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South Africa’s call of the wild

<p>Three giraffes are outlined against a blue sky, pink tongues unfurling around the leaves of an acacia tree. Two cheetahs prowl as the sun sets, and hippos wallow. Every day on safari in South Africa brings something new: wildebeest moving through a dry riverbed, or a leopard slinking through golden grass that crackles in the sun. Back in my luxury lodge, I soak off the dust in an infinity pool and gaze over antelope-dotted plains. As dusk stains the sky red, I hear the quintessential sound of Africa: the roar of a lion satisfied with its kill.</p> <p>I’ve had many South African safari experiences, all different but equally thrilling. At Karkloof Safari Spa near Pietermartizburg, owner Fred Wörner has realised a mad dream to combine wild animals with first-class wellness treatments. (And why not: he made a motser selling wheelie bins to Australian councils, and can now do what he wants.) Now he sits like a James Bond villain – though a rather likeable one – drinking brandy in a throne-like chair decorated with kudu horns, ordering pan-seared ostrich and – on occasion, when tourists aren’t looking – shooting the odd warthog for the pot.</p> <p>In Great St Lucia Wetland on the coast east of Durban, I stayed at unpretentious Makakatana Bay Lodge where the waitress was called Promise, the chef Rejoice, and the vibe was more laidback than at upmarket game reserves. It provides a sampling of raw African nature, where wildlife isn’t yet accustomed to tourist-filled safari vehicles, and zebra and buffalo remain skittish and unpredictable. In the evenings, hippos snort in the dark as I tuck into Rejoice’s simple but delicious food. Lanterns swing in the trees and cicadas hum.</p> <p>Not so far away, Phinda Private Game Reserve has the most varied habitats of any South African safari lodge. I paddle the river to spot crocodile and hippos that yawn to reveal cavernous pink mouths. I see turtles on the beach, and then pluck up the courage to tackle a specialist white-rhino safari with a tracker and armed ranger. After picking up the trail, we descend from the vehicle and follow the rhino on foot through rustling grasses in an unnerving but utterly exhilarating wildlife experience.</p> <p>I’m also fortunate to visit Kwandwe Private Game Reserve northeast of Port Elizabeth. On my first morning’s safari we come across a lion lurking in a thicket, but some of the smaller animals are lovely too: malachite sunbirds sipping nectar in a flurry of emerald-coloured wings; blue cranes strutting through the grass. At day’s end, guests gather with whiskeys to sit around the dining-lodge fire and swap improbable stories of the day’s adventures. Nobody has spied a shy leopard, but we’ve spotted giraffe, eland, springbok and rhino. On a night safari we track down those elusive beasts that haunt the first page of our dictionaries, the aardvark and aardwolf.</p> <p>For a particularly memorably splurge, on one visit to South Africa I take to an aircraft to view the landscape and its creatures from above. It’s like living a celluloid dream. Remember the 1985 movie Out of Africa, and the scenes in which Robert Redford takes Meryl Streep on a joyride in his aircraft, high above a marvellous landscape of flamingo-haunted lakes and rustling grasslands? That’s what comes to mind as I swoop between the vast cotton balls of African clouds, muddy rivers oozing below. Animals look odd from above: humped elephant backs and shifting patterns of zebra and dainty impala.</p> <p>Flying is a different way to see things, but you can’t beat being on the ground and down among the wildlife. At Ulusaba, owned by Sir Richard Branson, I sit on my lodge deck and gazed over Sabi Sand Reserve’s undulating landscape of grass and low trees, pockmarked with waterholes and the odd rocky outcrop. Elephant and rhino occasionally wander about the lodges, and windows have to be latched against baboons.</p> <p>As dawn breaks, we clamber into open Jeeps and head through the bush. The tracker’s radio hisses with a message that there are lions nearby. Then they emerge from the grasses: a shaggy-maned male and three females, parading down the dusty track as if showing off. Over the next two days, we watch a file of stately giraffes blink their long eyelashes, and spot another leopard, one of the most elusive of African animals. Red-billed oxpeckers pluck ticks off the backs of lumbering animals. One hops right into a rhino’s enormous ear, looking for a treat.</p> <p>Later, sunset flares in a magnificent display of crimson and gold. From the lodge deck, the display of stars is so extravagant I wonder whether I’m hallucinating. Vivid blue lizards scamper over the still-hot rocks as guests exchange stories of the day’s adventures. Out of the night an elephant trumpets: the end of another excellent day on safari in South Africa.</p> <p><em>Written by Brian Johntson. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/south-africa-s-call-of-the-wild/">MyDiscoveries.</a> </em></p>

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The wild wonders of Rio

<p>It’s languid, sexy and steamy, and everything seems to move with a casual Samba swing until it comes to football (soccer). Then all eyes are on the ball. I’m talking of Rio, where, according to Barry Manilow, “music and passion were always the fashion.” Rio remains the very essence of Brazil, with the warmth of its people and the simple joys of endless sunshine, music, samba and lots of ice-cold beer and caipirinhas at its core.</p> <p>Rio is the first and obligatory stop in Brazil. The capital until 1960, it’s otherwise known as ‘The Marvellous City’ (Cicada Maravilhosa) for many good reasons, but mostly because of its location between lush green mountains and blue ocean.</p> <p>I want to check out Rio’s famous beaches; in particular that long white stretch of sand made famous by another song: ‘I go to Rio’. Copacabana, Rio’s most popular beach, is a gently curving four-kilometre-long arc, lined with white high-rise buildings and a shopping and partying strip that goes off day and night: like Bondi Beach only bigger, brasher and more frenetic.</p> <p>The beach is lined with tourists sun-tanning on beach chairs, exercise stations and rows of volleyball nets. Here the locals – known as Cariocans – play foot volley and volleyball on the sand. Oiled muscle men in tight briefs mix with girls in tiny, tiny bikini thongs. Brazilians like to let it all hang out.</p> <p>We cool down with a drink. Yes, you can even drink on the beach in Brazil, at any time of day. Beach bars and kiosks sell a range of local beers such as icy cold Skol on tap and, of course, caipirinhas, the national cocktail of Brazil made from sugar and lime mixed with the local sugar cane rum. There’s also coconuts to drink from, acai and guarana.</p> <p>One of the best places to drink caipirinhas is at the famous Hotel Copacabana Hotel from the song ‘At the Copa, Copacabana’. Or at the pool bar atop the Porto Bay Rio Hotel, overlooking the large white stretch of Copacabana beach.</p> <p>But Copa is not Rio’s only beach. Ipanema, made famous by yet another song: ‘The Girl from Ipanema’, is a slightly more stylish affair, lined with trendy boutiques. Barre, further out still, is quieter and more like Miami. It was also the location of most of the arenas and the athlete’s village at the Rio 2016 Olympics.</p> <p>Soccer fans will want to check out the giant Maracana Football Stadium, and another must see is the Sambadromo, where Rio’s annual Carnevale parade takes place each February. Carnevale is a battle between 12 different samba schools, each with six different floats competing in an Olympics of Samba for the best dancers costumes and floats in the parade. Each competing team parades with floats and dancers for an hour. Cariocans are as passionate about samba as they are about football.</p> <p>A 15-minute stroll north along Avenida Rio Branco, the newly redeveloped port area is the modern face of Rio, and you’ll find a cultural revolution is in full swing. Seedy bars and clubs have been replaced by the city’s museum and arts centre. The gleaming Museu de Arte do Rio (MAR) now stands over Praça Mauá, the flagship of the Porto Maravilha urban project, along with the new City Museum and the Museum of Tomorrow, film and television studios and artists’ workshops. The port area also hosts the annual super-events Fashion Rio and Arte Rio. It’s Rio’s version of Melbourne or London’s South Bank.</p> <p>For lunch we head to Fogo de Chao, a traditional Brazilian churrascaria (steakhouse), in Rio’s fastest growing suburb Barra de Tijuca, and our next stop is Corcovado (meaning hunchback) Mountain, upon which stands the giant white statue of Christ The Redeemer, the world famous towering symbol of Rio. We reach it via the quaint tram from Rua Cosme Velho, a red cable car that takes 20 minutes to pass through a jungle-covered hill to reach the top of Corcovado. We are rewarded with spectacular views over Rio. We’re lucky, as the heavy fog that covers the mountaintop and the statue – usually visible from downtown – lifts long enough for us to take some selfies beneath the statue.</p> <p>Lunch is back in the city centre at Confeitaria Colombo, a century-old café with huge built-in mirrors and a patisserie downstairs. With its Art Nouveau charm, it’s a perfectly preserved example of the Belle Epoque era in Rio. The café is on Rue Goncalves, so we spend the afternoon wandering through its art and craft galleries and interesting quirky designer shops.</p> <p>On our first night in Rio we head to one of the city’s most photogenic nightspots, the Lapa nightlife district. Lapa is full of cafes and bars that spill out onto the street, and is a great place to indulge in drinks and tapas while rubbing shoulders with the locals. We eat dinner at The Rio Scenarium, a music restaurant with three floors of drinking, dining, antiques and live music, then dance the night away to samba, choro and pagode.</p> <p>The next day we explore one of Rio’s 450 favelas (slums). These makeshift shantytowns of half-finished houses built by poor people from regional areas who moved to the city to find work, cover most of Rio’s hillsides like patchwork quilts. The residents live piled on top of each other in the slum-like dwellings, but Brazilian law states that if you build something and remain in it for five years, you then own it, so they are staying put.</p> <p>Once brimming with crime and dangerous gangs, the Brazilian government made a concerted effort to clean the favelas up before the Olympics, resulting in Rio’s crime rate plummeting in recent years. Thanks to ongoing efforts by the local police to ‘pacify’ favelas, they are a now a relatively safe tourist destination in their own right.</p> <p>To escape the summer heat we head to Tijuca, the world largest urban forest on the city’s outskirts, before diving back in to the heady pace of Rio. Then it’s a gondola ride up to Sugar Loaf Mountain, another must for panoramic views over Rio.</p> <p>Our hotel, the beautiful Hotel Santa Teresa, is in the upmarket district of the same name, which sits beneath one of the city’s biggest favelas. It’s a Spanish colonial residence set in a charming village of steep, winding cobbled streets, where colonial mansions with wrought iron gates, bohemian cafes and art galleries line the streets. It has sweeping views of Rio’s frenetic downtown and Lapa districts, so we while away our last night in its pool and bar area, marvelling at the many wild wonders of Rio.</p> <p><em>Written by Karen Halabi. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/the-wild-wonders-of-rio/">MyDiscoveries.</a></em></p>

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Here is what you need to know about Airbnb

<p>What is Airbnb? Airbnb is a vacation rental website that launched back in 2008. On Airbnb you will be able to book unique accommodations (like the giraffe manor, or this treehouse **need links**), entire homes, apartments, single rooms in a larger unit, and shared-room accommodation. Recently, Airbnb has begun to offer travellers “experiences” when they stay in major cities like San Francisco. These experiences are intended to give the traveler the local experience.</p> <p>Many travelers use Airbnb because it makes them feel like they are getting the local’s experience, as opposed to staying in a hotel. Also, travelers who prefer hotels might looks to Airbnb when traveling to a city where they have been unable to book a hotel room due to lack of availabilty.</p> <p>Like with <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/what-is-uber">Uber, </a>before you get started, check if any of your friends or family members have an account on <a href="https://www.airbnb.com/">Airbnb.com</a>. Existing users can give their unique promotion code to people new to Airbnb, and both parties will receive some credit toward their next booking on Airbnb.</p> <p>Once you have set-up an account, fill in your profile. Next, search the city or town you wish to stay in, select a date range for your stay, and narrow down the options by selecting the necessities you are looking for (e.g. wifi, laundry in-unit, pets ok).</p> <p>Scroll through each of the options that match your search qualifications and click on specific places that look like they would be a good fit for your trip. Also, look at the “host” rating to make sure that the owner of the place is trustworthy and that their place is as-advertised + hasn’t received any negative feedback.</p> <p>Message the owner of the place you wish to book with any questions, and your booking request.</p> <p>When the host accepts your booking request, you will be on your way to staying in a new city like a local!</p> <p>The host will provide you with a set of instructions and house rules before you show-up at the door. These will include instructions about how to find the hidden key or what time they will meet you at the place to hand over a key in person. The house rules sheet will include information about things like how to use the BBQ and instructions to unplug all lights and lock-up before leaving. Ensure that you follow these instructions, since when you move out, the host will leave a review for you that will be visible on your account.</p> <p>You will also have the opportunity to leave a review about the place and the host. This is a good time to address any things your particularly enjoyed about the place or the host. If there was a problem you were unable to mitigate with the host or accommodation while you were staying there, leaving a review to let other guests know about the issue can help others ahead of time.</p> <p><em>Written by Luray Joy. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/airbnb-explained/">MyDiscoveries.</a> </em></p>

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Why Seattle in the Unites States is worth a stay

<p>Seattle is a city of contrasts. Made famous by the grunge bands of the 1990s and the film Sleepless in Seattle starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, Seattle is built on maritime foundations. In a strange way it seems to exude both old-school charm and modern city know-how. Gourmands rub shoulders with tech heads, museums meet marketplaces and the old fuses with the new. </p> <p>Whether you’re here for a week, or en route to the Canadian ski-fields, you will find plenty to see and do in Seattle. </p> <p>The foodie trail is worth a trawl to get your taste buds tingling. Fresh produce abounds in the Pike Place Markets on the waterfront in downtown Seattle. Wander along the stalls at lunchtime and you will be serenaded by busking musicians. </p> <p>When in Seattle, you have to try deliciously fresh salmon. Pick up a fillet or some smoked salmon at one of the many Pike Place fish-mongers or dine in style at a quaint cafe. If you time it right, you may also witness the famous local tradition of fish-throwing. </p> <p>Across the road you’ll stumble on a hefty queue for the original Starbucks café, which is worth a visit, if only for the historical value. For something sweet, try a homemade treat from one of the First Avenue bakeries. Pop into Beecher’s Handmade Cheese to witness the dairy production process from pail to platter and they will let you do some taste-testing. </p> <p>Start with an Argosy Harbour Cruise tour for information about the history of trade and shipping. The cruise also offers great views from the shipyards. </p> <p>Nearby the Seattle Aquarium has a fabulous exhibition on the life cycle of salmon and introducing puffins, seals and otters. </p> <p>No trip to Seattle would be complete without a visit to the Space Needle. Seattle’s proudest monument, is worth a visit for bird’s eye views over the rooftops and city streets, although the ascent is not very accessible. </p> <p>In the shadow of the Space Needle you’ll find Chihuly Garden and gallery which, showcases the spectacular works of renowned glassblower and sculptor Dave Chihuly. The artist’s works are on display in many famous hotels, including Atlantis in the Bahamas. Inside the gallery,  large-scale long-stemmed flowers are illuminated in the dark exhibition space. Outisde colourful orbs and swirls bring a touch of fun to the garden. The show-stopper is the hanging glass vine on the ceiling of a huge glasshouse. It reflects the natural light beneath the silhouette of the Space Needle.</p> <p>If you’re feeling adventurous, other attractions covered by your City Pass include Pacific Science Centre, the funky Museum of Pop Culture, and the Woodland Park Zoo which is on Seattle’s outskirts. </p> <p>Perry Como and Bobby Sherman famously waxed lyrical about Seattle in their 1950s and 1960s hit singles, crooning that “the hills are the greenest green in Seattle.” A day trip to one of the parks outside the city will offer up excellent hiking trails and in winter great ski spots for the powder hounds. Canada’s Vancouver is also only a 3.5 hour drive from Seattle. If you hire a car in Seattle – it could save you up to a third of the cost of the Canadian equivalent. </p> <p>The beauty of Seattle’s tourist centre is that most sites are accessible on foot. Short walks, a cab or an Uber drive have the city covered – you can use the Monorail system although this is better suited to commuters than sightseers. </p> <p>The weather is characteristically wet and drizzly. It generally remains above zero year-round and reaches its hottest at 18C in July. The rain doesn’t stop people from being out and about so be sure to pack a light rain jacket or poncho. Chat to locals to find out more about the city’s best kept secrets, especially when it comes to up-and-coming cafes or quirky galleries and museums. Seattle’s population of roughly 700,000 are relaxed, approachable and welcoming.</p> <p>After a busy day out and about you won’t be sleepless in Seattle. We recommend a stay at the Mayflower Park Hotel. The cosy, intimate hotel with its grand, old-style interior is located within walking distance to the town centre, and right on the subway line making airport transfers easy. The staff will be calling you by name in no time, testament to the impressive hospitality and enchanting, traditional ambiance. A luxurious Executive Suite with two bathrooms, a sitting room and dining table can be enjoyed for less than $200 US.</p> <p><em>Written by Sophie Cullen. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/settle-in-to-seattle-why-seattle-is-worth-a-stay/">MyDiscoveries.</a> </em></p>

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See the magic of Iguazu Falls

<p>You can hear the thunderous roar of Iguazu Falls long before you see the swirling white foamed waters tumbling over rocks to the depths below. The curtain of waterfalls that straddle the Brazil and Argentinian border is a spectacular sight and no matter how many times you watch documentaries or read about it, nothing compares to the first glimpse you catch of nature’s watery masterpiece.</p> <p>Discovered by Spanish conquistador Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca in 1541, there are 275 cascades fed by the Iguazu River across a 2.7km wide canyon. Legend has it that U.S. first lady, the late Eleanor Roosevelt, was so overwhelmed when she first visited the falls she uttered two words – “Poor Niagara.”</p> <p>Iguazu Falls is taller than Niagara and twice as wide and can be visited on both the Brazil and Argentinian sides both providing different experiences. Iguazu, which means ‘big water’ in the native Tupi-Guarani language. Formed about 150 million years ago, it’s considered to be the world’s largest cluster of waterfalls and is so impressive it was voted on to the new natural Seven Wonders of the World hotlist.</p> <p>There are several ways to see these incredible falls. Our day starts with a walk on the Brazilian side of the falls with our guide Louis, who directs us to the best vantage points for photos. As we stand in front of the falls, Louis says: “This is paradise and is always a sight to behold – you just never tire of it.”</p> <p>Lightweight rainjackets are recommended the closer we get to the falls but on a hot day, the light spray is a welcome relief. It’s mesmerising watching the 1.3 million litres of water spill over the rocks, every second.</p> <p>Home for the night is the historic Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas, the only accommodation in Brazil’s Iguacu National Park. Staying there, the falls are yours from dusk to dawn, long after thousands of tourists have left.</p> <p>We sit on the verandah of the 193-room Portuguese colonial style hotel, caipirinha in hand, and wait for the knockout sunset that exceeds expectations. Red and magenta colours streak the sky as Iguazu’s continuous roar serenades us.</p> <p>Dinner is Piranha broth, ceviche and pan-seared Amazonian Piraruca fish at the hotel’s Itaipu Restaurant, and before bed we head across to the falls to watch the full moon cast her shadow over the dark waters. It’s a toss-up what’s a more spectacular sight – the falls in daylight or by moonlight.</p> <p>Taking Louis’ insider advice, we’re up early next morning and spot a colourful resident toucan near the falls viewing platform, just below the hotel. He perches in a tree’s lower branches, allowing us a close-up view of his stunning plumage before he flies off, just as the first tourist buses arrive in the park.</p> <p>For the best bird’s eye view of the falls, take a 10-minute helicopter ride that hovers over the falls and the giant Iguacu National Park that stretches for 185,000 hectares. It is absolutely breathtaking and is a great position from which to take photos.</p> <p>The second day we head to the Argentinian side of the falls after obtaining a visa from the border security, which is quick and efficient. This side offers a different perspective of the beauty of the falls, as well as a chance to get closer to the highest waterfall, the Devil’s Throat, that is considered the most scenic curved cataract, with 14 falls.</p> <p>But the most fun is the jetboat ride that nudges right under the falls – this time we really get a proper dousing and there’s much laughter as we ride the rapids and do several spins. It’s an exhilarating experience that again leaves you in awe of these magnificent falls.</p> <p>The surrounding rainforest delta is home to 2000 species of plants and animals including the opossum, the only marsupial found outside Australia. There are also jaguars, ocelots, anteaters, harpy eagles and yacare caiman. Louis tells us more than 30 jaguars roam the park and he’s been lucky to see one from a distance five years ago. “They don’t like people and are rarely seen, it’s considered very fortunate if you see one,” he says.</p> <p>Back on Brazil’s side of the falls, there’s a bird park that’s covers 17 hectares of native woodland and is home to 150 bird species from around the world including large toucans, macaws and parakeets.</p> <p>Tourists can also visit the Itaipu Dam, the world’s largest hydro-electric power plant in terms of electricity generation and the city of Foz do Iguaçu with a population of 311,000.</p> <p>Unfortunately, we don’t spot a jaguar, but instead a magnificent double rainbow takes centre stage above the falls as we prepare to leave – a fitting farewell to one of the most remarkable sights on Earth.</p> <p><strong>Best time to go: </strong>The rainy season sees even more water rushing over the falls while the dry season features more rainbows</p> <p><em>Written by Sue Wallace. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/iguazu-falls/">MyDisoveries.</a></em></p>

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Insiders tips to travelling Kauai

<p>Michael Farley takes us on his favourite travel destination; Kauai.</p> <p>This beautiful island is part of the Hawaiian archipelago, the fourth largest island of the America's 50th state. Kauai is nicknamed the 'Garden Isle', and it's not hard to see why, as lush rainforests cover the island. </p> <p><strong>1. Why did you go there?</strong></p> <p>Robyn and I used to own a condo on Kauai and it blew away in a cyclone some 20 years ago. We decided to return for a three week holiday last August.</p> <p><strong>2. What is your favourite travel memory in Kauai?</strong></p> <p>Taking time out every evening to enjoy the sunsets, watch the amazing different sunsets every evening pre dinner over Bali Hi with a glass of wine.</p> <p><strong>3. Which 'don't miss' experience do you recommend?</strong></p> <p>Play the Makai golf course at Princeville, take the chopper ride over the Na Pali Coast, visit the local markets. Visit the great beaches and try a little paddle boarding! Take the boat ride along the Na Pali Coast.</p> <p><strong>4. What was your favourite purchase from Kauai?</strong></p> <p>Go to the markets and find jewellery made from tiny shells, amazing bracelets not sold on the mainland.</p> <p><strong>5. What food did you most enjoy there? </strong></p> <p>Start the day with an Acai bowl at the fruit van in Hanalei Bay. You will find some excellent French wines in liquor store in Princeville shopping center.</p> <p><strong>6. Did you go on any good walks?</strong></p> <p>We liked visiting the gardens and walking for miles. The Allerton gardens on the south of the island are really worth a visit.</p> <p><strong>7. What is your best money-saving tip for travellers?</strong></p> <p>If you are going to play more than six games of golf on Makai course pre pay you will save 40 per cent. Also, visit the different markets every day and buy your fruit and veggies fresh as it is much cheaper than stores. Stay in a self-contained condo. I recommend Pali Ke Kua.</p> <p><strong>8. What is your best travel advice?</strong></p> <p>Allow plenty of time for flight check ins and don’t get stressed on the start of your holiday. Travel business class if you can afford it. I have long legs so a must for me.</p> <p><strong>A guide to Kauai travel</strong><br /><a href="http://t.dgm-au.com/c/185116/69171/1880?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.booktopia.com.au%2Fthe-ultimate-kauai-guidebook-andrew-doughty%2Fprod9780983888765.html">The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook: Kauai Revealed</a> by Andrew Doughty is an excellent resource. Amazon’s website describes the book as “the finest guidebook ever written for Kauai”. I agree. It is available in both paperback and Kindle formats.</p> <p><strong>Beaches</strong></p> <p><strong>Hideaways Beach </strong>Public access to Hideaways can be found just past Pu’u Poa. The steps are in disrepair so the trail can be quite tricky to navigate.</p> <p><strong>Hanalei Beach</strong> is a spectacularly beautiful setting with three distinct areas. Black Pot Beach, located by the pier, is a hangout for locals. Pine Trees, on the opposite end, has picnic and barbaque facilities. The middle section is where we set up for a day at the beach. Parking is convenient and there are showers close by.</p> <p><strong>Lumahai Beach </strong>is located a couple miles past Hanalei, is where Mitzi Gaynor “washed that man right out of her hair” in the film <em>South Pacific</em>. There are two entrances to the beach, one higher up where you take a short trail down and one at the road level. It is a beautiful setting and never crowded. The Lumahai River flows into the ocean at the west end, and you may see folks swimming in the river. The ocean is rough and lava rock plentiful, so swimming is not advised.</p> <p>Continuing down the road you will find <strong>Haena State Park</strong> and <strong>Tunnels Beach</strong>. There is a great snorkeling reef a ways east (right) down the beach. It is a fairly long trek, especially if you are carrying chairs, an umbrella, a cooler, etc. Haena often has a food truck with fish tacos.</p> <p>You will find <strong>Ke’e Beach</strong> at the end of the road. The beach is protected by a reef, so the water is generally calm, though often not particularly clear. There are trees which may provide a little shade - a little relief from the sun.</p> <p><strong>The Queen’s Bath</strong> is a lava rock tide pool, not a beach. It is located just off Punahele Road, where a small parking area is designated. When you get down to the rock field at the base of the trail, go left for 130 metres or so. Weather/surf conditions can make the hike difficult and swimming impossible, so use caution.</p> <p>We head to <strong>Anini Beach</strong> at least once a week. The beach is protected by a reef, so children can enjoy playing at the water’s edge. There is often a vendor with paddle boards and surf sails for rent.</p> <p><strong>Hiking</strong></p> <p>The <strong>Kalalau Trail</strong> begins at the end of the road, at Ke’e Beach. While the whole trail is 18 kms and requires camping permits, you may want to go the first 3 kms, as far as Hanakapiai Beach. In the summer months there is a sandy plateau for resting; in the winter the beach has been washed away. If you have the stamina, take a spur up into the valley to Hanakapiai Falls… making the route a total of 13 kms. Bring bottles of water and snacks.</p> <p>The <strong>Wai Koa Loop</strong> is a beautiful 8 km path, only recently opened to the public. It passes beneath the towering Norfolk Pines and through an old mahogany plantation. Don’t miss the spur down to the ancient Hawaiian ponds. Parking for this trail is located next to the Miniature Golf and Botanical Garden, which we love.</p> <p><strong>Activities</strong></p> <p>The history of the <strong>Kilauea Lighthouse</strong> is interesting, and the bird sanctuary is amazing. You will likely see many different tropical birds flying and nesting in the area. Guided tours with a naturalist are available by reservation.</p> <p>If you are interested in authentic <strong>slack key guitar music</strong>, there is a concert every Friday at 4pm and Sunday at 3pm at the Hanalei Community Center given by Sandy and Doug McMaster. It is a casual, laid-back venue for music and story-telling.</p> <p>The <strong>Limahuli Gardens</strong> are located almost to Ke’e at the end of the road. These gardens feature Hawaiian history and species native to the island.</p> <p><strong>Na Aina Kai</strong> grounds feature themed gardens enhanced with bronze sculptures. The two and a half hour walk to the beach is a must.</p> <p><strong>Restaurants</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.restaurantbaracuda.com/"><strong>Bar Acuda</strong></a>, a tapas bar/restaurant in the quaint village of Hanalei, is excellent! I would recommend making a dinner reservation, especially during the busy tourist season.</p> <p>Lunch and/or dinner at the <a href="http://www.kauaimedgourmet.com/"><strong>Mediterranean Gourmet</strong></a>, down the highway toward Tunnels, is at the top of our list. It is located right at the ocean’s edge. In high surf you can feel and taste the ocean spray in the air. Make a reservation and ask for a table by the windows. Plan to arrive before the sun goes down so that you can appreciate the location.</p> <p>For an evening with a local feel, check out <a href="http://thenui.com/">Tahiti Nui</a> in Hanalei. It looks like a dive… a dive that was featured in the movie, <em>The Descendants</em>, with George Clooney. The food is OK… but the local music and atmosphere is worth it.</p> <p><em>Written by Michael Farley. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/wyza-insider-travel-tips-kauai.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

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An insider's guide to Bangkok at its best

<p>Thailand’s capital seems to polarise people - you either love it or hate it.</p> <p>Admittedly it can be frustrating coping with massive traffic jams, heat and humidity, and crowded shopping malls. Not everyone’s cup of chai.</p> <p>But then there are people like me. I welcome the occasional escape into chaos, humanity, odiferous durian-laced markets, tuk tuks buzzing like flies and most of all, cheap and cheerful Thai street food.</p> <p>And I love the activity on the Chao Phraya River as it snakes its way through the city. It’s the Bangkok I know best.</p> <p><strong>Early memories</strong></p> <p>I first arrived here in the 1960s. I was young, inexperienced and it was my first time in Asia. What a culture shock.</p> <p>Staying at the YMCA, I met some British seamen enjoying R&amp;R and inevitably, got into all sorts of trouble. Thus, my first recollections of Bangkok are pretty hazy but I do remember being invited to “tea” by a couple of Ansett hosties (as they were known then) at the Oriental Hotel. They must have been paying “airline staff rate” as it was way too expensive for me!</p> <p>Anyhow, the place left an indelible impression and later in my career I was part of the team that launched the modern new River Wing of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in the 1970s.</p> <p><strong>The river of kings</strong></p> <p>The Chao Phraya is the heart and soul of this teeming metropolis, and has played a major role in Thailand’s history. Up till 1767, Thailand’s capital was further up river at Ayudhya but for strategic and trade reasons, King Taksin moved it downstream to Thonburi. Then in 1782, King Rama 1 moved the seat of government across the river and established today’s Bangkok.</p> <p>Since then the city has flourished as a trading port and business centre, as well as becoming the main tourist drawcard. Until the 1990s, that is, when development moved further away from the riverside to areas like Sukhumvit Road with glitzy new office buildings and of course, brand new hotels.</p> <p><strong>More recent times</strong></p> <p>I’m more than familiar with the Bangkok of the 1980s and 1990s. During that time I probably visited the city and other parts of Thailand at least 30 times on business mixed with a little pleasure, simply because it’s that kind of place.</p> <p>It was always nice to escape the sanity of Hong Kong and Singapore for the madness of the “City of Angels” and the many friends I made there.</p> <p>Classy hotels like the Shangri-La and the Royal Orchid Sheraton sprang up along the river banks, and gave tourists a reason to move back to this historic part of the city.</p> <p><strong>Today’s bangkok</strong></p> <p>The Chao Phraya is just as much an integral part of the capital’s identity as it was in the 18th century. In fact, much more so. For the river offers the traveller a true glimpse of Bangkok life, with long tail ferries, hotel shuttle boats, and huge barges being pulled along by tiny tugs.</p> <p>Schoolchildren, monks, businessmen and housewives commute to and from Thonburi and at night, there’s a steady progression of dinner cruises with live entertainment blaring forth. It’s a colourful, fun scene which the business-like centre of Bangkok can’t match.</p> <p><strong>Where to stay along the river</strong></p> <p>There are now more than a dozen riverside hotels including the Peninsula and the Mandarin Oriental, but my favourites remain the Shangri-La and the Royal Orchid Sheraton for their resort facilities [tennis, gym and pools], excellent buffet breakfasts, impeccable service and fabulous 270 degree views of river life.</p> <p>Another interesting choice would be <a href="http://www.secret-retreats.com/chakrabongse">Chakrabongse Villas</a>, previously a 19th century Royal Residence with just 12 rooms and the finest Thai cuisine.</p> <p><strong>Riverside attractions</strong></p> <p>A visit to Asiatique is a must. This recent development is a flourishing night market with dozens of restaurants, bars and boutiques selling local designer threads, different to the usual cheap T-shirt stalls (although there are those as well). There’s something here to enjoy for everyone whether you’re a shopper or not. Access is by taxi, or the free shuttle boat service from Taksin Bridge.</p> <p>The Jam Factory across on Thonburi side is a converted industrial building with two excellent restaurants, bookshop, art gallery and more.</p> <p>Learn the secrets of Thai cuisine at several cooking schools. Shop for arts and crafts at River City, next to the Sheraton. Explore the riverside precincts with bike tours and gallery visits, and try the street food (Pad Thai is my favourite).</p> <p>And if you’re in luck with timing, the annual “River on a Plate” dine-around in November is a great excuse for overeating. There are many other events along the river, year-round.</p> <p><em>Written by Phil Hawkes. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/an-insiders-guide-to-bangkok-at-its-best.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p> <p> </p> <p>Understanding the financial pages</p> <p>Understanding the financial pages: Here are a few tips that may help to get you started to understand the financial pages of the daily newspaper. Read more:</p> <p>Read more here.</p> <p>Looking at the financial pages of the daily newspaper may seem like a bewildering onslaught of information with reams of market statistics and measurements. This can make the investment world seem quite complex and intimidating, but when you break it down and try to grasp each of the component parts, it is well within the capacity of most lay people to understand.</p> <p>Here are a few tips that may help to get you started:</p> <p><strong>Firstly, a word of warning</strong><br />Beware of the temptation to start reading the financial pages in the same way you would read the form guide for horse racing!</p> <p>It is easy to get caught up in habit of tracking daily movements of particular share values, but this can distract you from the taking the broad, long term view that is so essential to successful investing. In short, don’t be tempted to try and ‘pick winners’.</p> <p><strong>Understanding the ASX table</strong><br />The financial section of the newspaper will normally show the full list of companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. Next to each company will be a range of figures, usually beginning with the price of the share for that company at the end of the previous day’s trading. Some publications will also show a three letter ‘ASX code’ used to identify the company.</p> <p>Other measurements shown on this table include:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Weekly volume</strong> – The total number of shares of a company that were bought and sold within the last week.</li> <li><strong>Price movements</strong> – This may be shown as the price change since the previous day’s closing price, or it may be shown as a change over the previous week and some financial tables will even show the change over the last 12 months.</li> <li><strong>Dividend yield percentage</strong> – This figure is sometimes also shown and is the amount a company pays out in dividends each year as a percentage of the current share price. For example, if a particular share has a value of $100 and has paid a dividend of $5 then its dividend yield is 5% ($5 divided by $100).</li> </ul> <p><strong>Market indices</strong> <br />While the ASX table breaks down the performance of each company separately, you can also look at the collective performance of the market as a whole via the ‘All Ordinaries Index’. This tracks the movement of the total value of all shares on the exchange and the change over the last week and month may also be shown.</p> <p>Apart from the All Ordinaries Index, there are also a range of other sub-indices which indicate the performance of different segments of the market. The ASX 200, for example, is an index that tracks the change in collective value of the largest 200 public companies.</p> <p>Some indices focus on specific industrial segments. The S&amp;P ASX200 Energy Index, for example, measures the largest 200 energy companies. There are indices for and range of other sectors, such as health care, industry, finance, and metals and mining.</p> <p><strong>International markets</strong><br />Financial pages will also usually show various indices for major stock markets in other countries, such as the Dow Jones index in the USA, the FTSE in the UK and the Hang Seng in China.</p> <p><strong>Commodity prices</strong><br />The prices and price changes of key commodities are also a feature of many financial pages. Oil and gold are two such commodities that will usually be shown because of their importance as indicators of the general direction of the world economy and of market sentiment.</p> <p><strong>Exchange rates</strong><br />These are another important indicator of economic conditions and the state of the economies of different countries relative to each other. The financial pages will usually show the daily movement of the Australian Dollar against major world currencies, such as the US Dollar, the Euro and the Yen.</p> <p>There can be many factors within each country’s domestic economy which influence the movements in exchange rates. These can include interest rates, inflation, political stability, government debt and terms of trade.</p> <p><strong>Making sense of it all</strong><br />It would obviously take quite some time if you were to review and analyse all the items being reported and measured on the daily financial pages. Even if you do have the time to do that, it takes a considerable amount of skill and experience to interpret what different movements mean.</p> <p>Often the day to day movements in things like share prices and exchange rates are the result of transient factors and it is only a consistent analysis over a long period of time that can start to make a coherent interpretation.</p> <p>While it can be interesting to follow the fluctuating fortunes of particular shares, or the daily machinations of indices, commodities and exchange rates, it helps to have a financial adviser on your side to look at the bigger, long term picture.</p> <p>They will have access to expert research resources that constantly analyse markets at home and abroad and can position you to grow wealth without the need to personally keep track of day to day changes.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/money/financial-planning/understanding-the-financial-pages.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

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Why we love the ocean

<p>Whenever I plunge into the ocean, laughter bursts from me. The waves are so wild and fresh and wonderful that my heart sings with joy and sends the happy notes out between my lips.</p> <p>It’s lovely, but also a little strange, because I didn’t even like the water until two years ago.</p> <p>My antipathy was the stuff of legend. As a twentysomething, a boyfriend sent me a bouquet with a note attached saying: “For a Piscean who hates water … some flowers to put in it …”</p> <p>As a fortysomething, “no” had become my standard response to just about everything. I’d taken a set against potential fun, preferring to stand on the sidelines of life. I refused to participate in anything that would take me out of my comfort zone.</p> <p>I can see now that I was struggling to hold my head above water. Living a controlled life was my coping mechanism.</p> <p>When my marriage fell apart three years ago, I realised it was time to sink or swim. I chose to swim, both literally and figuratively.</p> <p>And, six months later, I fell in love – both with a man and the sea.</p> <p>There’s something about my new relationship that makes me want to say “yes”. I feel released from those old ways that constricted my willingness to try new things.</p> <p>My late-in-life openness – coupled with my partner’s seaside abode – has led to an addiction to the ocean.</p> <p>The sight of the water soothes me. Its cool beauty washes away the stresses of my days. I love the feeling of its dried salt on my skin and in the curls of my hair.</p> <p>It’s so unexpected that a pale, freckled redhead should yearn to leap and float in the surf, but I miss the ocean every day I’m not there.</p> <p>I’ll never be the type to sunbake on the sand. My favourite times for a dip are the early morning and late afternoon, when the heat of the sun and the crowds have gone.</p> <p>My partner and I often meet at our favourite beach for an after-work surf fix. Last week, he arrived with a bottle of prosecco, popped the cork and poured two glasses. We clinked, took a few sips, then ran into the waves as a sun shower started sprinkling down.</p> <p>It was gorgeous and refreshing and a tiny bit magical … and familiar laughter soon burst from me again.</p> <p>While it once took a heatwave to entice me into the waves, I now swim in the ocean year round.</p> <p>Last winter, I posted a kayaking shot on Instagram, prompting a former colleague to comment that it must have been freezing.</p> <p>I noted: “No wind, so not too bad, but I went for a swim in the surf at Palm Beach afterwards … THAT was pretty chilly … Who AM I?”</p> <p>She replied: “I have to agree Alana – who the hell are you???”</p> <p>I’m a woman who, late in life, has realised she loves the ocean.</p> <p>Not all bodies of water float my boat, it must be the sea.</p> <p>I get bored in swimming pools or lakes or harbour inlets. It’s the waves I crave. I love being buffeted about in them. I’m reminded how brilliant it is to be alive as I leap and dive in their tumult.</p> <p>I dream of retiring to the seaside one day, so I can get a daily fix. But for now it’s a blissful escape from the work-sleep-eat Groundhog Day cycle.</p> <p><em>Written by Alana House. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/lifestyle/in-praise-of/in-praise-of-the-ocean.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

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‘New Bradfield’: rerouting rivers to recapture a pioneering spirit

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The “</span><a href="https://www.deb2020.com.au/newbradfield/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">New Bradfield</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">” scheme is more than an attempt to transcend environmental reality. It seeks to revive a pioneering spirit and a nation-building ethos supposedly stifled by the </span><a href="https://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/news/townsville/townsville-enterprise-to-receive-24m-for-hells-gates-dam-case-after-months-of-bureacratic-delay/news-story/492dba14afd4ce71ffd08f12d38c15a6"><span style="font-weight: 400;">bureaucratic inertia</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> of modern Australia.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This is not a new lament. Frustrated by bureaucracy, politicians in North Queensland have long criticised the slow pace of northern development.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In 1950, northern local governments blamed urban lethargy. </span><a href="https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/63184273?searchTerm=concern%20at%20drift%20in%20north%27s%20population&amp;searchLimits="><span style="font-weight: 400;">One prominent mayor</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> complained: “</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">… these young people lack the pioneering spirit of their forebears, preferring leisure and pleasure to hardships and hard work.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">These sentiments were inspired by an agrarian nostalgia that extolled toil and toughness. Stoic responses to the challenges of life on the land are part of the </span><a href="https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/9284258"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Australian legend</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With drought devastating rural and urban communities and a state election looming in Queensland in 2020, </span><a href="https://www.smh.com.au/politics/queensland/leaders-tout-bradfield-scheme-options-in-queensland-election-fight-20191101-p536o2.html"><span style="font-weight: 400;">both sides of politics</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> have proposed a “New Bradfield” scheme.</span></p> <p><strong>An idea with 19th-century origins</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Civil engineer John Bradfield devised the original scheme in 1938. His plan would </span><a href="https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/97050378?browse=ndp%3Abrowse%2Ftitle%2FQ%2Ftitle%2F379%2F1939%2F05%2F04%2Fpage%2F10280686%2Farticle%2F97050378"><span style="font-weight: 400;">swamp inland Australia</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> by reversing the flow of North Queensland’s rivers. Similar proposals go back to at least 1887, when geographer </span><a href="https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/35590102?q&amp;versionId=44284267+219718360+231090219"><span style="font-weight: 400;">E.A. Leonard recommended</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> the Herbert, Tully, Johnstone and Barron rivers be turned around to irrigate Australia’s “</span><a href="https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/13361128"><span style="font-weight: 400;">dead heart</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As the “dead heart” became the “</span><a href="http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/finlayson-hedley-herbert-14881"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Red Centre</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">” in the 1930s, </span><a href="https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/6707892?q&amp;versionId=7723963"><span style="font-weight: 400;">populist writers</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> revived the dreams of big irrigation schemes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">These schemes have always been contested on both </span><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-06-18/fact-file-bradfield-scheme-drought-relief/11216616"><span style="font-weight: 400;">environmental and economic grounds</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. A </span><a href="https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/20252029"><span style="font-weight: 400;">compelling history of Bradfield’s</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> proposal reveals many errors and miscalculations. But what the scheme lacked in substance it made up for in grandiose vision.</span></p> <p><a href="https://www.textpublishing.com.au/books/the-water-dreamers"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Water dreaming</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> has been a powerful theme in Australian history. The desire to transform desert into farmland retains appeal and </span><a href="https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/97099323?searchTerm=bradfield%20AND%20%22Nimmo%22&amp;searchLimits=exactPhrase=Nimmo%7C%7C%7CanyWords%7C%7C%7CnotWords%7C%7C%7CrequestHandler%7C%7C%7CdateFrom=1944-01-01%7C%7C%7CdateTo=1948-01-01%7C%7C%7Cl-advstate=National%7C%7C%7Cl-advstate=New+South+Wales%7C%7C%7Cl-advstate=Queensland%7C%7C%7Cl-advstate=Victoria%7C%7C%7Csortby"><span style="font-weight: 400;">discredited</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> schemes like Bradfield keep reappearing.</span></p> <p><strong>Contempt for nature and country</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While less ambitious than the original plan, the “New Bradfield” scheme still engineers against the gradient of both history and nature. It would have irreversible consequences for Queensland’s </span><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/am/experts-dismiss-new-drought-proofing-bradfield-scheme/11666006"><span style="font-weight: 400;">environment</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, society and culture.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">What’s more, the new scheme manifests much the same mindset as the old.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It’s an attitude that privileges the conquest of nature: in this case literally up-ending geography by turning east-flowing rivers westward. Its celebration of the human struggle against defiant nature reprises the pioneering ethos.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Like many pioneers, “New Bradfield” proposals disregard the interests and land-management practices of Indigenous people. The bushfires ravaging the eastern states show the folly of </span><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-11-14/traditional-owners-predicted-bushfire-disaster/11700320?sf223598160=1&amp;fbclid=IwAR2UkvGj_wyO4s6tbRqyI5sI6UgEI6SvqkoMwxCFEkKEV6FO7ZGJfGMP3Kc"><span style="font-weight: 400;">ignoring traditional ways of caring for country</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> .</span></p> <p><a href="http://www.hcourt.gov.au/cases/case_d1-2018"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Overlooking native title realities</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> can also cost governments and communities.</span></p> <p><strong>Polarising debate neglects more viable projects</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“New Bradfield” is promoted as “</span><a href="https://www.deb2020.com.au/newbradfield/?utm_source=Digitaliyf&amp;utm_medium=GSearch&amp;utm_campaign=NBradfield&amp;gclid=CjwKCAiA8K7uBRBBEiwACOm4d-0xBRkgojO1Wykl937_rMhWhPhAb2ZsKhcKHOqdM2OuG11V34XdHBoCxBMQAvD_BwE"><span style="font-weight: 400;">an asset owned by all Queenslanders for all Queenslanders</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">”. But </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/the-darling-river-is-simply-not-supposed-to-dry-out-even-in-drought-109880"><span style="font-weight: 400;">environmental destruction</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> and </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/drought-and-climate-change-are-driving-high-water-prices-in-the-murray-darling-basin-119993"><span style="font-weight: 400;">disputes over water sales</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in the Murray-Darling Basin sound a warning.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Queensland Farmers Federation has </span><a href="https://www.qff.org.au/media-releases/qff-welcomes-lnp-commitment-new-bradfield-scheme/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">cautiously welcomed</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> the new scheme. Others have dismissed it as a “</span><a href="https://www.queenslandcountrylife.com.au/story/6479100/cold-water-poured-on-bradfield-mark-ii/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">pipe dream</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Thus, northern Australia again sits amid a polarised debate about its utility to the nation. Such polarising contests diminish the likelihood of more viable projects being implemented.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Extravagant expectations of “untapped” northern resources have been </span><a href="https://scholarly.info/book/northern-dreams/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">proffered for nearly two centuries</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. Distant governments have fantasised the Australian tropics as a land of near-limitless potential. Northern communities have many times been disappointed by the results.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Today’s promises to “</span><a href="https://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/news/opinion/flow-of-jobs-water-vital-for-nq-says-lnp-leader-deb-frecklington/news-story/053bb635b9cb86461ead6eedd39756ca"><span style="font-weight: 400;">drought-proof</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">” large areas of Queensland rely on similar images. “Drought-proofing” aims to keep people on the land but often defies economic and social reality.</span></p> <p><strong>Dam developments have an underwhelming record</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The “New Bradfield” rhetoric echoes the inflated expectations of myriad disappointing northern development plans in the past. The </span><a href="https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9781349905737"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ord River project</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> was touted as an agricultural wonder that would put hundreds of thousands of farmers into the Kimberley. Its success lies forever just over the horizon.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Much closer to the present proposal is the Burdekin Falls Dam. It sits in the lower reaches of the same river earmarked for the </span><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-11-01/bradfield-scheme-is-moving-water-from-north-to-south-feasible/11662942"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hells Gates Dam that would feed</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> the “New Bradfield” scheme. Damming Hells Gates has been advocated since at least the 1930s and has </span><a href="https://www.townsvilleenterprise.com.au/news-media/news-centre/advocacy-alert-hells-gates-funding-agreement-signals-boots-on-the-ground/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">new supporters</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Back in the 1950s, damming the Burdekin was expected to generate hydro-electric power and irrigate vast swathes of farmland. After decades of political squabbling, the dam was completed in 1988. It does not generate hydro power. Although it irrigates some land downstream, the anticipated huge agricultural expansion never happened.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Burdekin Falls Dam has helped the regional economy and could help to overcome the water shortages of the nearby city of Townsville. But it has not met the inflated expectations widely proffered decades earlier. The benefits that would flow from another dam further upstream are likely to be even more meagre.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Grandiose visions of northern development have a habit of </span><a href="https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/8505121?selectedversion=NBD660057"><span style="font-weight: 400;">failing</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. A “New Bradfield” scheme, animated by an old pioneering ethos, is unlikely to be different.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Drought-affected communities would derive more benefit from sober proposals that acknowledge the past, integrate Indigenous knowledge and incorporate agricultural innovation.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Patrick White, Russell Mcgregor. Contribution by Janine Gertz. Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/new-bradfield-rerouting-rivers-to-recapture-a-pioneering-spirit-127010"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Conversation.</span></a></em></p>

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Why Paris is always a good idea

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Want to know another side of Paris? Meet up with an insider. Consider a tour with Cariboo, a community of passionate local guides out to show you what they love about their city. Walk, talk history, browse buildings and grab a bite in the bustling 2nd arrondissement with a retired general.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Do a hands-on shoeshine course with a professional cobbler, or get a glimpse of the murderous, ghostly side of the City of Lights with a book-loving theatre bug.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you prefer a more theatrical tone, try Visites Spectacles. Set off with a costumed actor in search of the beautiful Moulin Rouge dancer, Gabrielle, and along the way discover Montmartre’s Belle Époque characters – Picasso, Braque, Modigliani and Utrillo, street urchins and legendary cancan dancers.</span></p> <p><strong>Why not sail on an enchanting Parisian peniche?</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Meander along the Promenade Plantée, a railway viaduct morphed into the world's first elevated park. Blooming with lavender, roses, wisteria, maples, cherry trees and birdlife, the 4.5km corridor winds through the lesser-known 12th arrondissement, from Opéra Bastille past apartment blocks to the woods of Vincennes, via the picnic-perfect Jardin de Reuilly.</span></p> <p><strong>The beautiful flowers from Mimi</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Fuel up for an afternoon at The Louvre with a takeaway lunch box jammed with organic, gluten- and dairy-free treats, prepared by the passionate all-female team of La Guinguette D'Angèle.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Stock up on food supplies at Marché Aligre, an authentic neighbourhood market with an excess of barking vendors, basket-loads of produce and a rich cultural mix. Prices are slightly higher at the covered Marché Beauvau next door but the olive oils, tapenades, craft beer, and take-home spit-roasted pork and lamb are first rate as are the cheeses and butter at Fromagerie Hardouin-Langlet.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Circle back to the flea market on Place d’Aligre to pick up a bargain curio–French jam jars or a bone-handled cheese knife, anyone?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Take the wheel of an electric boat at the Bassin de la Vilette (no permit required). Marin d’eau douce in the 19th arrondissement rents out cute 5, 7 or 11-seaters. Throw in a picnic and cruise the local canals on a sun-splashed Paris day, pulling into a grassy bank at leisure.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Demolish a Paris-Brest from La Pâtisserie des Rêves. The unadulterated hazelnut flavour, crispy choux pastry and gooey praline is life affirming.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Make a pilgrimage to the Cimetiere de Passy, the smallest of the 19thC grands cimetières Parisiens, to see the tombs of Impressionist painters Edouard Manet and his sister-in-law Berthe Morisot, composer Claude Debussy, fashion designer Jean Patou, and the last emperor of Vietnam, Bao Dai.</span></p> <p><strong>The Cimietiere de Passy</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A colossal WWI sculpture adorning the cemetery walls on Place du Trocadero is by Paul Landowski, the man responsible for Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wave to the Eiffel Tower across the river as you head up through the 16th arrondissement to the Musée Marmottan to see the largest collection of Berthe Morisot’s work.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Slip out to the Fondation Louis Vuitton in the Bois de Boulogne just to stand beneath the Daniel Buren coloured rooftop. Join the perennial queue at Le Burger Fermier des Enfants Rouges in the city’s oldest covered market. The burgers are made with meat fresh from Pas-de-Calais farms in the north, slapped on homemade buns, topped with cheeses sourced from small producers, wrapped in mock newspaper and served with a cone of fresh fries.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Meats, sausages and terrines from northern farms are good take-home-for-later fare. Grab a fragrant bunch of blooms from Mimi on your way out and cross the road to Empreintes, an artistic concept store showcasing the superb work of French craftsmen and women, from jewellery and tableware to lights and furniture.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Devour a côte de boeuf for two at late-night Chez Denise–La Tour de Montlhéry.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Still wandering? Get lost in the ramshackle alleys of antiques at Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen. You may never find your way home again.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Maryanne Blacker. Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/why-paris-is-always-a-good-idea.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></em></p>

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Exploring Kakadu: A paradise to see

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The sun is settling across the horizon of the wetlands; thousands of birds are already in place on the calm waters, while many more are making their way across the sky in group formation to where they will rest for the night.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It’s a warm evening with a light breeze and our bush oven is flavouring our bush tucker dinner that was collected during the day.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The sun is setting now which means that our fresh barramundi, wild magpie goose and water buffalo will be ready soon.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Happy and with new friends, we settle in to enjoy the spectacular sunset with a cup of freshly made billy tea with smiles on our faces. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Animal Tracks Safaris are no ordinary tours as we soon find out: it’s the real deal and definitely one of the best tours we have enjoyed anywhere in the world. Owner and tour guide Sean’s passion for Kakadu is complimented by our aboriginal bush guide Patsy who provides us with an insight into traditional living and hunting across this remarkable land. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Our open sided tour bus is comfortable and allows us to all see, hear and smell the bush. It really is a magnificent setting. On our tour is a group of mixed nations aged from 10 years old up to my Mum, Judy, who had recently arrived in Darwin on the Ghan from Adelaide who is in her early 70’s.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Meeting our local guide Patsy really feels like an honour. Patsy is shy at first but warmed to us all as we did to her. Learning how to gather bush tucker and about the history of the area from her was an amazing experience. To me I’ve always looked at the bush landscape as just bush but Patsy helped show me that it’s really a remarkable provider of food and resources to sustain life.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The amount of birds on the water and in the skies around us is hard to imagine as are the sunsets. Kakadu is a paradise and should be at the top of everyone’s to do list.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Kakadu’s Yellow Water Cruise which operates from near Cooinda Lodge is also a great way to experience the abundance of wildlife amongst stunning waterways.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Our guide gives a really informative commentary and is an expert in naming the wide variety of bird life that we come across. On our morning cruise we were certainly treated to a great show by the local crocodiles which were basking in the sunshine along the banks and swimming with surprising grace past our boat.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It ‘s too hard to describe Kakadu without using all of the usual superlatives, in fact Kakadu probably inspired the creation of many superlatives in the first place. Amazing, magic, inspiring, a must see!</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Lynton Jones. Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/explore-kakadu-the-paradise-of-the-north.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></em></p>

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Why Africa should be on your bucket list

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The other day I was enjoying my morning coffee and some raisin toast at the local cafe and I couldn’t help eavesdropping on the conversation at the table next to me.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This conversation was philosophical as it had to do with “Bucket Lists”. The group consisted of five ladies who were happily chatting about things that they had always wanted to do but just hadn’t gotten around to. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One lady, let’s call her Sarah, piped in that she had always wanted to learn how to juggle! “Well, grab three oranges from the counter and give it a try now” were my immediate thoughts, but none of her friends seemed to channel my suggestion.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Another lady we’ll call Susan who, from what I could tell was the quiet one of the group finally had her say and announced that she wanted to see Africa. Well this is getting interesting now, I thought, I can be of assistance here!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Africa, wow! What do you want to do over there?” asked her friends. “Well, firstly, I’d like to see all of the animals, you know elephants and lions and things.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Aha! I thought, A visit to Kruger National Park will help Susan to see some of the “Big 5” African animals and she could stay at one of the affordable private lodges and game reserves that surround the national park. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Kruger National Park is world renowned and offers a wildlife experience that ranks with the best across all of Africa. Most of us have only ever seen Africa’s amazing animals at the zoo but imagine how fantastic if would be to see them up close in the wild.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Another in the group seemed to baulk at the idea of the “flies, the heat, tent-camping”, adding “and I’m not keen on trekking through jungles or rafting down rivers.“ At this point I nearly opened my mouth, but Susan added, ”I was watching a program on TV a few weeks ago which featured a luxury train in South Africa so I would love to take a trip by rail and just stare at the country side passing by” </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">‘Bingo!’ I thought ‘What a great idea Sue! The Blue Train is a luxurious 5-star rolling hotel and is a perfect alternative to flying between Cape Town and Pretoria. The trip takes around 27 hours and covers 1600 kilometres. The Blue train is described as opening “A window to the soul of South Africa” The train is packed with luxury including magnificent suites, elegant lounge areas and fine dining. Travellers enjoy all of this luxury while taking in some of South Africa’s most diverse and spectacular scenery.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“What about Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls?” chimed Sarah the potential juggler, revealing that she too, had looked into the idea “Oh yes that would be fantastic as well” dreamed Susan.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, I nearly interrupted. It’s amazing! You can take a guided walking tour around the falls and enjoy a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River then relax in the luxury of your lodge accommodation which overlooks the Zambezi National Park.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I had to leave the ladies to their dreaming and musings as there was so much more I could suggest about travelling in Africa; a self guided driving holiday through the Winelands on Route 62, a classic luxury camping safari in Namibia or a visit to the Masai Mara in Kenya. We can’t forget trekking on Mount Kilimanjaro or visiting the gorillas in the wilds of Rwanda.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I finished my coffee and as I passed their table I quietly handed each of them my travel agency’s business card and smiled, “I can make dreams come true” I said which made them laugh as they worked out what I meant. I left the cafe with a spring in my step and a smile on my face.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Of course there are so many more amazing experience awaiting you across the African continent, from small intimate safari lodges to grand 5 star resorts- Africa has it all!</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Lynton Jones, Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/why-africa-should-be-on-your-bucket-list.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></em></p>

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Setting sail: How to pick the perfect cruise for you

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The rise of popularity of cruises means that there is now a good option to suit any type of cruise holiday, in pretty much any location you can imagine. So, with that much choice, how do you pick the best cruise for you?</span></p> <p><strong>Plan in place</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cruise prices vary dramatically - they can be anything from under a hundred dollars to many thousands per night. You may want to reward yourself or celebrate a special occasion and spend a little extra, or perhaps you just need some well-deserved time away on a realistic budget. Set an amount you’re willing to spend and how long you can manage to away for and then start investigating options. Planning a cruise can be part of the fun!</span></p> <p><strong>Cruisey options</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Is your goal to simply put your feet up, relax and enjoy some great food and wine? Or are you looking for your next big action adventure? Some cruise companies such as the Holland America are very traditional and offer classy events such as classic afternoon tea’s and ballroom dancing. Other cruise companies such as P&amp;O offer active activities like high rope swings, laser tag, slack lines, Segway options and more. Ensure you investigate special activities offered on board before booking to find a cruise option to suit you.</span></p> <p><strong>Destinations</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One of the most important considerations when choosing a cruise is the ports you’ll be experiencing. Be aware that not all itineraries are guaranteed as unforeseen circumstances such as weather can prevent a ships ability to get to a port. To ensure you are covered pick a cruise with a variety of destinations you’ll be happy to visit.</span></p> <p><strong>All inclusive </strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cruises are either all-inclusive, part-inclusive or pay as you go. Often food is included however, alcohol usually isn’t. Getting into the habit of a morning walk after a buffet breakfast means you can enjoy the fresh air and not feel guilty about having some extra bacon. Most cruises also provide a ship credit card which is linked to your bank account to pay for expenses on board. There is an option to put a daily limit on your card so you don’t overspend. It can be a lot of fun to enjoy buffet style food and an option of different restaurants and never have to reach for your wallet.</span></p> <p><strong>Go cruising</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are options galore! Cruises can go from anything from three days to many months. If you haven’t been on a cruise before try a couple of weeks at sea first off. It is a great excuse to enjoy a longer cruise next time.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/setting-sail-how-to-pick-the-perfect-cruise.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></em></p>

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Are you ready for a seachange?

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It’s a dream for many to get closer to nature and away from the stress of urban living by working or retiring in that quiet, idyllic coastal town or to that quaint country cottage – also known as a ‘treechange’. But to do this successfully and without hiccup takes some careful consideration and planning.</span></p> <p><strong>Pros of making a seachange</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Obviously the ability to de-stress in a more natural environment is one of the major drawcards of the seachange, but there’s also the advantage of small-town community spirit, which is becoming increasingly elusive in the city.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Housing on the coast or in the country can be much more affordable, freeing up funds for your retirement. There’s also the environmental advantage of less pollution, less noise, clean air, less traffic and generally lower living costs.</span></p> <p><strong>Cons of making a seachange</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There is always the possibility of feeling a little socially isolated now that you are further away from your family and friends. You may find yourself struggling for things to do now that you are away from the activities and amenities that are more varied and accessible in the city.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Getting access to quality medical attention may be more challenging. You may find the ‘small-town’ closeness and mentality difficult to adjust to. You may find longer travelling times to shops, etc. irritating.</span></p> <p><strong>Top tips for a successful sea or treechange</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Test the waters – spend an extended period of time in a holiday rental in your chosen seachange destination before you make a property purchase</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Keep a city pad – If you can afford it, it might pay to keep a small unit in the city, especially if you plan on making regular visits back to the city, or in case it turns out the seachange is not for you</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Meet the locals – you need to make an effort to get to know the people in the community and join in community events or organisations if possible. This will make the transition far more enjoyable and fulfilling</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Carefully consider the location – is it close enough to a large regional hospital? Do you still want to be within a reasonable distance from a capital city or not? Are there local organisations/amenities to support your personal interests/hobbies?</span></p> <p><strong>Top Seachange Locations in Australia:</strong></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Geraldton, WA</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Warrnambool, VIC</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mornington Peninsula, VIC</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Gerringong, NSW</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Nelson Bay, NSW</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ballina, NSW</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Gold Coast, QLD</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Noosa, QLD</span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Remember a seachange is not for everyone, so don’t be disappointed if it turns out the grass is not necessarily greener.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Danielle Cesta. Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/property/are-you-ready-for-a-sea-change.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></em></p>

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Get the inside scoop to Switzerland's Lake Geneva region

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Home to amazing Swiss food and wine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, world-renowned events and some of Europe’s most spectacular sceneries, Switzerland’s Lake Geneva Region has a lot more to boast than just watches and chocolate - the usual suspects that spring to mind when it comes to this French speaking region of the country.</span></p> <p><strong>The scenery</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Surrounded by majestic snow-capped mountains that roll into rows of verdant vineyard-covered slopes, there really is no bad angle when it comes to Lake Geneva.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Along the expansive shoreline you’ll find beautiful old towns and villages decorated with multi-coloured geraniums as well as well-preserved cobbled streets. It all adds to the unique charm of this region and keeps history standing still. However, subtle modern elements creep in here and there so you won’t forget you’re still in the 21st century. The contrast of old and new is what makes a visit to this region truly eclectic.</span></p> <p><strong>Activities</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One of the major highlights and events of the region is the Montreux Jazz festival, where thousands of jazz lovers descend on the shores to soak in the Swiss summer and enjoy the tunes of the world’s most popular music legends.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Down the road is Vevey, gateway to the breathtakingly beautiful Lavaux vineyards. Take in a World UNESCO Heritage Site, while savouring the extraordinary flavours of the region. As Swiss wines are not generally exported due to limited produce, the exclusivity of the produce only adds to the allure.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you simply can't eat and drink any more, then a visit to the Olympic Museum in the historical city of Lausanne is sure to impress any sport lover.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The story of the Olympics from the very beginning until today has been painstakingly documented and is presented in an exciting way – worth a visit they say!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To learn more about attractions in the Lake Geneva Region and Switzerland, visit </span><a href="https://www.myswitzerland.com/en/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">myswitzerland.com.</span></a></p> <p><strong>Fact file</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The best way to see and experience Switzerland is with a Swiss Pass, which entitles the holder to hop onto any train, bus or boat during the duration of the visit. The Pass also allows the holder free entry to more than 470 museums around the country and 50% discounts on mountain peak rails. Visit myswitzerland.com/rail for more information.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/inside-scoop-to-switzerlands-lake-geneva-region.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></em></p>

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Explore the southern spice trail of India

<p>The southern spice trail of India offers aromatic plants and scents – temples, history, fragrant curries, plenty of cows and the odd elephant. Bev Malzard explores.</p> <p>‘India is a land of contrasts.’ These are the words I read when I first heard about India in primary school. I missed the hippie trail through India in the late 70s and somehow it missed my ‘trip list’ for the next 30 years. It’s a long time since the 70s and I am no longer young and fearless – I don’t have the time to meander on a spiritual journey, nor can I laze around a beach for weeks.</p> <p>Playing it safe, but not too safe, I opted for a guided tour through the southern part of India, with companions from the UK – all aged from late 50s to 70s. These were tough, hardened travellers, who had been everywhere and adapted to India as soon as the first cow strolled in front of our coach and nearly sent us off the road. My kind of people.</p> <p>We were on the Cosmos Tours Kerala &amp; Spice Route trip. This extraordinary trip has left me with a montage of memories, all compartmentalised as it wasn’t a seamless 15 days; there were stops, starts and surprises along the way. For two days we drove through small towns and villages that were so crowded that I wondered how the human spirit could breathe, then open, brilliant green paddy fields appeared with workers dotted on the shivery landscape; a multi-storied steel and glass building branded with the IT neon success story flashed itself on the side of a highway, and beside it stood broken houses, businesses of broken dreams and rubbish piled high against the near and present future of India.</p> <p>Following are my memory chip postcards of India, and if my brain doesn’t go into the daily details of life here – all I see is colour.</p> <p><strong>Temples, temples, temples</strong><br />The southern spice trail in India offers more than arom<br />atic plants and scents – temples, history, fragrant curries, cows and more cows plus the odd elephant village. It is the site of the first British settlement in 1639. There are buildings here that smack of the British Raj; Portuguese churches; and more Hindu temples than you can poke an incense stick at.</p> <p>Temples and precious sites visited, with the amazing ancient carvings and script include: Mahabalipuram, UNESCO World Heritage site showcasing some of India’s finest rock art and architecture. See the Five Rathas, Sarjuna’s Penance and Shore temple; Kanchipuram, one of the 11 sacred sites of India; the Dakshinachitra heritage centre; the 16th century Church of Our Lady of Expectations; the basilica of San Thome and the gardens of the Theosophical Society, a vast campus of rambling pathways and countless trees.</p> <p>After a long day’s drive on highways to hell with roadside rubbish gobbling up all strips of nature and seeing crumbling half-finished buildings, we arrived in the immaculate seaside town of Pondicherry.</p> <p>Two thousand years ago the Romans traded on the shores; the Portuguese arrived in 1521 and by the 17th century the French had purchased the town, only relinquishing it in 1954. I wandered along one of the avenues with shade trees and neat houses, only to watch an elephant and its mahout cross the street in front of me – another day in the life of!</p> <p>As we made our way up to the Cardamom Hills we could see the exquisite beauty of the mountains and enjoy fragrant, clear air, redolent with the scents of spices and sweet breezes. A walk into the small town of Thekkady included lots of stops to look at boutiques selling saris, good fashion items, jewellery and some well-made souvenirs.</p> <p>From the foot of the beautiful Nilgiri Hills we began the steep and winding road looking down over the rolling plantations of tea. The entire town of Ooty was built by the British, and there’s a good legacy of guesthouses and hotels for the 21st century visitor.</p> <p>For fun take a ride on the Ooty ‘toy train’. This little wooden train runs most days but is subject to weather, elephants on the track, the odd landslide and rain. You choof through green hills to Coonoor, the old ‘summer capital’ of Madras. At 2240m above sea level, the air is clean, the monkeys are plentiful and the jacaranda trees and colourful lantana a sight for shining eyes.</p> <p>And for something completely different hop onboard a houseboat to ply the backwaters – Cochin in Kerala. The houseboats took about eight people and we each separated to our own vessels. <br />We were served fine curries particular to this region with fresh fruit following. A heavy sleep and back on shore saw most people a little sad at leaving the houseboats.</p> <p>And it’s like that leaving India. I was a little sad, as I didn’t think I had understood it well enough – I didn’t have enough time. But hey, as the distance between us grows, my memories are growing fonder and I’m getting a bit more of a handle on things – but maybe I’m not. It doesn’t matter really. India goes from the sublime to the incredulous – and long may it stay that way.</p> <p>Remember India is not for the fainthearted, best to be under the guidance of a reliable company.</p> <p><strong>Useful links:</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.thaiairways.com/en/index.page">www.thaiairways.com</a></p> <p><em>Written by Bev Malzard. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/explore-the-southern-spice-trail-of-india.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a> </em></p>

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Vientiane, Laos - the city of charm

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Laos is not one of the new, bright young things to take the international travel scene by storm: It has made its move by stealthily edging its way into a few traveller’s itineraries and, more so, into their hearts.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Flying in from Vietnam via Cambodia, we landed in the capital city of Laos, Vientiane, a modest and charming little city that resembles a sprawling collection of villages. Vientiane (translated as ‘sandalwood city’) dates from the 10th century. Vientiane is a small city that oozes charm; it’s a laid-back capital that is clean, inviting and a little bit fancy. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It’s not what you expect of a capital city; it is quiet, with ordered lanes and tree-lined boulevards, majestic Buddhist temples, loved but shabby monasteries, unhurried traffic and smiling, shy people.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Laotian temples have their own characteristics and even though some appear ‘shabby chic’ on the outside, it’s an inside job with a wealth of spiritual atmosphere. One of the oldest sights of the capital is Wat Sisaket with 10,136 miniature Buddha statues in the walls of the city’s oldest surviving monastery. The temple complex was built in 1818 and when the Thais sacked the city in the 1820s they left it alone.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After Wat Sisaket, wander around town for a coffee – Laotian coffee is brilliant – enjoyed with a delicate pastry, a legacy of French colonialism. Then off to absorb the beauty of Luang Stupa, the gold-tipped national monument representing both the Buddhist religion in Cambodia and the Laos sovereignty.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It was while I was mooching around the sweeping entrance that I noticed an odd, local phenomenon. There were lots of men walking around asking foreign visitors if they wanted their pictures taken. In this digital age, it surprised me and I thought the guys wouldn’t get any business at all. But they were one ( with well-shod with cowboy boots) step ahead of me. Strapped to their waists were portable printers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So, click for the picture, and click for an image and voila, nice picture, good background and ‘only one US dollar please’. Bargain! The urban cowboys were out in force wearing faux foreign correspondent vests and cowboy hats as they strutted around the gorgeous Patuxay Monument known as Vientiane’s Arc de Triomphe. It’s so decorative, a sight to behold with its Lao friezes from Buddhist mythology.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The structure is at the end of the grand Lang Xang Avenue. Stroll around the laid-back city and pass crumbling colonial mansions, immaculate shopfronts, hidden gardens and bamboo thatched beer gardens on the riverbank. Explore the hidden lanes running off the main streets and discover French-style bakeries and noodle and sticky rice vendors.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Most of the main attractions of town are concentrated in the tightknit commercial district where you’ll find the museums and squares with a variety of fine restaurants.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Fountain Square has the charm of an old-fashioned village green and is surrounded by compact eateries including Italian and Thai restaurants and a Scandinavian bakery.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Vientiane is a lovely little city that invites you to turn up and stay for a few days. There’s much to uncover and enjoy here, and who knows, those urban cowboys could win your heart – for ‘only one US dollar’.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The writer flew to Laos with Vietnam Airlines.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">This story first appeared in </span><a href="http://getupandgo.com.au/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Get Up &amp; Go Magazine</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> and has been edited.</span></em></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Writtenby Bev Malzard. Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/vientiane,-laos-the-city-of-charm.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></em></p>

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What you didn’t know about the Philippines

<p>The Philippines has more than 7641 lush tropical islands surrounded by turquoise water. For years, this incredible destination has gone under the radar. But Australian travellers are starting to take note.</p> <p> “It’s an incredible destination that is perfect for Australians’ considering their love of adventure, travel and passion for discovering unexplored destinations,” Norjamin Delos Reyes, Tourism Attaché at Philippine Department of Tourism Australia and New Zealand says.</p> <p>“Our lush, tropical backdrops, stunning sunsets, and dreamy tropical beaches make the Philippines one of the most exotic holiday destinations.</p> <p>“As a destination, it is still relatively undiscovered and offers unparalleled value, so there’s no better time to get to know our tropical archipelago, world-renowned for its abundance of beauty, wildlife and bio-diversity.”</p> <p>Here are 10 things you may not know about the Philippines according to Norjamin:</p> <p>1. The Philippines officially has 7641 islands. The number increased in 2018 when more islands were officially recognised and counted.</p> <p>2. We are a county of smiling, highly skilled, English-speaking people. Don’t be shy about approaching a Filipino and starting a conversation. We’re not just fun, we’re officially friendly too. Forbes.com ranked the Philippines as the friendliest country in Asia and the eighth friendliest place in the world.</p> <p>3. The Philippines is officially home to the ‘Best Islands in the World’, with the stunning destination’s islands consistently recognised in the highly acclaimed Conde Nast Traveller’s Readers’ Choice. In October 2018, the awards were categorised into regions, with the Philippines scooping the top three best islands in Asia: Siargo, Boracay and Palawan were listed respectively.</p> <p>4. The Philippines was also named ‘Asia’s Leading Beach Destination 2018’ at the prestigious World Travel Awards.</p> <p>5. The Philippines offers excellent value for money, with a bottle of beer only $1.</p> <p>6. The town of Vigan in the province of Ilocos Sur was officially inaugurated as one of the Seven Wonder Cities of the World in May 2015.</p> <p>7. The Philippines is the heart of marine biodiversity. The Philippines archipelago is located within the Coral Triangle and has 76 per cent of the world’s coral species, six of the world’s seven marine turtle species and at least 2,228 reef fish species.</p> <p>8. The ‘It’s more fun in the Philippines’ marketing campaign, stemmed from a single question asked to the Department of Tourism ‘why would a tourist want to come to the Philippines?’</p> <p>9. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the new Seven Wonders of Nature.</p> <p>10. The Philippines was named in honour of King Philip II of Spain. Spanish explorer Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, during his expedition in 1542, named the islands of Leyte and Samar Felipinas after the then Prince of Asturias. Eventually, the name Las Islas Filipinas would be used to cover all the island of the archipelago.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/philippines-facts/">MyDiscoveries.</a> </em></p>

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You must try these 5 unforgettable Fiji experiences

<p>With a bounty of natural and cultural marvels, Fiji is more than just a place to stop and flop on the sand. These five unforgettable experiences highlight Fiji’s most tempting offerings – unique animal encounters, breathtaking scenery, tantalising cuisine and a touch of luxury.</p> <p><strong>Swim with sea life </strong></p> <p>Every swim in Fiji’s sparkling South Pacific waters redefines the colour blue. Known as the “soft coral capital of the world”, the islands of Fiji are brimming with opportunities to go below the surface. And you don’t need to be a seasoned deep sea diver to experience it. Swimming and snorkelling should be fun, leisurely activities where you can go at your own pace. In Fiji, this is what it’s all about. </p> <p>Fiji’s pristine beaches mean you can grab a snorkel and head straight out to explore the reefs just offshore. Most hotels and resorts will have snorkeling equipment to hire. Otherwise, you can often purchase it from the general store fairly inexpensively. For guaranteed sightings of vibrant coral and colourful fish, organising a day trip will be your best bet. </p> <p>Beqa Island Lagoon off the coast of Viti Levu is a great place for beginners. The protected reef boasts thousands of exoitic fish and anemones with regular sightings of turtles, giant clams and sharks. This is also where you can opt for a truly unique, though slightly terrifying experience. Feel the thrill and majesty of swimming side by side with the ocean’s most formidable creatures. Shark Reef Marine Reserve was established in order to study and preserve the population of sharks of Fiji’s coral coast, and now offers gutsy visitors a chance to get in the water with them. </p> <p>Would you prefer a swimming buddy with less teeth? Head to Naviti in the Yasawa Islands for the chance to swim with Manta Rays. At the south end of the island, Manta Ray passage is teeming with these velvety creatures, gliding through the water. To watch them from above is breathtaking. To swim alongside them is something else entirely. Be sure to visit during Manta season, between May and October.</p> <p><strong>Discover the islands from above</strong></p> <p>If you’re lucky enough to fly in during the day, you’ll get an entrée of what Fiji’s 330 islands look like from above. For a full course, it’s worth booking a scenic helicopter flight.</p> <p>Fiji has dozens of helicopter tour companies so do your research and choose an operator with a good safety record. Opting for a Fijian-owned and run company is a nice way to ensure your tourist dollars go towards empowering and supporting the local community. </p> <p>A popular flight route takes you on an aerial tour of Denarau, the largest integrated resort in the South Pacific. You’ll see the lush landscapes and perfectly maintained gardens of some of the biggest luxury resort chains in the South Pacific. </p> <p>Heading further inland, discover Fiji’s overgrown jungles and striking mountain landscapes. Soaring above the Mt. Evans Range, expect to see rugged volcanic formations, pockets of wild orchids and spectacular waterfalls.</p> <p>Perhaps the most popular scenic flight is the joy ride to Heart Island. Home to Tavarua Island Resort, this heart-shaped island is surrounded by balmy waters with pumping surf breaks. Each year, surfers come from all over the world flock to this heart-shaped island to take on Cloudbreak. </p> <p>Scenic helicopter flights can be expensive, but are often a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Most resorts will have a handful of preferred tour companies they recommend to their guests. You can also organise scenic flights independently, or in advance through a travel agent. </p> <p><strong>Spend a day at the spa</strong></p> <p>Nothing says “holiday” like a relaxing spa treatment. Visitors to Fiji are spoilt for choice when it comes to getting pampered. Each resort will often have its own on-site spa, and some even offer in-room treatments so you don’t even have to go anywhere to receive a fabulous massage. </p> <p>One of Fiji’s most renowned luxury spas can be found at Yasawa Island Resort. The Bavari Spa is essentially set on the sand, with double doors opening up to a pristine, private beach. The signature treatment is a four-handed Bavari Rhythm massage which entails two masseuses working out all your knots and melting away your troubles in smooth, synchronised movements. </p> <p>Another highly-recommended outfit is the Sheraton Resort and Spa on Tokoriki Island. It’s one of the largest day spas in Fiji and is part of an adults-only island for the utmost relaxation and tranquility. Try the Fijian Warm Seashell Ritual. As the name suggests, this treatment uses locally-sourced shells to deliver a glorious massage with the help of sought-after <em>Pure Fiji</em> spa products. </p> <p>Some resorts offers complimentary massages as an added bonus, and others have great deals that include a spa treatment as part of your package. Prices will vary between locations, but visitors will find a range of affordable day spas on Denarau and Viti Levu, as well as a host of up-market outfits in the luxury resorts. You don’t need to be a guest of a resort to utilise their day spa but bookings are essential. </p> <p><strong>Take a cooking class</strong></p> <p>Fijian food is a family affair at its core. The act of cooking and eating together is central to the local way of life, not unlike Australia, However, the methods and flavours are unique to Fiji and vary from island to island. </p> <p>Visitors have a number of cooking schools to choose from when visiting Fiji. One highly-rated outfit is the Flavors of Fiji Cooking School in Nadi. Begin with a tour of Nadi’s thriving vegetable market, where you’ll pick out fresh produce to take back and turn into something tasty. Back at the nearby school, you’ll learn to cook up to eight local specialties under the guidance of experienced Fijian foodies. You’ll head home with a full belly, loads of recipes and a newfound love of cooking. </p> <p>Many resorts also offer their own cooking classes. Some are run by the chefs of the restaurants, and others bring in instructors from the local community to teach traditional Fijian cooking methods. At an all-inclusive resort, this is often a free activity. Otherwise, it may come at an additional cost. </p> <p><strong>Explore the rainforests on foot</strong></p> <p>Fiji’s color scheme is dominated by breathtaking blues and golden sands, but there’s another hue that is hard to miss. Thick forests and undulating jungles showcase every shade of green you can imagine. From sweeping valleys to towering mountain ranges, Fiji’s wilderness areas are unlike any other. That’s not to say you need to take on the most challenging hike and spend your entire holiday out of breath. Some of the most scenic walking routes are also the most leisurely. </p> <p>A trip to Tavoro Falls is not to be missed. Located in Bouma National Heritage Park on the island of Taveuni, this jungle hike encompasses a series of waterfalls with a few challenging stretches along the way. From the final vantage point, the views out to neighbouring islands are well worth the effort.</p> <p>The Sigatoka Sand Dunes offer an interesting hiking experience. Spread across 600 hectares, some of the dunes stand as high as 60 metres tall. Choose between a one or two-hour trail, discovering the excavated sites of the early Lapita people and the fascinating surrounds of Fiji’s first national park. </p> <p>You can also enjoy a stroll through the botanical gardens in Lautoka and learn about the medicinal uses of Fiji’s native flora.</p> <p><em>Written by Bethany Plint. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/fiji-experiences/">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

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Here are New Zealand’s best natural hot springs

<p>New Zealand is renowned for its geothermal activity and across the land you’ll find various heated waterways safe for wallowing in.</p> <p>New Zealand’s beautiful beaches and waterways are a major attraction and, turning up the temperature from just plain cool to steamy, some of the best soaking spots boast heated water – and, even better, no-one has to pay the electricity bill because nature provides the power.</p> <p><strong>Hot Water Beach, Coromandel</strong></p> <p>Two hours either side of low tide, Hot Water Beach (aka Te Puia) fills up with visitors eager to dig their own spa pools in the sand. On the Coromandel Peninsula between Tairua and Whitianga, this thermal sandpit is a star attraction, with temperatures ranging from tepid to scalding.</p> <p>Either dig with your hands or hire a spade and, while it’s perfectly fun to soak here in summer, on a cold winter’s day it’s hard to beat. At night, when the moon is out and the stars are twinkling, it’s utterly heavenly. But do be warned, the open sea can be rugged so less experienced swimmers must take extra special care.</p> <p><strong>Travel tip:</strong> Hot Water beach is 2.5 hours’ drive from Auckland – make sure you don’t forget your swimming costume and towel. When you’ve had enough of those thermal charms, choose from one of the cafés, but note that many do close during the winter. Nearby Hahei has eateries, a brewery, bicycle hire and kayak tours. The area is also home to Cathedral Cove – a spectacular natural archway and a marine reserve that is popular with snorkellers. Explore on your own or take advantage of various tour companies offering excursions.</p> <p><strong>Te Rata Bay, Lake Tarawera</strong></p> <p>On the southern shore of Rotorua’s Lake Tarawera, Te Rata Bay (also referred to as Hot Water Beach) is understandably popular. Fringed with pohutukawa trees and alive with native birds, as well as wild wallabies, the thermal vents on this beach help keep campers’ coffee hot while they roast their daily catch in sandpits.</p> <p><strong>Travel tip</strong>: Accessible by boat or via a fabulous five-hour bush walk (the 15km Tarawera Trail), you’ll need to plan ahead to visit the beach. If you plan to stay overnight at the campground (or glamp it) you must book, and stock up on supplies as there are no shops. Happily, water taxis are easy to arrange through Totally Tarawera, with plenty of options for enjoying this area either overnight or as part of a day-trip.</p> <p><strong>Kaitoke Hot Springs, Great Barrier Island</strong></p> <p>The largest and furthest-flung island in the Hauraki Gulf, Great Barrier/Aotea is 90km from Auckland. A rugged rock that’s completely off-grid, it tends to attract a capable sort of citizen.</p> <p>Renowned for unspoiled beaches, impressive wildlife and rich history, it’s also home to a picturesque thermal pool. Kaitoke Hot Springs is an easy, pram-friendly 45-minute walk from Whangaparapara Road. But be sure to take any provisions you need with you, as aside from two long-drop lavatories, this beautiful spot is completely non-commercial.</p> <p><strong>Travel Tip</strong>: Isolated Great Barrier/Aotea Island is popular with visitors who enjoy fishing, surfing, hiking and anything to do with nature. Recently awarded International Dark Sky Sanctuary status, be sure to look heavenward after dark when the stars astonish. Accessible by a 30-minute flight or a five-hour ferry ride, there’s plenty of accommodation and a reasonable selection of eateries (although you’re wise to take some food). Be sure to allow a good few days to get to grips with all the island has to offer.</p> <p><strong>Kawhia Ocean Beach, Waikato</strong></p> <p>Less crowded than Coromandel’s Hot Water Beach, hot springs can be found at Kawhia’s Ocean Beach for two hours either side of low tide.</p> <p>Steeped in history, Kawhia is where the Tainui waka (one of the original canoes carrying the first Polynesians) came to rest after its epic trans-Pacific voyage, and today is a sleepy little spot, far from the madding crowds and all the better for it. If you’re not sure where to dig to gain access to the steaming seams, a friendly local will show you the way. But be warned, because this is a black sand beach, it can really heat up in summer, so don’t forget your shoes.</p> <p><strong>Travel tip</strong>: Kawhia is a peaceful King Country town 200km from Auckland. It offers accommodation (including a campground), a museum, a couple of cafés, a general store and a fish and chips shop. Popular with history buffs, fossil fans and fisher people, it’s heavenly all year round. And do experience the cooler charms of nearby Waitomo Caves if time allows.</p> <p><strong>Welcome Flat Hot Pools</strong></p> <p>Just 20km south of Fox Glacier you’ll find Welcome Flat Hot Pools, near a conveniently positioned DOC (Department of Conservation) hut. Surrounded by snowy peaks and forest, there are several temperature options with even the fussiest bathers catered for – provided they don’t mind mud.</p> <p>The pools are accessed via the Copland Track, which is 18km one way (it takes about seven hours to complete), so ensure you book ahead for one of the 31 beds in the DOC hut. Of course, you’ll need to take your food, sleeping bag and swimming suit as well. It’s open year round, so pack for the conditions and keep an eye on weather reports.</p> <p><strong>Travel tip</strong>: Welcome Flat is found in South Westland in the South Island, four hours’ drive from Queenstown or six hours’ from Christchurch. The Fox Glacier region is bursting with tourist highlights, from kayak tours to scenic flights. The Hobnail Café and Souvenir Shop is a great spot to refuel, Gillespies Beach is grand if you’re into geology, rainforest and seals, and always look out for the kea, New Zealand’s cheeky parrot.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/new-zealand-best-natural-hot-springs/"><em>Mydiscoveries.com.au.</em></a></p>

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