afternoon tea option that doubles as a sightseeing tour? Hop on the Afternoon Tea Bus for a 90-minute ride.</p> <p><strong>Shakespeare's Globe Theatre </strong></p> <p>While the Globe Theatre on the South Bank of the Thames isn’t the original one from Shakespeare’s time (that one burned down in 1613), it’s still considered the writer’s London home and the closest you could ever get to the original experience. The venue was rebuilt in the same shape and layout, using the original type of wood (green oak) and building techniques. Watch world-famous plays such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth and The Comedy of Errors and fully immerse yourself in the world of Shakespeare.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: The cheapest way to see a play (or get into an otherwise sold-out show) is the “5£ Rush Tickets.” These are standing tickets right in front of the stage. While you might miss the comfort of a seat, you’ll be closer to the action than anyone else (and save a lot of money too!). Tickets are released every Friday at 11 am for the following week.</p> <p><strong>Little Venice</strong></p> <p>London is an amazing city to explore on foot, and once you’ve ticked off all the major sights, it’s time to enjoy one of the locals’ favourite walks. When I moved to London, I was amazed at how many locals lived on houseboats – it reminded me of The Netherlands, where I spent my college semester abroad. Regent’s Canal is dotted with colourful narrowboats, and you can often watch their owners navigate them to and from their mooring spots. The most beautiful stretch is from King’s Cross to Little Venice, a beautiful water canal area full of cafés and pubs and framed by willow trees. You will pass Camden and Regent’s Park along the way.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: Before you head on your two-hour walk, check out Coal Drop’s Yard right behind the King’s Cross station, with its restaurants, pubs and artsy shops, and Word on the Water, a floating bookstore.</p> <p><strong>Shoreditch</strong></p> <p>East London’s Shoreditch is one of the hippest districts in the city, with little cafes, quirky shops and bars on every corner. It’s also the heart of London’s street-art scene. Living in Shoreditch, I’m continuously amazed by all the murals and graffiti popping up overnight (and, sadly, often disappearing just as quickly). If you are like me and love taking edgy pictures, you will feel right at home. I always recommend Shoreditch Street Art Tours to friends visiting, a fun and comprehensive introduction to the local street-art scene. If you head out on your own, save Brick Lane, Fashion Street, Hanbury Street, Princelet Street, New Inn Yard, Redchurch Street and Shoreditch Highstreet Station on Google Maps.</p> <p>To kill two birds with one stone, visit Shoreditch on a weekend when Brick Lane market (lots of food and some art and clothes stalls) takes place. Truman Brewery on Brick Lane is also home to the biggest indoor vintage market in the U.K., which is open seven days a week.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: For a quick and inexpensive snack to go, head to Beigel Bake. The 24-hour shop is the most famous bagel place in London. Attention: They only take cash!</p> <p><strong>Kensington Gardens</strong></p> <p>One of London’s eight royal parks and formerly part of Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens is a popular recreational area where you can take a stroll, have a picnic, check out exhibitions at the Serpentine galleries, visit Kensington Palace or – if you’re traveling with kids – make the most of the Diana Memorial Playground (including a wooden pirate ship and sculptures inspired by Peter Pan).</p> <p>Ring-necked parakeets have spread all over London, but this park is your best bet to see them up close. And while nobody seems to be quite sure how they originally ended up in London, thousands have called it home since the 1990s. Here, the parakeets are so used to people they will land on your outstretched hands (or your shoulders or your head!) when you bring snacks (apples or seeds) – and sometimes even if you don’t. Be aware, though, that the cute birds have surprisingly sharp claws, so your arms might end up looking like you’ve just been scratched by an angry cat.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: The parakeets can be found near the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Garden. If you arrive by tube, get off at Lancaster Gate, walk past the lake and follow the squawking.</p> <p><strong>Barbican Conservatory </strong></p> <p>The Barbican Centre is London’s largest multi-arts venue. Movies, live gigs, plays, exhibitions, restaurants – you name it, the iconic complex has it all. One of the lesser known gems is their indoor garden on Level 3, which houses 2000 species of plants and trees as well as three small ponds. It’s a great place if you need a break from sightseeing or want to spend a relaxing hour or two hiding from the rain. Plus, it’s quite romantic – a friend of mine got engaged amidst the plants! Unfortunately, the whole Barbican complex tends to feel like a labyrinth with tons of confusing walkways. Schedule in some extra time just in case you get lost, and don’t sweat it, because it regularly happens to pretty much every Londoner.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: The Conservatory is only open on selected days. Entry is free, but book a time slot in advance to make sure you’ll get in. Tickets are released one week in advance on Fridays at 10 am, with a limited number of additional ones available at 9.30am on the day.</p> <p><strong>God's Own Junkyard</strong></p> <p>God’s Own Junkyard is a surreal exhibition place packed with blinking neon signs, old movie props, circus lighting and retro displays. It’s the private collection of the late owner Chris Bracey, who made signs for Soho’s strip clubs before he went on to work with some of our greatest directors, including Tim Burton (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Christopher Nolan (Batman) and Stanley Kubrick (Eyes Wide Shut).</p> <p>The gallery-turned-warehouse isn’t exactly close to the city centre, but it ranks high among the best things to do in London. Entry is free, however you might end up taking a neon sign home from their small shop. There’s also a cafe and fully licensed bar, if you want to linger for a bit.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: It might be tempting, but God’s Own Junkyard is, unfortunately, not the place to try out your latest camera gear. You are allowed to take pictures with your phone (for personal use and social media) but not with any cameras or professional equipment.</p> <p><strong>Cahoots Underground </strong></p> <p>If you like colourful cocktails and immersive experiences, make sure to check out some of London’s hidden bars. One of the coolest places I’ve been is the 1940s-inspired Cahoots Underground, located in a retired tube station around the corner from Soho’s Carnaby Street. The speakeasy bar is decorated with tube signs and maps, the cocktails (with names like “Winston Churchill” and “Judy Garland”) are listed in a newspaper instead of a regular menu, and the waiters are dressed up as ticket inspectors. What’s more, there’s a live piano player taking requests from guests (everything from Frank Sinatra to Miley Cyrus). Be prepared for spontaneous singalongs and people dancing between the tables.</p> <p>Other hidden bars worth checking out include Nightjar Shoreditch (old-school glamour, candlelit tables and live jazz and swing), Discount Suit Company (in a former suit tailor’s storeroom), Opium in Chinatown (a 1920s Shanghai-themed bar tucked away behind red curtains), Purl (1920s theme, live music and cocktail mixing classes) and Ladies &amp; Gents (in a former public washroom).</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: Better safe than sorry – all the above-mentioned bars are very popular, so book a table just in case.</p> <p><strong>Dennis Severs' House</strong></p> <p>If you’ve ever wondered what every day London life looked like in the 18th century, Dennis Severs’ House gives you a first-hand taste. The building was left exactly as when the original owners, a family of silk weavers, lived there. The rooms are lit by fire and candlelight, and visitors are encouraged to tour them in complete silence to “not disturb the family.” You will find yourself wandering around the living room full of faded photographs, old carpets, mugs and books. The kitchen has a fully laid table – bitten apples included! It almost feels like the family is about to return and go on with their daily routine any moment. To make the time-travel experience even more authentic, there are also added scents of food, woodsmoke and chatters of the occupants.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip:</em></span> Walk-up tickets are available, but unless you don’t mind standing in line for up to an hour or two, I’d recommend booking a time slot.</p> <p><strong>Camden</strong></p> <p>Talk to any Londoner and they’ll probably tell you that Camden is just not what it used to be. And I’m not going to lie, the North London neighbourhood has dramatically changed in recent years. Its edgy, alternative vibe is pretty much gone. Many of the charming parts of Camden Market were replaced by fancy stalls, food courts and colourful hanging umbrellas. However, Camden is still well worth a visit, you just need to do a bit more digging. Ignore the souvenir shops and look for the small creative sellers that have stood their ground. Then head to The Hawley Arms, my go-to Camden pub and a musician’s hangout. The late, great Amy Winehouse was a regular.</p> <p>Camden’s music scene is legendary, and many pubs have live gigs and open-mic nights. Some of the most iconic venues to check out for gigs include KOKO (frequented by supermodels such as Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss in their heydays), Electric Ballroom, Spiritual Records, Dingwalls and Jazz Cafe.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: The annual Camden Rocks Festival sees hundreds of gigs around Camden Town.</p> <p><strong>A pub for Sunday roast</strong></p> <p>Sunday roast is a British meal traditionally consisting of roasted meat of some sort (beef is the most common), mashed and roasted potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, carrots, seasonal greens, gravy and apple or mint sauce. It’s a big, hearty meal typically enjoyed early or late Sunday afternoon. Classic drinks to go with the foodie feast include local beers and ciders.</p> <p>Sunday roasts rank high among the top things to do in London, and luckily there are plenty of options all around the city. One of the most popular is Camberwell Arms, which features five options served for two people to share. Other good choices are the trendy Blacklock Shoreditch (located inside a former furniture factory) and Quality Chop House, which has fed hungry guests since 1869. If you’re a vegan, like me, or just curious about a meat-free option, head to The Spread Eagle, London’s first fully plant-based pub.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: All the above pubs (and many others around the city) are packed on Sunday, so booking is essential.</p> <p><strong>Royal Albert Hall</strong></p> <p>pened in 1871 by Queen Victoria (and dedicated to her husband Albert, hence the name), Royal Albert Hall is probably the world’s most famous concert hall. Its annual highlight is The Proms, an eight-week series of classical music organized by the BBC. But even if you’re not a fan of orchestra performances, the venue is worth a visit. It’s stunning inside and out and has the best acoustics you can find in the city.</p> <p>What’s more, the program is a lot more varied than you might expect. They also feature regular pop and rock gigs, and Eric Clapton, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, David Bowie and the Beatles have played here. You can also catch circus performances, movie nights, yoga sessions with live music and the occasional sumo wrestling event. If you go to a live gig, be prepared for the band to leave the stage mid-concert for a mandatory interval. When I saw Bryan Adams in 2022, he apologised for the break, then jokingly explained that even rock stars had to follow the Royal Albert Hall’s strict house rules.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: Many of the events at Royal Albert Hall are instant sell-outs, but it’s always worth checking at the box office or their website for last-minute tickets on the day of the event. If you’re interested in a peek behind the scenes, book a backstage tour.</p> <p><strong>Natural History Museum</strong></p> <p>The Natural History Museum in posh South Kensington is one of the best things to do in London with kids. It houses more than 80 million animals, plants and rocks spanning 4.5 billion years that are displayed in about 20 galleries. The main eye-catcher upon arrival is a 25.2-metre-long blue whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling. The female animal died in Ireland more than 120 years ago and was given a name when moved to its new home: Hope. Other highlights include dinosaurs, a giant gorilla, a Moon rock sample from the 1972 Apollo 16 mission, meteorites and an earthquake simulator. The Natural History Museum is free to visit except for special exhibitions.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: Watch out for museum events such as yoga and tai chi classes, silent disco nights or sleepovers for grown-ups.</p> <p><strong>Greenwich</strong></p> <p>Greenwich makes a fun day out of the city – without actually leaving the city. Located in the southeast of London, it’s home to an artsy market with lots of food stalls, a beautiful park perfect for taking London skyline pictures, the National Maritime Museum and the Cutty Sark, one of the oldest and best-known tea clipper ships in the world. There’s also the Prime Meridian at the Royal Observatory, where you can stand with one foot in the western hemisphere and the other foot in the eastern. Greenwich can be reached by tube, bus and train, but the most fun way is to take a boat from central London. Hop on board at Westminster Pier and see famous landmarks such as Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral and Tower Bridge from the water.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: While it’s possible to buy tickets for the boats from the ticket booths and machines at the pier, the easiest way is to just use your bank or credit card and tap in and out like you would at the bus or tube.</p> <p><strong>Highgate Cemetery </strong></p> <p>Walking around graves might not seem the most obvious choice for a fun day out in London, but Highgate Cemetery is worth making an exception. The Victorian cemetery looks a bit cramped and chaotic, but the sunken headstones, faded engravings and missing names on the tombs make it beautiful and charming at the same time. Highgate is the final resting place of no less than 170,000 people, including many celebrities. The one resident most visitors are looking for is German philosopher Karl Marx. His grave can be found in the east part of the cemetery and is easily recognisable by a giant sculpture of his head.</p> <p><em><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Pro tip</span></em>: To enter the cemetery, you need a ticket, which you can buy online or on site. If you want some background info (and to hear morbid anecdotes), you can also book a guided tour.</p> <p><strong>Hackney City Farm</strong></p> <p>Big cities and farms might not go together well at first glance, but London does have several working farms close to its busiest districts. One of the loveliest is Hackney City Farm in East London, which has pigs, donkeys, ponies, sheep, ducks, a vegetable garden, a small shop that sells homemade produce and a restaurant. The farm opened in 1984 and regularly welcomes local school kids. They also run workshops in animal handling and arts classes including pottery and woodworking.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: Visits are free, but donations are welcome. Don’t leave without a drink in their cute backyard garden.</p> <p><strong>Independent cinemas</strong></p> <p>While London’s big-chain movie theatres around Leicester Square all come with XXL screens and the latest technology, the independent ones are where the real magic happens. Just around the corner from Leicester Square towards China Town is Prince Charles Cinema, where both the latest blockbusters and classic movies are shown. They also have movie marathons – from Harry Potter to Terminator and Lord of the Rings – where fans gather for up to 24 hours to watch the whole series. They even encourage singalongs during music-movie marathons by projecting lyrics on the screen for a karaoke vibe.</p> <p>I am a regular at Genesis Cinema in East London, which has been showing movies since 1912 and comes with bar events such as open-mic and comedy nights on top. They also charge only £5 Monday to Thursday, which is less than a third of what you’d pay on Leicester Square. Other great places include Electric Cinema, which has leather armchairs and double beds in the front row; Lexi Cinema, a volunteer-run place supporting charities in South Africa); and Everyman Screen on the Green, where wine and pizza are served to your seat.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Pro tip</em></span>: London hosts tons of small and large film festivals throughout the year, so watch out for premieres, Q&amp;As and other special events.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/tips/the-30-best-places-to-explore-in-london-according-to-a-local?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

International Travel

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Major change ahead for Sunrise

<p dir="ltr">Sunrise has had a lot of readjusting to do in 2023, with their casting change in the wake of longtime host David Koch’s departure being just the beginning. </p> <p dir="ltr">And now, the show is faced with another new development, as Channel 7 looks to pack up its Martin Place residence to move to its new studio. </p> <p dir="ltr">Fans of the show will be familiar with the window backdrop that came with the CBD location, as it’s where the company has called home for almost two decades. But<em> Sunrise</em> is next up to make the move to 7’s new Eveleigh studio, with<em> 7 NEWS</em> anchor Mark Ferguson giving the final go ahead.</p> <p dir="ltr">Over the course of a month, Channel 7’s flagship morning shows will be following their nightly counterparts to the new location, with <em>Sunrise</em>, <em>Weekend Sunrise</em>, and <em>The Morning Show</em> next on the removalist’s to-do list.</p> <p dir="ltr">They won’t be alone in the new studio, with the likes of <em>7NEWS.com.au</em> and <em>7 NEWS Spotlight </em>already having parted ways with Martin Place. </p> <p dir="ltr">And according to Seven West Media Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer James Warburton, the change marks the first time in 40 years that the network’s Sydney operation will be “under one roof”, as they embark on “the beginning of a landmark chapter”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Martin Place has served as an exceptional home for us but as we aim to unite even more Australians across our much-loved news and public affairs content, our transition to the purpose-built, state-of-the-art studio space in south Eveleigh is a pivotal move,” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“<em>7 NEWS</em>’s relocation to south Eveleigh marks the start of this exciting phase and we look forward to Sunrise and The Morning Show joining our cutting-edge, new location soon.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Network Director of News and Public Affairs Craig McPherosn had his own words to share, noting that the move “marks a new beginning” for everyone involved.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Since first turning the lights on at Martin Place on August 30, 2004, Seven’s News and Public Affairs team has broadcast a mammoth 70,000 hours of television from the Martin Place studio,” he explained.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Hundreds of careers started there, as did programs. Not all lasted but the constant demand for the content never wavered. </p> <p dir="ltr">“It was a wonderful workplace for all of us, but it had served its time.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Sunrise / Channel 7</em></p>

TV

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Marine species are being pushed towards the poles. From dugong to octopuses, here are 8 marine species you might spot in new places

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/gretta-pecl-128477">Gretta Pecl</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/curtis-champion-1373045">Curtis Champion</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/southern-cross-university-1160">Southern Cross University</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/zoe-doubleday-393169">Zoe Doubleday</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p>If you take a plunge in the sea this winter, you might notice it’s warmer than you expect. And if you’re fishing off Sydney and catch a tropical coral trout, you might wonder what’s going on.</p> <p>The reason is simple: hotter water. The ocean has absorbed the vast majority of the extra heat trapped by carbon dioxide and other greenhouses gases. It’s no wonder heat in the oceans is building up rapidly – and this year is <a href="https://theconversation.com/ocean-heat-is-off-the-charts-heres-what-that-means-for-humans-and-ecosystems-around-the-world-207902">off the charts</a>.</p> <p>That’s even without the likely arrival of El Niño, where the Pacific Ocean gets warmer than usual and affects weather all over the world. Our coastal waters <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/oceanography/oceantemp/sst-outlook-map.shtml">are forecast</a> to be especially warm over the coming months, up to 2.5℃ warmer than usual in many places.</p> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533327/original/file-20230622-27-cqb9j1.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533327/original/file-20230622-27-cqb9j1.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=482&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533327/original/file-20230622-27-cqb9j1.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=482&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533327/original/file-20230622-27-cqb9j1.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=482&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533327/original/file-20230622-27-cqb9j1.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=605&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533327/original/file-20230622-27-cqb9j1.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=605&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533327/original/file-20230622-27-cqb9j1.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=605&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /><figcaption><span class="caption">Oceans around Australia are forecast to be much warmer than usual. SSTA stands for projected Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly, the difference between forecast ocean temperatures and a historical baseline period encompassing 1990–2012.</span> <span class="attribution">Bureau of Meteorology</span></figcaption></figure> <p>Many marine species live within a narrow temperature range. If the water heats up, they have to move, and if they don’t, they might die. So those that can move, are moving. In Australia, at least 200 marine species have <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/gcb.15634">shifted distributions</a> since 2003, with 87% heading south.</p> <p>This pattern is happening all around the world, both on land and <a href="https://theconversation.com/thousands-of-photos-captured-by-everyday-australians-reveal-the-secrets-of-our-marine-life-as-oceans-warm-189231">in the ocean</a>. This year, the warmer ocean temperatures during winter mean Australia’s seascapes are likely to be more like summer. So, the next time you go fishing or diving or beachcombing, keep your eyes peeled and your camera ready. You may glimpse the enormous disruption happening underwater for yourself.</p> <h2>Here are eight species on the move</h2> <p><strong>1. Moorish idol (<em>Zanclus cornutus</em>)</strong></p> <p>Historic range: northern Australia</p> <p>Now: This <a href="https://www.redmap.org.au/species/1/204/">striking fish</a> can now be seen south of Geraldton in Western Australia and Eden in New South Wales.</p> <p>This is a great fish for divers to spot on hard-bottomed habitats.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533373/original/file-20230622-21-6g6xk8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533373/original/file-20230622-21-6g6xk8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533373/original/file-20230622-21-6g6xk8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533373/original/file-20230622-21-6g6xk8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533373/original/file-20230622-21-6g6xk8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533373/original/file-20230622-21-6g6xk8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533373/original/file-20230622-21-6g6xk8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533373/original/file-20230622-21-6g6xk8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="moorish idol" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Moorish Idols are heading south to escape the heat.</span> <span class="attribution">Shutterstock</span></figcaption></figure> <p><strong>2. Branching coral (<em>Pocillopora aliciae</em>)</strong></p> <p>Historic range: northern NSW</p> <p>Now: Look out for this <a href="https://www.redmap.org.au/species/2/255">pale pink beauty</a> south of Port Stephens, not far from Sydney.</p> <p>Seemingly immovable species like coral are fleeing the heat too. They’re already providing habitat for a range of other shifting species like tropical fish and crab species.</p> <p><strong>3. Eastern rock lobster (<em>Sagmariasus verreauxi</em>)</strong></p> <p>Historic range: common in NSW</p> <p>Now: South, as far as <a href="https://www.redmap.org.au/species/2/167">it can get.</a> It’s now found in Tasmania and even in <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-the-marine-biological-association-of-the-united-kingdom/article/westward-range-expansion-of-the-eastern-rock-lobster-sagmariasus-verreauxi-in-australia/8DE945E58E1DDA1A2BB7431065AAC8EC">South Australia</a>.</p> <p>This tasty greenish crustacean <a href="https://www.int-res.com/abstracts/meps/v624/p1-11/">doesn’t like heat</a> and has moved south into the territory of red southern rock lobsters (<em>Jasus edwardsii</em>).</p> <p><strong>4. Gloomy octopus (<em>Octopus tetricus</em>)</strong></p> <p>Previous range: common in NSW</p> <p>Now: As far south as Tasmania.</p> <p>Look out for this slippery, smart invertebrate in <a href="https://www.redmap.org.au/species/2/127">Tasmanian waters</a> this winter. You might even spot the octopus nestled down with some eggs, as this looks to be a <a href="https://www.publish.csiro.au/mf/mf14126">permanent sea change</a>.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533376/original/file-20230622-17-lf2y8r.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533376/original/file-20230622-17-lf2y8r.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533376/original/file-20230622-17-lf2y8r.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=462&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533376/original/file-20230622-17-lf2y8r.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=462&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533376/original/file-20230622-17-lf2y8r.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=462&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533376/original/file-20230622-17-lf2y8r.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=581&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533376/original/file-20230622-17-lf2y8r.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=581&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533376/original/file-20230622-17-lf2y8r.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=581&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="gloomy octopus" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">The gloomy octopus is also known as the common Sydney octopus.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Niki Hubbard, Wikimedia</span>, <a class="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/">CC BY</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p><strong>5. Whitetip reef shark (<em>Triaenodon obesus</em>)</strong></p> <p>Previous range: northern Australia</p> <p>Now: <a href="https://www.redmap.org.au/species/3/185">South of K'gari</a> (formerly known as Fraser Island).</p> <p>Classed as vulnerable in parts of the world, this tropical shark is a slow swimmer and never sleeps. It poses very little danger to humans.</p> <p><strong>6. Dugongs (<em>Dugong dugon</em>)</strong> Previous range: northern Australia</p> <p>Now: As far south as Shark Bay in WA and <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-05-17/tweed-river-dugong-sighting-boaties-warned/102355438">Tweed River</a> in New South Wales.</p> <p>Our waters are home to the largest number of dugong in the world. But as waters warm, they’re heading south. That means more of us may see these elusive sea-cows as they graze on seagrass meadows.</p> <p>Some of the most adventurous have gone way out of their normal range – in 2014, a kitesurfer <a href="https://www.redmap.org.au/articles/2021/07/26/are-dugongs-hitching-a-ride-south/">reported</a> passing a dugong at City Beach, Perth. As a WA wildlife expert says, dugongs may occasionally stray further south of Shark Bay but “given the recent warming trend […] more dugong sightings might be expected in the future”</p> <p><strong>7. Red emperor (<em>Lutjanus sebae</em>) and other warm water game fish</strong></p> <p>Previous range: northern Australia</p> <p>Now: Appearing much further south – especially in WA.</p> <p>Look for <a href="https://www.redmap.org.au/species/1/108/">red</a>, threadfin, and redthroat emperors in southwest WA as the Leeuwin current carries these <a href="https://www.redmap.org.au/articles/2021/07/26/game-fish-follow-warm-route-south/">warm water species</a> south. As WA fisheries expert Gary Jackson has said, this current is a warming hotspot, acting like a warm water highway for certain marine species.</p> <p>These fish are highly <a href="https://goodfish.org.au/species/red-emperor/">sought after</a> by fishers.</p> <p><strong>8. Long-spined sea urchin (<em>Centrostephanus rodgersii</em>)</strong></p> <p>Historic range: NSW and Victoria</p> <p>Now: Tasmania</p> <p>Look out for these <a href="https://www.redmap.org.au/species/2/34/">spiky critters</a> in southern and western Tasmania. The larvae of these urchins have crossed the Bass Strait and found a new home, due to warming waters. Urchins are grazers and can scrape rocks clean, creating urchin barrens where nothing grows. That’s bad news for kelp forests and the species which depend on them. In response, Tasmanian authorities are working to create a <a href="https://fishing.tas.gov.au/community/long-spined-sea-urchin-management/long-spined-sea-urchin-strategy#:%7E:text=%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8BTackling%20the%20longspined%20sea%20urchin&amp;text=Unchecked%2C%20the%20urchin's%20presence%20is,at%20around%2020%20million%20individuals.">viable urchin fishery</a> to keep numbers down.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533379/original/file-20230622-33216-7lslyr.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533379/original/file-20230622-33216-7lslyr.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533379/original/file-20230622-33216-7lslyr.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533379/original/file-20230622-33216-7lslyr.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533379/original/file-20230622-33216-7lslyr.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533379/original/file-20230622-33216-7lslyr.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533379/original/file-20230622-33216-7lslyr.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533379/original/file-20230622-33216-7lslyr.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="long spined sea urchins" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Long-spiked sea urchins are voracious eaters of seaweed.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnwturnbull/32131133496/in/photostream/">John Turnbull/Flickr</a>, <a class="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/">CC BY</a></span></figcaption></figure> <h2>You can help keep watch</h2> <p>For years, fishers, snorkellers, spearfishers and the general public have contributed their unusual marine sightings to <a href="https://www.redmap.org.au/">Redmap</a>, the Australian citizen science project aimed at mapping range extensions of species.</p> <p>If you spot a creature that wouldn’t normally live in the waters near you, you can upload a photo to log your sighting.</p> <p>For example, avid spearfisher Derrick Cruz logged a <a href="https://www.redmap.org.au/sightings/1624/">startling discovery</a> with Redmap in 2015: A coral trout in Sydney’s waters. As he told us: “I’ve seen plenty of coral trout in tropical waters, where they’re at home within the coral. But it was surreal to see one swimming through a kelp forest in the local waters off Sydney, much further south than I’ve ever seen that species before!”</p> <p>How does tracking these movements help scientists? Many hands make light work. These vital observations from citizen scientists <a href="https://data-blog.gbif.org/post/gbif-citizen-science-data">have helped</a> researchers gain deeper understanding of what climate change is doing to the natural world in many places, from bird migrations to flowering plants to marine creatures.</p> <p>So, please keep an eye out this year. The heat is on in our oceans, and that can mean sudden change. <img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/207115/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/gretta-pecl-128477">Gretta Pecl</a>, Professor, ARC Future Fellow &amp; Director of the Centre for Marine Socioecology, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/curtis-champion-1373045">Curtis Champion</a>, Research Scientist, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/southern-cross-university-1160">Southern Cross University</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/zoe-doubleday-393169">Zoe Doubleday</a>, Marine Ecologist and ARC Future Fellow, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/marine-species-are-being-pushed-towards-the-poles-from-dugong-to-octopuses-here-are-8-marine-species-you-might-spot-in-new-places-207115">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

International Travel

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World’s worst places for pickpockets revealed

<p>When a bag containing my laptop and smartphone was stolen in London, it was something of a shock to me - but not to any locals.</p> <p>The bag, a simple library bag, was under the table in a Baker Street restaurant, comfortably at my feet, as there was nowhere else to leave it. The thieves, it seems, worked as a pair.</p> <p>One caused a distraction, even as I was engrossed in a conversation with friends. With all this happening, I certainly didn't notice his partner in crime snatching the bag from my feet. By the time I noticed, they had well and truly gone.</p> <p>As the restaurant was about to close, police offered to meet me at my accommodation. They finally arrived five hours later, at around 2am. After recent cutbacks, in which many stations have closed, the British police force is now spread very thin.</p> <p>Nonetheless, they took my report, and confessed that the problem was very common. "London's very lively," said one. "It's one of the cities in Europe most notorious for its thieves." The others, he suggested, were Rome, Barcelona and Prague.</p> <p>None of those have crime rates as bad as, say, Cape Town or Caracas - but while such places have high crime levels, they don't have especially high tourism levels.</p> <p>In most of the world, crime has decreased over the years. Throughout the US, for example, violent crime has fallen by 32 per cent since 1990 (and 64 per cent in the largest cities).</p> <p>But while violent crimes are down, you must guard against lesser (but still traumatising) crimes such as robbery.</p> <p>Among the cities adored by tourists, some are known for their distinctive crime scenes, among them:</p> <p><strong>1. Ho Chi Minh City</strong></p> <p><strong>The Motorised Bag-snatch:</strong> Two years ago, a colleague - travelling by motor-scooter on these scooter-heavy roads - had her purse snatched by a rider next to her, who immediately sped away. The next morning, our guide was calmly confident that he could retrieve her bag. He phoned the nearest police, and yes, it was at the station, complete with smartphone. "They just want the cash," he said. "They want nothing that can track them. Bags always end up at the station."</p> <p><strong>2. London</strong></p> <p><strong>The Sneak Attack:</strong> In Europe, it is often a more sophisticated operation, in which phones and laptops are flown abroad, erased and re-sold overnight. A day after my own bag was taken from the floor of a cheap restaurant, a woman told me that her handbag was once stolen from a chair at the Ritz - so nowhere is completely safe. However, the hot spots include Stratford (where the Olympic Village area remains busy) and the huge Westfield mall at Shepherd's Bush.</p> <p><strong>3. Rome</strong></p> <p><strong>The Pickpocket:</strong> Rome is infamous for its thieves, though an Italian friend thinks that it doesn't deserve such ill repute. "I can think of dozens of places in Italy that are far worse," he says, singling out Naples. Still, Italy's robbery rate is not as bad as, say, England or Wales. Robbery, however, involves physical confrontation - not pickpocketing, at which Roman thieves excel. Per capita, the world's worst crime nation is Vatican City, with 1.5 crimes per citizen - thanks to the thieves from across the border who congregate to relieve tourists of their wallets.</p> <p><strong>4. Prague</strong></p> <p><strong>The Conspirators:</strong> Prague is littered with signs saying "Beware of Pickpockets", car break-ins (don't leave your valuables on the seat), and gangs using clever diversions, including posses of sweet-faced schoolchildren. Tourist areas such as Wenceslas Square and Old Town Square are magnets for pickpockets.</p> <p><strong>5. Washington DC</strong></p> <p><strong>The Gangs:</strong> Among US cities, the Capital ranks 21st in violent crime. Its robbery incidents, however, are among the nation's worst, especially in the south-east of the city. For the record, San Francisco ranks 80th, and New York City is 96th.</p> <p>Of course, as you would have read, those cities are all worth visiting. When you are there (or anywhere else), it is worth taking a few precautions:</p> <ul> <li>Dress like a local, not like a tourist.</li> <li>Take out travel insurance. You probably won't use it, but take it anyway.</li> <li>A money belt might be a nuisance, but it is the safest place for your valuables. Don't pull out your wallet in public. If you must take a handbag, hold it close.</li> <li>Be especially careful on crowded trains, buses and subways.</li> <li>Make sure you take down your phone's IMEI number (as printed on the original packaging) and your computer's serial number. Police might be ineffectual, but it should still be reported.</li> <li>In some countries (e.g. France, the Czech Republic), visitors are required to carry their passport at all times. In such places, a photocopy of the passport, kept in your hotel, will make it easier to replace.</li> </ul> <p><em>Written by Mark Juddery. First appeared on <a href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Stuff.co.nz</span></strong></a>.</em></p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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8 fictional places you can visit in real life

<p>Step into the world of your favourite book, movie or TV show with a visit to these fictional locations that represented the original.</p> <p><strong>Hogwarts, <em>Harry Potter</em></strong></p> <p>You won’t see anyone playing Quidditch on the lawns, but Alnwick Castle in Northumberland in the UK played Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films (with a little digital trickery thrown in). The castle has been the home of the Dukes of Northumberland for more than 700 years and is in high demand with film and TV crews – it also stars in the <em>Downton Abbey </em>Christmas specials.</p> <p><em><strong>Jurassic Park</strong></em></p> <p>The lush jungle foliage and towering waterfalls of the island of Kauai in Hawaii served as the backdrop for Stephen Spielberg’s rampaging dinosaurs in all three <em>Jurassic Park</em> movies. You can rent a four-wheel drive and travel through the national park where the movie was filmed though, sadly, none of the dinosaurs remained behind after shooting wrapped.</p> <p><strong>West Egg, <em>The Great Gatsby</em></strong></p> <p>F Scott Fitzgerald modelled West Egg on Great Neck in Long Island, New York. This area on the north coast of Long Island was known as the Gold Coast because of the huge mansions, polo fields, golf courses and country clubs built there by America’s super wealthy (think Vanderbilt, Astor or Guggenheim). The very grand Oheka Castle in nearby Huntington partly inspired Gatsby’s house.</p> <p><strong>Amity Island, <em>Jaws</em></strong></p> <p>Don’t go in the water! The beach on Amity Island was the setting for the first scene in the classic 1970s horror movie, <em>Jaws</em>. As well as looking the part of the perfect American seaside resort, the shallow water of the bay made it easier for the crew to operate the mechanical sharks.</p> <p><strong>Hundred Acre Wood, <em>Winnie the Pooh</em></strong></p> <p>Just over an hour from London you can walk in the footsteps of Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin through Ashdown Forest. There’s only about 25 square kilometres of wooded area left from what was once a mighty forest, but it is still quintessentially English and one could almost expect Pooh, Tigger and Piglet to come bounding around a shady corner.</p> <p><strong>Greenbow, <em>Forrest Gump</em></strong></p> <p>Life is like a box of chocolates in Varnville, South Carolina, which served as the fictional town of Greenbow in the Oscar winning movie <em>Forrest Gump</em>. The old Southern mansion that Forrest and his mamma lived in was a fake however, built just for production (and torn down right after), and even some of the Vietnam War scenes were shot around Varnville. Thank goodness for special effects.</p> <p><strong>King’s Landing, <em>Game of Thrones</em></strong></p> <p>The historic Maltese capital of Mdina played the part of Kings Landing in the first series of <em>Game of Thrones</em>. The medieval walled city is in the centre of the island and has a population of just 300 – many of whom weren’t happy about the series. Maltese officials complained about the damage done and filming moved to Croatia for the following series.</p> <p><strong>Hobbiton, <em>The Lord of the Rings</em></strong></p> <p>The three Lord of the Rings movies were such a smash hit that the village of Hobbiton was completely rebuilt in the original film location near Matamata in the North Island of New Zealand. You can step inside the tiny hobbit holes, visit the Green Dragon Inn and (of course) buy a souvenir at the gift shop.</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

International Travel

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8 best places to go on holiday that zap stress (even after you get home), according to experts

<p><strong>Health benefits of holidaying </strong></p> <p>aking regular holidays offers a wealth of physical and mental health benefits – in fact, research says getting enough holiday time may help you live longer.</p> <p>Psychologist Dr Carla Manly, author of <em>Joy from Fear</em>, says just the process of planning a holiday brings an immediate sense of wellbeing. “Having something wonderful to anticipate gives the mind and spirit a surge of happiness,” Dr Manly says. “Particularly when issues such as burnout cause additional stress and anxiety, having upcoming travel adventures to look forward to can make all the difference in mental health and overall wellbeing.”</p> <p>But when your heart is set on seriously escaping the demands of work and life, research suggests there are a handful of best places to go on holiday that will rejuvenate you the most. Science, local lore, and a bit of esoteric legend suggest some destinations go the extra mile when it comes to soothing our bodies, relieving stress, and delivering a holiday experience that really does the job.</p> <p>Where are the world’s greatest places to go on holiday to relieve stress? Here are eight destinations that are said to maximally inspire awe and renewal (and that may inspire you to start searching for flights immediately).</p> <p><strong>Okinawa, Japan</strong></p> <p>Shinrin-yoku, which has become known as “forest bathing,” is a form of ecotherapy developed in the 1980s by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. The idea of forest bathing is that spending time in nature awakens the senses to promote physical and mental health benefits. A wealth of research supports these claims.</p> <p>A review of studies published in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine found that forest bathing improves heart health, endocrine system function, metabolism, immunity, and inflammation levels, as well as psychological and emotional health.</p> <p>There are dozens of certified Shinrin-yoku forests throughout Japan (and really, you can practise forest bathing in any natural surroundings). But what makes Okinawa special is that it’s one of the world’s five Blue Zones, the geographical areas where data consistently show the residents live the longest lives. Researchers have found common traits among people living in Blue Zones, such as prioritising stress relief, engaging in regular movement, following a balanced diet, and having strong social bonds.</p> <p>Yanburu is a particularly popular spot for forest-bathing stress away. Located in the north of Okinawa, Yanburu is a subtropical rainforest with incredible biodiversity.</p> <p><strong>Grindavik, Iceland</strong></p> <p>With its towering waterfalls, vast glaciers, and dramatic landscapes, Iceland has been one of the world’s most up-and-coming travel destinations of this century. In fact, a March 2023 analysis of Google search volume named it the most popular destination for solo female travellers in 2023. But before you make a beeline for the capital city, Reykjavik, consider stopping in the less-travelled town of Grindavik.</p> <p>Grindavik is a sleepy former fishing village just 20 minutes from the airport and offers easy access to many of Iceland’s top sites. Most notably, it’s home to the Blue Lagoon, a natural geothermal spa with a unique composition of minerals and algae not found anywhere else on Earth. Research in 2022 in the peer-reviewed medical journal, Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, stated that the Blue Lagoon’s waters are known to improve skin health for some of the most stubborn psoriasis cases.</p> <p>The Blue Lagoon’s consistency also allows you to float weightlessly. Peer-reviewed findings in the Natural Medicine Journal in 2021 concluded that flotation therapy stimulates a “robust relaxation response,” supporting stress reduction, energy levels, and general wellbeing. The review’s authors stated that their research “revealed benefits of floating, specifically regarding participants experiencing muscular pain, depression, anxiety, stress, and sleep disorders.”</p> <p><strong>Helsinki, Finland</strong></p> <p>According to Gallup’s March 2023 world happiness report, Finland has claimed the top spot since 2017 – and Travel &amp; Leisure Asia has named Finland’s capital, Helsinki, among the globe’s “least stressed” cities. Researchers suggest that this sense of wellbeing among Finns comes down to the culture’s gravitation towards nature and a slow living lifestyle – an experience wellness-seekers must see for themselves.</p> <p>Around 75% of Finland is covered by forests, and there are almost 200,000 lakes. Research has shown the country’s high accessibility to varied, multi-sensory natural environments leads to a range of wellbeing benefits.</p> <p>For instance, a 2023 study led by researchers from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare even found that Helsinki’s abundant green and blue spaces reduced people’s use of medications for depression and anxiety, blood pressure, and asthma.</p> <p><strong>Bali, Indonesia</strong></p> <p>An island of sandy coastline, jungles, volcanoes, and waterfalls, Bali is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, with ecotherapy opportunities around every corner. A 2022 psychiatry and public health study found that tropical holidays in particular support mental health. Some believe that it’s no coincidence that Bali leaves visitors with a particularly high sense of wellbeing.</p> <p>The theory of Ley lines asserts that major historic and sacred landmarks – such as Stonehenge, the Pyramids, and ancient burial grounds – are connected by an “energy grid.” Bali falls at the intersection of two lines on this conceptual map, which believers say creates a powerful healing energy. Science has found no evidence to support the theory of Ley lines, but an analysis of research published in Humanities suggests that the concept itself – whether true or not – gives rise to valuable opportunities to connect with our surroundings physically and spiritually.</p> <p><strong>Las Catalinas, Costa Rica</strong></p> <p>A 2013 study found that people are at their happiest near the ocean – and numerous studies since have supported the link between “blue views” and wellbeing.</p> <p>While any coastline seems like an invitation to de-stress, the small oceanside town of Las Catalinas shores up wellness in unique ways. Las Catalinas is entirely car-free – you get around on foot or by bike – which encourages a slower pace of life, more time in nature, and a stronger sense of local community.</p> <p>Las Catalinas is also a great jumping-off point to explore the Nicoya Peninsula, another of the world’s five Blue Zones (where residents are twice as likely than Americans to live to age 100!).</p> <p><strong>Sedona, Arizona</strong></p> <p>With its sandstone cliffs, year-round blue skies, and unique red-green landscapes, Sedona is a revered destination for anyone looking to get back to nature. It’s also one of only 36 certified Dark Sky communities in the world, offering magical Milky Way stargazing opportunities. Research has shown that light pollution is associated with increases in stress, mood disorders, and physical health issues – while dark skies promote relaxation and ultra-healthy sleep.</p> <p>Sedona, like Bali, lies at the intersection of Ley lines, which contributes in part to the town’s deep spiritual history. Native American tribes considered the area sacred, amplified by a serene, healing energy that can intensify your connection with nature and promote greater self-awareness.</p> <p>Today, people continue to believe there are four “energy vortex” locations with energy so strong it twists the desert flora. While juniper trees, like those in Arizona, are known to get kinks in their trunk, Sedona’s harmony-seeking pilgrims will say not to knock the area’s peaceful vibe until you experience it.</p> <p><strong>Exuma, Bahamas</strong></p> <p>Exuma is a collection of more than 360 islands known for having some of the clearest, sapphire-blue ocean water in the world. You could spend days island-hopping, swapping out stress for blue views – or jump right in for even greater wellbeing. Psychiatry research in 2022 showed that the weightlessness and pressure we experience in the water have a calming effect on the mind.</p> <p>In fact, humans have what’s called a mammalian dive reflex, a physiological response that occurs when our face is submerged in water. This reflex slows our heart rate and soothes our nervous system, with studies showing that activating it is effective in relieving feelings of stress, anxiety, and panic. (Plus, Exuma is home to the famous Pig Beach – and a little time with animals goes a long way in reducing stress, according to studies.)</p> <p><strong>Southern Ibiza, Spain</strong></p> <p>Dancing the night away in Ibiza’s legendary music scene can certainly zap your daily stresses in a special way…but if you’re looking for tranquillity, turn to the south.</p> <p>On the Southwest coast of Ibiza, rising from the sea you’ll find the mythical limestone rock called Es Vedrà, which legend says is the tip of the lost city of Atlantis. Es Vedrà is thought to be one of the most magnetic spots on Earth. This is said to confuse compasses and even birds, but some believe the location creates an energetic, healing atmosphere.</p> <p>To the Southeast lies Las Salinas, a UNESCO World Heritage site with unique biodiversity. This salt lagoon makes for particularly floaty, salty seawater believed to promote skin health, circulation, and stress relief. The area is also home to the cotton candy pink Lake Torrevieja (and its flocks of pink flamingos). Lake Torrevieja is a mineral-rich body of water thought to have healing powers.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/8-best-places-to-go-on-holiday-that-zap-stress-even-after-you-get-home-according-to-experts" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

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Make your bedroom a place you’ll never want to leave

<p dir="ltr">Not all of us can pop into a local homeware store and score a $1,000 bed spread, but there are some little changes you can make to create the look of a super luxe bedroom.</p> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation"><strong>1. Pillows, pillows, pillows!</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Plump, over-stuffed pillows are what you see at fancy hotels, so bring the same look home.</p> <p dir="ltr">Overstuff your decorative throw cushions to give them a more sophisticated look. Pile on more pillows with a colour scheme of your choice and transform your bed.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2. Make a blanket statement</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Luxury bedding isn’t attainable for all, so focus on a throw blanket instead. Choose a nice colour, one that suits your pillows and other decor and drape it off the end of your bed. It will take the focus off your duvet.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3. Style your bed side table</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Don’t let it evolve into a junk drawer! Empty your dining classes and clear things like hand creams and loose papers. To make the room more glamorous, get a new lamp, add in a plant and think about hanging something small in the empty wall space above the table.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>4. Upgrade your mirror</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Try an antique-inspired brass mirror or one with an interesting shape to draw attention to it. There are also mirrors with a shelf attached, so you’ll gain a little vertical storage where you can place candles, indoor plants or whatever decor you fancy. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p>

Home Hints & Tips

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The world’s most magical places to swim

<h2>Red Beach, Santorini, Greece</h2> <p>A crescent-shaped island in the middle of the Aegean Sea, Santorini was once a massive volcano – archaeologists say it blew its top way back in the Bronze Age. It left behind a fascinating place where whitewashed buildings cling to the edge of towering sea cliffs, and beaches come in many colours, including black, brown, white and even red. At Red Beach, iron-rich sands – and the cliffs that hem them in – have taken a curious and beautiful rust-coloured hue, which forms a stark contrast when they intersect with the beach’s deep blue waters.</p> <h2>Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Islands, Queensland, Australia</h2> <p>While the pristine, azure waters of Whitehaven beach on North-East Queensland’s Whitsunday coast are superlative-worthy in themselves, it’s the sand that really makes it unforgettable. Soft and blindingly white, it is made of almost 98 per cent silica – a mysterious geographical phenomenon that scientists can’t explain – but that you simply have to experience burying your toes into. While the waters are divine to swim in year round, it’s worth remembering that stinger season is from October to May, when warmer waters attract larger numbers of Box and Irukandji jellyfish – a stinger suit is recommended for extra protection.</p> <h2>Blue Lagoon, Fiji</h2> <p>In many ways, Fiji – a cluster of 330 islands in the South Pacific – is the ultimate paradise, an almost mystical place where the palms seem taller, the water always feels bathtub warm, and coral reefs extend themselves and their aquatic bounty before snorkellers from all over the world. While pretty much any spot in Fiji would do for a dip, one of the most beautiful places you can swim is the remote Blue Lagoon. Part of the Yasawa Islands, Blue Lagoon is a spot where the water seems bluer, the often empty beaches appear whiter, and the aquatic wonders, from starfish to seahorses to sharks, are truly mind-boggling.</p> <h2>Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil</h2> <p>One of the world’s best places to swim (and be seen swimming), this curving beach is a major draw for visitors to Rio. While it’s perhaps most famous for the skimpy bikinis (and, yes, Speedos) that can always be found here on a sunny day, this it truly is a great place for a dip in the South Atlantic. Afterward, dry off with a game of foot volley, a form of beach volleyball unique to Rio and its cariocas.</p> <h2>Panama City Beach, Florida, USA</h2> <p>While much of the good press goes to the sun spots further south on the peninsula (think Miami, Tampa and Key West), Florida’s very best beach is up on the panhandle. With sugary white sand (composed of quartz, not the grainier, brown silica found in most of the state), Panama City Beach sits at the heart of the Emerald Coast, a stretch of very clear, very warm, very emerald Gulf of Mexico water. Walk the beach, then spend the evening at Pier Park, a remarkable shopping complex that’s steps from the sea and keeps up the beach theme.</p> <h2>The Amazon River, South America</h2> <p>Contrary to popular belief, the warm, brown, slow-moving waters of the Amazon are actually safe for swimming – if you know what you’re doing. Yes, you will be sharing the river with caimans (a kind of crocodile), piranhas and the bizarre-looking pink freshwater river dolphins (called boto) that are found only here, but an experienced guide can tell you where, and when, it’s safe to dive in. You may even get a visit from a boto – a favourite excursion takes swimmers out to a mid-river sandbar, where you wait for the arrival of this mysterious, playful animal.</p> <h2>Ha Long Bay, Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam</h2> <p>Southeast Asia definitely has a wealth of beautiful swimming spots and this one also happens to be a UNESCO world heritage site – and its easy to see why. With its stunning limestone islands jutting out of the water crystal-clear water the temperature of bath water, bathing doesn’t come with much more of a stunning view than this. From small, peaceful Titop Beach to the vast Ngoc Vung beach, you’ll be assured of a blissful experience wherever you go.</p> <h2>Manly Beach, Sydney, NSW, Australia</h2> <p>Reachable via what has to be the world’s most breathtaking ferry ride – the boat directly passes the city’s world-famous opera house and provides on-the-water views of the towering Sydney Harbour Bridge – Manly is everything a beach should be: soft sand, lovely water, and people-watching a-plenty. If calm waters are more your thing, bypass Manly’s main beach to nearby Shelly Beach, a protected marine reserve with clear, shallow waters featuring a large variety of marine life, ideal for scuba divers and snorkellers for its large variety of marine life. Post-swim, take the winding track up the headland for a scenic view of North Head and neighbouring beaches, or wander through the shops and eateries of the Corso, a pedestrian mall.</p> <h2>Cartagena, Colombia, South America</h2> <p>This beautiful, historic city – think horse-drawn carriages, cobblestone lanes and squares bordered by aging church clock towers – sits at the heart of a Caribbean playground. Just beyond its own sun-kissed beaches lie the 27 Rosario Islands (above), reachable by a short boat ride, which are filled with palms and fringed by aquamarine waters. Spend your day on the beach, then dance the night away in the city’s amazing array of salsa clubs.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/the-worlds-most-magical-places-to-swim" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>.</em></p>

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Devastating leaked email places Jenny Craig on brink of collapse

<p dir="ltr">Weight loss firm Jenny Craig is reportedly closing its doors after four decades leading the industry. </p> <p dir="ltr">According to leaked staff communications, <em>NBC News</em> have shared that the company’s corporate and salaried field employees will face their final day of work on May 5, while their hourly staff will experience theirs on May 9. In the email, Jenny Craig explained that this was occurring “due to its inability to secure additional financing”. </p> <p dir="ltr">Employees were informed, however, that they would be receiving a “final pay cheque, including your full compensation earned through your last day of work and all accrued, unused paid time off”. </p> <p dir="ltr">Rumours have circled the company for some time, with <em>Bloomberg</em> reporting in just April 2023 that they were on the hunt for a buyer. The publication claimed that a source told them the company was “considering a bankruptcy filing” if their efforts to secure a buyer failed.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Bloomberg </em>also shared the news that the company was in around $250,000 USD in debt (~$376,000 AUD/NZD).</p> <p dir="ltr">Around the same time, corporate staff at the company’s California office received notice that they would be closing June 24, but that that day may actually be as soon as the next Friday. An FAQ was also released to them, alongside an explanation that they would be decreasing their physical operations to make way for their more e-commerce focussed business model. </p> <p dir="ltr">As a spokesperson told <em>NBC News</em> in the wake of the reports of potential layoffs, the company was “embarking on the next phase of our business to evolve with the changing landscape of today’s consumers. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Like many other companies, we’re currently transitioning from a brick-and-mortar retail business to a customer-friendly, e-commerce driven model. We will have more details to share in the coming weeks as our plans are solidified.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Despite this assurance, even coupled with the latest communications, it remains unclear whether or not that transition will still be taking place, with employees left in a state of limbo. </p> <p dir="ltr">The industry supergiant currently employs over 1,000 members of staff, with approximately 500 stores - both company-owned and franchised - across just the United States and Canada, with a further 600 around the rest of the world, including Australia. </p> <p dir="ltr">The company was actually founded in Melbourne in 1983, by husband and wife Jenny and Sidney Craig. The American couple went on to take their venture back to the states, but not until two years later in 1985. </p> <p dir="ltr">And while the situation looks dire overseas, an employee did tell Bloomberg that franchise-owned locations “may remain open”, though this is yet to be confirmed.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

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Ed Sheeran, Russell Crowe, and Snoop Dogg: "Australia is the place to be!"

<p>Snoop Dogg has thrown an unexpected gathering for the rich and famous while celebrating backstage on the Melbourne leg of his Australian tour. </p> <p>The 51-year-old rapper took to Instagram to immortalise the moment, and to offer his fans a glimpse at what really went on when the show left the stage at Rod Laver Arena. </p> <p>Snoop’s picture sees him sat in front of a table, drink in hand, with a famous face on either side of him - English singer songwriter Ed Sheeran, who is also touring Australia, and actor Russell Crowe. Snoop gave the latter guest a nod with his caption, asking his fans “R U NOT ENTERTAINED?!?” </p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CpYPWD2yfon/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CpYPWD2yfon/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by snoopdogg (@snoopdogg)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>While a gift bag obscured most of what was on the table between them, many eagle-eyed fans were quick to note the various spirit bottles and rolled cigarettes, but for most, the delight at seeing the trio together was all that mattered. </p> <p>“There is so much perfection in this photo,” gushed one fan, “this is a trio we didn’t know we needed!” </p> <p>“UK, US and New Zealand in the same room!” wrote another. </p> <p>“I wanna become famous so I can be in a room where I turn my head and see Snoop Dogg, Ed Sheeran and Russel Crowe sitting on the same couch,” mused one, “seems like it would be an interesting place to be.”</p> <p>As well as the post to his feed, Snoop shared two videos of the gathering to his stories, in which he can be seen ‘welcoming’ Sheeran to his label, Death Row, and fastening a gold chain around the singer’s neck. Sheeran is sporting the very same necklace in Snoop’s photo. </p> <p>Sheeran later took to Instagram himself to share a photo with the rapper, assuring fans he’d “had a very good time at the party”. </p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CpZ-UwwB5yM/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CpZ-UwwB5yM/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Ed Sheeran (@teddysphotos)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>And while some fans were thoroughly entertained with the sight and state of the two partygoers, others had a new business venture in mind for the pair, following on from Sheeran’s ‘welcome’ to the label. </p> <p>“It’s impossible not to have a good time when your hanging with Snoop,” one declared, before requesting a “new collab for the people please”.</p> <p>“Ed we need this collab,” came the agreement of one dedicated fan account. </p> <p>“This collab would be legendary,” agreed another. </p> <p>And, as one fan summed it up for everyone, “Australia is the place to be atm [at the moment]!”</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

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