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Airbus again becomes the world’s leading aircraft manufacturer

<p>After eight years of Boeing leadership, Airbus has again become the world’s leading aircraft manufacturer. The European group surpassed <a href="https://www.aerospace-technology.com/comment/airbus-boeing-aircraft-top/">1,000 aircraft orders in 2019</a> and broke its record of aircraft delivered with <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-airbus-deliveries-exclusive/exclusive-airbus-beats-goal-with-863-jet-deliveries-in-2019-ousts-boeing-from-top-spot-idUSKBN1Z01Q8">863 units</a>. By comparison, Boeing delivered a <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/01/02/boeinhttps:/www.aerospace-technology.com/comment/airbus-boeing-aircraft-top/g-surrenders-crown-worlds-biggest-plane-maker-airbus-737/">mere 345</a>.</p> <p>The A320, launched in 1988, became the bestselling aircraft of all time, outnumbering the Boeing 737, which is 20 years older. In addition, from January 2020, Boeing suspended production of the 737 Max, once a bestseller but currently banned from flying because of <a href="https://theconversation.com/boeing-737-max-air-safety-market-pressures-and-cockpit-technology-113580">two crashes in October 2018 and March 2019</a>.</p> <p>According to Airbus commercial director Christian Scherrer, Boeing’s difficulties are <a href="https://aviationweek.com/air-transport/airbus-not-benefiting-boeings-max-crisis-exec-says">not benefiting its European competitor</a> – the firm’s production capacity does not allow it to deliver new customers before four years. However, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-boeing-deliveries/boeing-orders-sink-as-customers-opt-to-swap-max-idUSKBN1XM24M">Airbus continues to accumulate orders</a>, including from customers once loyal to Boeing. In addition, it is likely that the 10% tax on aircraft imports into the United States is a <a href="https://www.tourmag.com/Christian-Scherrer-Airbus-Passer-de-la-batterie-a-la-production-d-electricite-embarquee-_a101632.html">direct result of Boeing’s troubles</a>.</p> <p>Suppliers General Electric and Safran have been heavily affected by the 737 Max crisis, an aircraft exclusively equipped with the LEAP engine that they co-developed. The joint subsidiary CFM International has <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/ge-agrees-on-deal-to-build-more-airbus-engines-to-help-offset-max-shutdown-11576860015">negotiated with Airbus</a> to increase the percentage of A320neo aircraft that use this engine to compensate for the losses associated with the 737 Max. Hundreds of European suppliers that also work for Airbus are also <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/016189b4-6dac-11e9-80c7-60ee53e6681d">financially affected</a>.</p> <p>Presentation of the LEAP (Leading Edge Aviation Propulsion) high-bypass turbofan that power A320neo airplanes.</p> <p><strong>Relative successes for Airbus</strong></p> <p>Although 2019 was marked by the end of the A380, considered a <a href="https://theconversation.com/airbus-a380-from-high-tech-marvel-to-commercial-flop-112086">commercial flop</a>, Airbus has exceeded the symbolic mark of the 20,000 planes sold since its creation. The company also won many battles against Boeing last year. The A320, A320neo, A321, A321neo and A350 models are particularly popular with airlines. <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/samuelengel1/2019/12/18/uniteds-new-aircraft-order-nudges-boeing-and-airbus-toward-environmental-sustainability/#624f31304199">The A321 XLR is part of a sustainable development strategy</a>: it consumes a third less of kerosene, which gives it a much greater radius of action and reduces costs per passenger.</p> <p>The A321 XLR will replace the A380 on the aircraft market.</p> <p>United Airlines ordered <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelgoldstein/2019/12/04/united-airlines-to-buy-50-ultra-long-range-airbus-a321xlr-aircraft-in-estimated-6-billion-deal/">50 ultra-long-haul Airbus A321 XLRs</a> for about $6 billion. These aircraft are intended to replace Boeing 757s and are expected to enter service in 2024. Thanks to this innovative plane, which as presented by Airbus at the <a href="https://theconversation.com/aeronautique-la-menace-sino-russe-plane-sur-le-duopole-airbus-boeing-118638">2019 Paris Air Show</a>, the company will be able to reduce significantly its carbon footprint and <a href="https://www.aviationtoday.com/2019/12/05/united-airlines-buying-airbus-a321xlrs-replace-boeing-757-fleet/">benefit from the long-range capabilities to add new destinations</a>.</p> <p>Cebu Pacific Air, the leading airline in the Philippines, confirmed an order for <a href="https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/philippines--cebu-air-orders-15-a320neo-jets--pushing-airbus-toward-sales-milestone-12196784">five A320neo and ten A321 XLR on December 19</a>, after having finalized another of 16 A330neo, which makes a total of 21 aircraft for approximately $6.8 billion in 2019. This is nothing compared to the <a href="https://www.airbus.com/newsroom/press-releases/en/2019/10/indigo-signs-for-300-a320neo-family-aircraft.html">record order from one of the fastest-growing airlines in the world</a>: the low-cost Indian company IndiGo. In October, it ordered 300 A320s, including several A321 XLRs, worth $33 billion. When delivered, IndiGo will reach a total of 730 A320s, making it the <a href="https://www.aerotime.aero/rytis.beresnevicius/24127-indigo-300-airbus-a320-aircraft-order">largest customer for this model</a>.</p> <p>Airbus has also been <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/business-50753718">selected by Quantas</a> to operate the longest flight in the world: 20 hours to cover the 10,500 miles (17,000 km) between London and Sydney. In December 2019, after launching a tender to the two manufacturers, Quantas announced that it was choosing the A350-1000 rather than the Boeing 777X.</p> <p>New touch-screens cockpit displays in Airbus A350 XWB.</p> <p>Airbus’s situation seems solid and the future looks bright. The group may hire between 1,500 and <a href="https://www.en24.news/2020/01/toulouse-airbus-expected-to-hire-nearly-2000-people.html">2,000 people in France, and potentially 5,000 worldwide</a>. The group has exceeded US$100 billion in market valuation, Airbus shares rose 59% in 2019](https://www.lefigaro.fr/conjoncture/ces-entreprises-qui-font-flamber-le-cac-40-20191229) and the company begins 2020 at the top of the French stock market index CAC40.</p> <p>Still, Airbus’s leadership position <a href="https://www.aerospace-technology.com/comment/airbus-boeing-aircraft-top/">remains fragile</a>. If <a href="https://www.aerospace-technology.com/comment/airbus-boeing-aircraft-top/">the symbolic threshold of 1,000 aircraft ordered</a> may seem satisfactory, it is already the sixth time that the group has exceeded it, and this remains well below <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/industry/10580384/How-Britain-lifts-Airbus-to-record-sales-high.html">the record set in 2013 with 1,503 orders</a>. Production is <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/airbus-slashes-delivery-target-as-it-struggles-with-production-woes-11572417894">struggling to keep up with sales</a>, as the most popular models are victims of their success. Some current deliveries are late and the increase from 60 to 63 aircraft per month between 2019 and 2021 will not significantly improve things.</p> <p><strong>A multidimensional crisis for Boeing</strong></p> <p>Boeing is currently going through the <a href="https://www.flightglobal.com/analysis/why-boeing-faces-worst-crisis-in-its-history/135000.article">worst crisis since it was founded</a> in 1916. This crisis is deep, lasting and multidimensional. Above all, it is a reputational crisis, the group having entered a spiral of failures and an era of suspicion. Multiple charges of negligence and willful intention to deceive the authorities could be confirmed by <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/12/24/boeing-reveals-new-very-disturbing-documents-737-max-jetliner-faa-house/2743402001/">internal documents transmitted to the US Congress</a> in December 2019.</p> <p>Boeing to halt 737 Max production after damaged reputation.</p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/boeing-737-max-air-safety-market-pressures-and-cockpit-technology-113580">After two 737 Max crashes</a> that left 346 dead, many passengers have completely lost confidence in the plane: 40% of travelers are <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/when-will-boeing-737-max-fly-again-and-more-questions/2019/12/16/251d2b02-2039-11ea-b034-de7dc2b5199b_story.html">ready to pay more or take less practical flights</a> to avoid it. New theories question the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/05/business/boeing-737-max.html">safety of other software-independent parts</a> of the aircraft.</p> <p>The crisis is also technological, Boeing has had <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/22/the-year-that-changed-boeing-airplane-maker-struggles-to-regain-footing-since-first-737-max-crash.html">significant difficulties finding reliable solutions</a> to the various <a href="https://theconversation.com/boeing-737-max-air-safety-market-pressures-and-cockpit-technology-113580">dysfunctions</a> of its planes. This in turn led to an industrial crisis: after severely <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/boeing-studies-737-max-output-slowdown-among-scenarios-source-2019-4">slowing down the production</a> of the 737 Max, <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2019/12/16/21025081/boeing-737-max-production-halt-stop-crash-faa-airplane">Boeing stopped it completely</a> in January 2020. Although 12,000 people work directly in the production of the 737 Max, Boeing <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/06/boeing-reassigs-thousands-of-737-max-workers-while-supplier-spirit-mulls-layoffs.html">does not plan to lay off</a> workers for the time being. The consequences may be particularly difficult for the suppliers most dependent on Boeing to bear.</p> <p>Boeing also faces a legal crisis: <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-boeing-737max-lawsuit-board/lawsuit-against-boeing-seeks-to-hold-board-liable-for-737-max-problems-idUSKBN1XS2I3">lengthy and costly lawsuits</a> from victims and airlines could well further tarnish the company’s image. The financial consequences are already considerable with 10 billion euros of cash provisioned to deal with the direct and indirect consequences of the crashes. If the manufacturer had <a href="https://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/boeing-debt-raise-737-max">US$20 billion in funds a few months ago</a>, it would consider <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/boeing-considers-raising-debt-as-max-crisis-takes-toll-11578308401">increasing its debt by at least US$5 billion</a> to meet expected costs in the first half of 2020.</p> <p>Turkish Airlines reach 737 Max aircraft compensation deal from Boeing.</p> <p>To cope with the managerial dimension of the crisis, a financial expert, <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/georgebradt/2019/12/23/why-david-calhouns-onboarding-as-ceo-of-boeing-is-a-work-in-progress/#66ed9d754a32">David Calhoun, was chosen to succeed the engineer Dennis Muilenburg</a> as CEO of Boeing from January 13, 2020. Muilenburg was <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/457dfcf2-25dc-11ea-9a4f-963f0ec7e134">severely criticized for his handling of the crisis</a> and had to resign. Among other things, he was accused of not respecting the independence of air-transport regulatory authorities and not reacting quickly enough.</p> <p><strong>Major geopolitical issues</strong></p> <p>Naturally, Boeing’s difficulties and Airbus’ success are <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/06/business/boeing-airbus-world-trade-organization.html">not to the liking</a> of US president Donald Trump, who saw a <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2019/12/18/economy/boeing-gdp-impact/index.html">large part of the GDP of the United States evaporate</a>. The competition between the two has fueled the trade war between EU and US, which in October 2019 decided to apply a 10% tax on imports of European aircraft. Airbus management denounces an unfair decision directly linked to the current fragility of the Boeing group.</p> <p>WTO sides with US in Airbus subsidy case, allowing US to target $7.5B in EU imports.</p> <p>Airbus and Boeing must prepare for <a href="https://theconversation.com/aeronautique-la-menace-sino-russe-plane-sur-le-duopole-airbus-boeing-118638">the entry into the market of a strong competitor</a>. In 2017, the Chinese group Comac (Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China) and the Russian consortium UAC (United Aircraft Corporation) created the joint venture CRAIC (China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Corporation) in order to launch aircraft they claim are as <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZzbgfidzvI">efficient as those of Airbus and Boeing, but less expensive</a>.</p> <p>For presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, this alliance is part of a major strategic move toward <a href="https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/air-transport/2019-06-14/sino-russian-cr929-has-room-high-tech-input-west">Sino-Russian collaboration</a>. The friendship between the two presidents has led them to join forces against the United States and the trade policy of the government of Donald Trump. The <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZzbgfidzvI">CR929</a> will be a direct competitor to the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGIIGQPUecg">A350 and the B787</a>. With a budget of US$20 billion, this aircraft is scheduled to enter service between 2025 and 2028.</p> <p><em>Written by Oihab Allal-Chérif. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/airbus-again-becomes-the-worlds-leading-aircraft-manufacturer-129595">The Conversation.</a></em></p>

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Shaming people for flying won’t cut airline emissions – we need a smarter solution

<p> “Fake news”, the chief executive of Lufthansa <a href="https://simpleflying.com/lights%20ansa-ceo-flight-shaming-fake-news/">has called it</a>. But his counterpart at Air France calls it the airline industry’s “<a href="https://fortune.com/2019/11/18/flight-shame-air-france-anne-regail/">biggest challenge</a>”. So does the <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/business-50481107">president of Emirates</a>: “It’s got to be dealt with.”</p> <p>What they’re talking about is “<a href="https://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/flygskam-swedish-flying-shame-environment/11297138">flight shame</a>” – the guilt caused by the environmental impacts of air travel. Specifically, the carbon emissions.</p> <p>It’s the reason teen climate-change activist Greta Thunberg refused to fly to New York to address the United Nations Climate Action Summit in September, taking a <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-29/swedish-teen-greta-thunberg-un-summit-new-york-boat-arrival/11459966">14-day sea voyage</a> instead.</p> <p>In Thunberg’s native Sweden, flight shame (“<em>flygskam</em>”) has really taken off, motivating people to not take off. Last year 23% of Swedes reduced their air travel to shrink their carbon footprint, according to a <a href="https://www.wwf.se/pressmeddelande/wwfs-klimatbarometer-allt-fler-valjer-bort-flyg-och-kott-och-kvinnorna-gar-fore-3241404/">WWF survey</a>. Swedish airport operator Swedavia <a href="https://www.swedavia.com/about-swedavia/swedavias-newsroom/">reported</a> passenger numbers at its ten airports in October were down 5% on the previous year.</p> <p>The potency of this guilt is what put Lufthansa’s head, Carsten Spohr, on the defensive at <a href="https://simpleflying.com/lufthansa-ceo-flight-shaming-fake-news/">an aviation industry conference</a> in Berlin in November.</p> <p> “Airlines should not have to be seen as a symbol of climate change. That’s just fake news,” he declared. “Our industry contributes 2.8% of global CO₂ emissions. As I’ve asked before, how about the other 97.2%? Are they contributing to global society with as much good as we do? Are they reducing emissions as much as we do?”</p> <p>Does he have a point? Let’s consider the evidence.</p> <p><strong>How bad are aviation CO₂ emissions?</strong></p> <p>The <a href="https://theicct.org/publications/co2-emissions-commercial-aviation-2018">International Council on Clean Transportation</a> (the same organisation that exposed <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-volkswagen-got-caught-cheating-emissions-tests-by-a-clean-air-ngo-47951">Volkwagen’s diesel emissions fraud</a>), estimates commercial aviation accounted for 2.4% of all carbon emissions from fossil-fuel use in 2018.</p> <p>So it’s true many other <a href="https://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/daviz/change-of-co2-eq-emissions-2#tab-dashboard-01">sectors contribute more</a>.</p> <p>It is also true airlines are making efforts to reduce the amount of carbon they emit per passenger per kilometre. Australia’s aviation industry, for example, has reduced its “emissions intensity” by <a href="https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/aviation/environmental/emissions/files/Managing-the-Carbon-Footprint-of-Australian-Aviation.pdf">1.4% a year</a> since 2013.</p> <p>However, the ICCT estimates growth in passenger numbers, and therefore total flights, means total carbon emissions from commercial aviation have ballooned by 32% in five years, way faster <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/sep/19/airlines-co2-emissions-rising-up-to-70-faster-than-predicted">than UN predictions</a>. On that trajectory, the sector’s total emissions could triple by 2050.</p> <p><strong>Alternatives to fossil fuels</strong></p> <p>A revolution in aircraft design could mitigate that trajectory. The International Air Transport Association suggests the advent of hybrid electric aircraft propulsion (similar to how a hybrid car works, taking off and landing using electric power) by about 2030-35 could reduce fossil fuel consumption by up to 40%. Fully electric propulsion after that could eliminate fossil fuels completely.</p> <p>Even with the advent of electric airliners by mid-century, the huge cost and <a href="https://www.bts.gov/content/average-age-aircraft">long lifespan of commercial jets</a> means it could still take decades to wean fleets off fossil fuels.</p> <p>A shorter-term solution might be replacing fossil fuels with “sustainable aviation fuels” such as biofuels made from plant matter. But in 2018 just <a href="https://www.iea.org/commentaries/are-aviation-biofuels-ready-for-take-off">15 million litres of aviation biofuel</a> were produced – less than 0.1% of total aviation fuel consumption. The problem is it costs significantly more than standard kerosene-based aviation fuel. Greater use depends on the price coming down, or the price of fossil fuels going up.</p> <p><strong>Pricing carbon</strong></p> <p>This brings us to the role of economics in decarbonising aviation.</p> <p>An economist will tell you, for most goods the simplest way to reduce its consumption is to increase its price, or reduce the price of alternatives. This is the basis of all market-based solutions to reduce carbon emissions.</p> <p>One way is to impose a tax on carbon, the same way taxes are levied on alcohol and tobacco, to deter consumption as well as to raise revenue to pay the costs use imposes on society.</p> <p>The key problem with this approach is a government must guess at the price needed to achieve the desired reduction in demand. How the tax revenue <a href="https://energypolicy.columbia.edu/research/report/distributional-implications-carbon-tax">is spent</a>is also crucial to public acceptance.</p> <p>In France, <a href="https://www.sbs.com.au/news/the-fuel-tax-rise-is-dead-so-why-are-the-yellow-vests-protests-escalating-in-france">opposition to higher fuel taxes</a> led the government to instead announce an “<a href="https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/france-airline-eco-tax">eco-tax</a>” on flights.</p> <p>This proposed tax <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/ajimpact/france-eco-tax-flights-criticised-airlines-activists-190709143311915.html">will range from</a> €1.50 (about A$2.40) for economy flights within the European Union to €18 (about A$29.30) for business-class flights out of the EU. Among those who think this price signal is too low to <a href="https://www.wired.co.uk/article/plane-tax-eco-france-sweden">make any real difference </a> is Sam Fankhauser, director of the <a href="http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/">Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment</a> in London.</p> <p><strong>Trading and offsets</strong></p> <p>Greater outcome certainty is the reason many economists champion an emissions trading scheme (also known as “cap and trade”). Whereas a tax seeks to reduce carbon emissions by raising the price of emission, a trading scheme sets a limit on emissions and leaves it to the market to work out the price that achieves it.</p> <p>One advantage economists see in emissions trading is that it creates both disincentive and incentives. Emitters don’t pay a penalty to the government. They effectively pay other companies to achieve reductions on their behalf through the trade of “carbon credits”.</p> <p>The European Union already has an <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/ets_en">emissions trading scheme</a> that covers flights within the <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Glossary:European_Economic_Area_(EEA)">European Economic Area</a>, but it has been criticised for limiting incentives for companies to reduce emissions because they can cheaply buy credits, such as from overseas projects such as tree-planting schemes.</p> <p>This led to the paradox of scheme delivering a reported <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/ets/allowances/aviation_en">100 million tonnes</a> of “reductions/offsets” from Europe’s aviation sector between 2012 and 2018 even while the sector’s emissions <a href="https://www.eea.europa.eu/themes/climate/trends-and-projections-in-europe/trends-and-projections-in-europe-2019/the-eu-emissions-trading-system">increased</a>.</p> <p>A better solution might come from a well-designed international trading scheme. The basis for this may be the global agreement known as the <a href="https://www.icao.int/environmental-protection/CORSIA/Pages/default.aspx">Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation</a>. Already 81 countries, representing three-quarters of international aviation activity, have <a href="https://www.icao.int/environmental-protection/CORSIA/Pages/state-pairs.aspx">agreed to participate</a>.</p> <p>What seems clear is that guilt and voluntary action to reduce carbon emissions has its limits. This is suggested by the data from Sweden, the heartland of flight shame.</p> <p>Behind the 5% reduction in passenger numbers reported by Swedavia is a major difference between domestic passengers (down 10%) and international passengers (down just 2%). That might have something to do with the limited travel alternatives when crossing an ocean.</p> <p>For most of us to consider emulating Greta Thunberg by taking a sailboat instead, the price of a flight would have to be very high indeed.</p> <p><em>Written by Duygu Yengin and Tracey Dodd. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/shaming-people-for-flying-wont-cut-airline-emissions-we-need-a-smarter-solution-127257">The Conversation.</a> </em></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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Do this on an aeroplane to change how you fly

<p>Before you book your next trip, learn these insider tricks that will make flying a whole lot easier and more pleasant.</p> <p><strong>Travel like a local</strong></p> <p>Andy Abramson, the CEO of Comunicano who was named Business Traveller of the Year by <em>Business Traveller</em> magazine in 2015, suggests always using local SIM cards in mobile phones to get better speeds, connectivity and quality. “Uploads of photos go faster; if you need to be on a conference call, the quality is always better, as you are connecting locally to the provider’s point of presence; and there’s no need to buy any add-on bundles from your local carrier,” he says. You can get a SIM card at most local and international airports.</p> <p><strong>Sign up for free business programs</strong></p> <p>If you have a business – even if it’s not incorporated or profitable – sign up for airline’s free business rewards programs, Suro advises. You’ll get points every time you or your employees fly, which are over and above your frequent-flyer miles. Suro says that you can redeem those points for free flights, lounge access, upgrades, elite status and other goodies.</p> <p><strong>Access information without Wi-Fi</strong></p> <p>Chloe Vallencia, a frequent flyer and the owner of Couple-Gift, realised that she often doesn’t have easy access to Wi-Fi when she’s travelling abroad. So she uses the app Maps.Me to search for itineraries, maps and locations. It’s easy to use and doesn’t require an internet connection. But getting Wi-Fi isn’t always as impossible as you might think, especially when you’re on the way to your destination: <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/say-goodbye-airport-boredom-these-global-wi-fi-passwords">Make sure to bookmark this map with airport Wi-Fi passwords all over the world.</a></p> <p><strong>Check on transferable flights</strong></p> <p>Plans change, and sometimes, vacations are cancelled. To add to the disaster, many flights are non-refundable, and travellers end up losing everything they shelled out for their holidays. “A very costly mistake many still do is not checking whether their flight is transferable,” says Galena Stavreva, a London-based frequent flyer and travel expert. “If it is, the name of the passenger can be changed, the reservation can be sold to someone else, and the seller can recover at least some of the cost of the flights.” So before booking your flight, check ahead of time to see the restrictions—and consider not booking the flight (even if it seems like a good deal) if it’s not transferable.</p> <p><em>Written by Danielle Braff. This article first appeared in </em><em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/flightstravel-hints-tips/13-aeroplane-hacks-that-will-change-the-way-you-fly">Reader’s Digest.</a> For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA87V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a><span><em> </em></span></p>

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Should we be worried that the chemicals from sunscreen can get into our blood?

<p>A <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2733085#graphical-abstract-tab">recent study</a> published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has attracted <a href="https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/health/study-finds-sunscreen-chemicals-leach-into-bloodstream-within-a-day-ng-b881191385z">widespread media attention</a> after it found chemicals contained in sunscreen could get into people’s bloodstreams:</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.nps.org.au/australian-prescriber/articles/sunscreens">variety of different chemicals</a> in sunscreen are used to absorb or scatter UV light – both long wavelength (UVA) and short wavelength (UVB) – to protect us from the harmful effects of the Sun.</p> <p>But while small amounts of these chemicals may enter the bloodsteam, there is no evidence they are harmful. Ultimately, using sunscreen <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21135266">reduces your risk of skin cancer</a>, and this study gives us no reason to stop using it.</p> <p><strong>Why was the study done?</strong></p> <p>The US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) recently updated its <a href="https://www.fda.gov/downloads/drugs/guidancecomplianceregulatoryinformation/guidances/ucm473464.pdf">guidelines on sunscreen safety</a>. The guidelines indicate that if long-term users were likely to have a plasma concentration of greater than 0.5 nanograms per millilitre of blood, further safety studies would need to be undertaken.</p> <p>This level is just a trigger for investigation; it does not indicate whether the chemical has any actual toxic effect.</p> <p>The <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2733085#graphical-abstract-tab">JAMA study</a> was done to determine whether commonly used sunscreen compounds exceeded these limits, which would indicate that further safety studies were required under the new guidelines.</p> <p><strong>So what did the study do?</strong></p> <p>The study looked at the absorption of some common organic sunscreen ingredients (<a href="https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/51040">avobenzone</a>, <a href="https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/4632">oxybenzone</a>, <a href="https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/22571">octocrylene</a>, and <a href="https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Ecamsule">ecamsule</a>), in 24 healthy participants after they applied four commercially available sunscreen formulations.</p> <p>Each formulation contained three of the four organic sunscreen ingredients listed above. The concentrations of each individual compound were typical of commercial sunscreens and well within the permitted levels. For example, they all contained 3% avobenzone, and the <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/book/9-permitted-ingredients">maximum permitted concentration</a> is 5%.</p> <p>The researchers split the participants into four groups: two groups used a spray, one used cream, and the other used a lotion. The participants applied their assigned product to 75% of their body four times a day, for four days.</p> <p>The researchers then examined the absorption of these compounds by measuring participants’ blood over seven days using highly sensitive tests.</p> <p><strong>What did they find?</strong></p> <p>In all subjects, the blood levels of the sunscreen chemicals rapidly rose above the FDA guidance levels regardless of the sunscreen formulation (spray, lotion or cream).</p> <p>The levels remained above the FDA guidance levels for at least two days.</p> <p>But the conditions of the test were extreme. Some 75% of body surface was covered, and the sunscreen was reapplied every two hours and under conditions where the compounds were unlikely to be broken down or removed (for example by swimming or sweating).</p> <p>This was deliberately a test of a worst-case scenario, as mandated by <a href="https://www.fda.gov/downloads/drugs/guidancecomplianceregulatoryinformation/guidances/ucm473464.pdf">FDA guidelines</a> to determine whether safety testing was needed.</p> <p>Of course, going above the FDA guidance levels does not indicate there is a risk; only that evaluation is required.</p> <p><strong>What about in Australia?</strong></p> <p>Australia’s FDA-equivalent body uses the European Union’s “non-clinical” <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/ws-sg-index">guidelines</a> to evaluate sunscreens and ensure they are safe to use.</p> <p>The EU guidelines are based on <a href="https://www.nps.org.au/australian-prescriber/articles/sunscreens">several studies</a> which show the components of sunscreens are not poisonous or harmful to human health.</p> <p>Looking specifically at the chemical <a href="https://echa.europa.eu/registration-dossier/-/registered-dossier/14835/7/7/2">avobenzone</a>, the safety studies show no toxic effect or potential harm to human health, aside from a small risk of skin sensitivity.</p> <p>The level of avobenzone reported in the blood after regularly applying sunscreen, (around 4 nanograms per millilitre) is around 1,000 times lower than the threshold levels for <a href="https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/85861">harm to skin cells</a>. And the safety studies report no increased risk for cancer.</p> <p>European researchers have also investigated whether the chemicals in sunscreens can mimic the effects of the female sex hormone estrogen. They found the levels would have to be <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/consumer_safety/opinions/sccnfp_opinions_97_04/sccp_out145_en.htm">100 times higher</a> than are absorbed during normal sunscreen use to have any effect.</p> <p><strong>The bottom line</strong></p> <p>This study found that under a worst case scenario, blood levels of organic sunscreen chemicals exceeded the FDA guidance threshold. Under more realistic use the levels will be even lower.</p> <p>But even under this worst case scenario, the levels are at least 100 times below the European Union’s safety threshold.</p> <p>Given the known safety margins and the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21135266">proven ability of sunscreen to prevent skin cancer</a>, there is no reason to avoid or reduce your sunscreen use. <strong>– Ian Musgrave</strong></p> <p><strong>Blind peer review</strong></p> <p>The research check is a fair and reasonable summary and interpretation of the JAMA paper on the absorption of active sunscreen ingredients.</p> <p>It is worth noting that the reference to “extreme” conditions in which the research was conducted is correct, however, in terms of dose, it does align with the recommended level of use of sunscreen. That is, reapply every two hours and use 2mg per 1cm₂. A single “dose” is recommended at 5ml for each arm, leg, front torso, back and head and face, or 7 x 5 = 35ml.</p> <p>Four such doses suggest each subject would have applied 140ml of sunscreen each day; more than a full 110ml tube, which is a common package size for sunscreen in Australia. This is extremely unlikely to occur. Most people use half or less of the recommended dose per application, and few reapply. Even fewer do so four times in a day. </p> <p><em>Written by Terri Slevin. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/research-check-should-we-be-worried-that-the-chemicals-from-sunscreen-can-get-into-our-blood-116738">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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How to pick the right sunscreen for you

<p>There’s an enormous variety of sunscreens to choose from. <a href="https://www.woolworths.com.au/shop/search/products?searchTerm=sunscreen">Major</a> <a href="https://shop.coles.com.au/a/a-national/everything/search/sunscreen">supermarkets</a> each sell more than 60 options. And one large <a href="https://www.chemistwarehouse.com.au/search?searchtext=sunscreen&amp;searchmode=allwords">pharmacy chain</a> sells more than 100.</p> <p>So how do you choose sunscreen that’s right for you?</p> <p><strong>The big 4 must haves</strong></p> <p>Sunscreens need to tick these <a href="https://wiki.cancer.org.au/policy/Fact_sheet_-_Sunscreen">four major boxes</a>:</p> <p><strong>1. The sun protection factor, or SPF, should be at least 30, preferably 50.</strong> SPF describes how much UV gets to the skin. SPF50 allows just 1/50th (2%) of the UV to reach the skin</p> <p><strong>2. Go for broad spectrum protection</strong>, which filters the <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs40257-017-0290-0">full UV light spectrum</a>. UVB rays (290-320nm wavelengths) are responsible for most sunburn and DNA damage, but UVA rays (320-400nm) also cause DNA damage and accelerate skin ageing</p> <p><strong>3. Aim for water resistant formulations</strong>, which <a href="https://www.dermcoll.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/ACD-Position-Statement-Sunscreen-March-2017-updated.pdf">stay on longer</a> in sweaty conditions, and when exercising or swimming. But no sunscreen is completely waterproof</p> <p><strong>4. Make sure the sunscreen is approved in Australia</strong>. Approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is the final must-have. All sunscreens for sale in Australia must meet the <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/book/3-regulatory-categories-sunscreens">TGA’s requirements</a> and will carry an AUST number on the packaging. They can only contain ingredients from an approved list that have been tested for safety and efficacy. And the SPF, water resistance and broad spectrum action must be established by <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/book/4-labelling-and-advertising">testing on human skin</a>. Sunscreens bought overseas don’t necessarily have these safeguards, so proceed with caution.</p> <p>Once you’ve ticked off the big four, you can limit your options by how the sunscreen is delivered, its ingredients, and other factors.</p> <p><strong>Pump pack, roll-on or spray?</strong></p> <p>The sunscreen delivery system is more important than you might think. Sunscreen works best when you <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/community-qa/sunscreens-information-consumers">use lots</a> — a teaspoon for each limb, a teaspoon each for your front and back, and a teaspoon for your face and neck.</p> <p>This is easiest to achieve with pump packs or squeeze tubes. People apply far less sunscreen when they use a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/fullarticle/1149913">roll-on</a>. Spray-on sunscreen is <a href="https://www.cancer.org.au/news/blog/prevention/cancer-council-and-sunscreens-what-you-need-to-know-this-summer.html">even worse</a>; the TGA recommends you apply <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/behind-news/be-sun-smart-wear-sunscreen">one-third of a whole can</a> for proper coverage.</p> <p>How to use sunscreen (Cancer Council)</p> <p><strong>Look and feel, sensitive skin and kids</strong></p> <p>Now we get down to the finer choices in sunscreen, and they depend on your personal concerns and preferences. Here are a few common choices.</p> <p><strong>How to avoiding looking greasy</strong></p> <p>Greasiness is the most off-putting thing about sunscreen for <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28449221">many</a> <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ajd.12636">Australians</a>.</p> <p>But there are non-greasy formulations, often marketed as “dry-touch” or “matte finish”. These can be comparatively expensive, but worth it if greasiness is your main barrier to using sunscreen.</p> <p>Your skin may still look shiny immediately after applying it. But it should return to a matte finish within 10-20 minutes as the sunscreen settles into the epidermis, the outer layer of the skin.</p> <p><strong>How about sunscreen for sensitive or acne-prone skin?</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/sensitive-skin/">Sensitive skin</a> is irritated by a wide variety of cosmetics, lotions and fragrances. So, you can use ones marketed as kids’ sunscreen because these tend to be fragrance-free.</p> <p>You can also choose sunscreens with ingredients such as <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/literature-review-safety-titanium-dioxide-and-zinc-oxide-nanoparticles-sunscreens">zinc oxide or titanium dioxide</a>, which <a href="https://www.dermcoll.edu.au/atoz/sun-protection-sunscreens/">partially reflect and also absorb</a> UV rays.</p> <p>Those so-called physical blockers are <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0887233311001585?via%3Dihub">very unlikely</a> to cause allergic or irritant rashes. But they appear white on the skin, unless you chose an option with nano-sized particles, which are invisible to the eye.</p> <p>If your skin is prone to acne, <a href="https://www.dermcoll.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/ACD-Position-Statement-Sunscreen-March-2017-updated.pdf">good options</a> are lotions or gels, rather than creams, and products marked oil-free or non-comedogenic.</p> <p>Sensitive and acne-prone skin is often limited to the face and neck, so it can be cheaper to have a specialist sunscreen for those parts and a cheaper one for the rest of your body.</p> <p><a href="https://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/sunscreen-allergy/">Sunscreen allergies</a> are rarer but do affect up to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673698121682?via%3Dihub">3% of people</a>. They’re generally caused by a single sunscreen component, usually preservatives or fragrances. A dermatologist can patch test individual ingredients, which you can then avoid by checking labels.</p> <p><strong>What’s the best sunscreen for my kids?</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26101815">Parents worry</a> about the effects of both UV exposure and chemical exposure. And of course, small children can be pretty anti-sunscreen.</p> <p>All Australian sunscreen chemicals are approved by the TGA and are <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1753-6405.12873">recommended for daily use</a>, even on kids. Plus, many kids’ sunscreens are made with sensitive skin in mind, because skin sensitivity is <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1468-2494.2012.00754.x">more common in young children</a>. If your child doesn’t have <a href="https://dermnetnz.org/topics/sensitive-skin/">sensitive skin</a> (skin that reacts with itching or burning sensations to a wide range of body care products), adult sunscreens are fine too.</p> <p>However, <a href="https://www.dermcoll.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/ACD-Position-Statement-Sunscreen-March-2017-updated.pdf">babies under six months old</a> need a physical blocker sunscreen.</p> <p><strong>What not to do</strong></p> <p>The <a href="https://iheard.com.au/question/i-heard-of-a-recipe-for-natural-homemade-sunscreen-do-these-work/">Cancer Council</a> and the <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/blogs/tga-topics/everything-you-ever-wanted-know-about-sunscreens-were-afraid-ask">TGA</a> strongly recommend against homemade sunscreens.</p> <p>Natural oils and other ingredients promoted in recipes found online generally have <a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325217.php#1">a low SPF</a>. And, as they have not been tested for causing irritation, can react unpredictably with the skin.</p> <p><a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/book/2-therapeutic-sunscreen-or-cosmetic-sunscreen">Cosmetics that contain sunscreen</a>, such as lipstick or foundation with an SPF rating, are not regulated as tightly as regular sunscreens in Australia.</p> <p>Cosmetics with an SPF 30 or higher can have good protection <a href="https://wiki.cancer.org.au/policy/Fact_sheet_-_Sunscreen">when you first apply them</a>. But like regular sunscreens, they need to be reapplied throughout the day. That’s not something we usually do, unless you’re going for the caked-on look.</p> <p><em>Written by Katie Lee and Erin McMeniman. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-pick-the-right-sunscreen-when-youre-blinded-by-choice-125881">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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Koalas are the face of Australian tourism: what now after the fires?

<p>In 1936, <a href="https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/201215302?searchTerm=Koala%20as%20tourist%20attraction&amp;searchLimits=">The Evening News in Rockhampton wrote</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>The time has arrived when Australians must decide whether or not they will accept responsibility for the perpetuation of the koala […]</em></p> <p><em>It seems extraordinary that this animal which is so greatly admired, not only by overseas visitors, but by Australians, is being allowed to suffer extinction.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>The preservation of the koala was not talked about so much in environmentalist terms: instead, the koala was seen as a crucial icon of Australian identity and tourism.</p> <p>The earliest picture postcard featuring a koala I have found was postmarked 1903, and it has been a mainstay of tourism advertising ever since.</p> <p>In the latest ad from Tourism Australia, the koala has been recruited, <a href="https://twitter.com/Australia/status/1209852669281669122">once again, to market Australia</a>, starring alongside Kylie Minogue, chilling in a graceful eucalyptus on Sydney Harbour.</p> <p>But amid Australia’s ongoing bush fire crisis, <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/out-of-respect-kylie-minogue-matesong-tourism-australia-ad-pulled-amid-bushfire-coverage-20200103-p53opl.html">airing of the digital ad has been “paused”</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/dec/27/australias-environment-minister-says-up-to-30-of-koalas-killed-in-nsw-mid-north-coast-fires">Up to 30% of the koala population</a> from the NSW mid-north coast is expected to be lost in the fires, alongside <a href="https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/kangaroo-island-bushfire-pristine-wildlife-including-koalas-dunnarts-feared-lost/news-story/9a5cbde8e5e4643a93035d12110204e9">50% of the koalas on Kangaroo Island</a> – the last remaining wild population not infected by deadly chlamydia.</p> <p>Eighty four years on from the Evening News’ story, we are still talking about <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/25/world/australia/koala-fires-functionally-extinct.html">the possible extinction of koalas</a>, our national tourism icon.</p> <p><strong>The creation of an icon</strong></p> <p>Koalas were exhibited at Melbourne Zoo from 1861 and at Taronga Zoo from 1914. But at the same time, koalas were hunted ruthlessly for fur <a href="https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1046/j.1523-1739.2000.99382.x">throughout much of the 19th century</a>. This practice only came to a halt at the end of the 1920s.<span class="attribution"><span class="source"></span></span></p> <p>By the 1930s, three koala-themed wildlife parks – the Koala Park in Pennant Hills, Sydney, Lone Pine Koala Park on the Brisbane River and the Adelaide Snake Park and Koala Farm – had opened for business.</p> <p>1933 saw the publication of Dorothy Wall’s <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1455149.Blinky_Bill?from_search=true&amp;qid=8noWFQRKGJ&amp;rank=1">Blinky Bill</a>. Zoologist Ellis Troughton’s book <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Furred_Animals_of_Australia">Furred Animals of Australia</a> (1931) and natural historian Charles Barrett, with <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Koala-Story-Australias-Native-Bear/dp/1440495815">Koala: The Story of the Native Bear</a> (1937), also influenced public attitudes towards the native animal.</p> <p>In 1934, <a href="https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/28019823?searchTerm=Koala%20Park%20an%20Australian%20sanctuary&amp;searchLimits=l-title=35">the Sydney Morning Herald called</a> the koala “Australia’s national pet”.</p> <p>Perhaps most famously, it was the star of a <a href="https://360.advertisingweek.com/why-does-this-koala-hate-qantas-airways">Qantas advertising campaign</a> from 1967 to 1992.</p> <p><strong>The loss of a tourism icon</strong></p> <p>A <a href="https://www.savethekoala.com/sites/savethekoala.com/files/uploads/Conrad%202014%20The%20Economic%20Value%20of%20the%20Koala%5B2%5D.pdf">2014 study</a> suggests koala tourism could now be worth as much as A$3.2 billion to the Australian economy and account for up to 30,000 jobs.</p> <p>In 2020, Australia has 68 zoos and wildlife parks exhibiting just under 900 koalas. A photograph with a koala is a must-have souvenir for many international tourists.</p> <p>But it is impossible to look at Kylie hanging out with her koala mates without bringing to mind the shocking images of badly burned koalas and other wildlife as the devastating wild fires destroy millions of hectares of bushland habitat.</p> <p>The plump, relaxed, pampered koalas in the Tourism Australia ad are far removed from the horrific realities of fire. These catastrophic fires have compounded the threatening processes that already affect koala populations: habitat destruction and fragmentation, disease, car accidents and dog attack.</p> <p>Recent research has shown koalas are also <a href="https://www.iucn.org/sites/dev/files/import/downloads/fact_sheet_red_list_koala_v2.pdf">vulnerable to climate change</a> through changes in the nutritional status of eucalyptus leaves, excessively hot temperatures and these canopy-destroying wildfires.</p> <p><strong>A life beyond extinction?</strong></p> <p>Australians have clearly shown they are willing to take action to protect the animal, with the <a href="https://10daily.com.au/news/australia/a191119bdupl/koala-bushfire-gofundme-second-most-successful-aussie-fundraiser-of-all-time-20191129">GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital</a> raising almost A$2 million.</p> <p>The outpouring of emotion and financial support reflects the strong connection that Australians feel for the koala, formed out of the interplay of the animal’s baby-like features and its multitude of representations in popular culture, including, of course, tourism marketing.</p> <p>Sadly, it is more than likely the koala will go on serving the national interest through its role in tourism even if it was to tragically <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-report-claims-koalas-are-functionally-extinct-but-what-does-that-mean-116665">go extinct</a> in the wild.</p> <p>Most koala tourism is based on experiences with captive koalas. And extinction hasn’t been a problem elsewhere: Tasmanian Tourism uses a stylised image of the <a href="https://theconversation.com/tasmanian-tigers-were-going-extinct-before-we-pushed-them-over-the-edge-88947">thylacine</a> in its logo.</p> <p>The long term survival of the koala ultimately rests with governments and their policies on forest clearing, fire management and climate change.</p> <p>If future tourists to Australia are to experience the koala in the wild, it is imperative that governments act now to strengthen the protection of the species and most crucially, its habitat.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/129347/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kevin-markwell-170986">Kevin Markwell</a>, Professor in Tourism, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/southern-cross-university-1160">Southern Cross University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/koalas-are-the-face-of-australian-tourism-what-now-after-the-fires-129347">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Travelling to Botany in Darwin

<p> </p> <p>Darwin is best known for its delightful CBD waterfront, but many are surprised to see the amount of interesting plants and trees all around Darwin. Don’t be afraid to put on your favourite botanist hat and get used to the tropical green!</p> <p>The best place to view the widest variety of flora is at the Charles Brown Darwin City Botanic Gardens. Located walking-distance outside of the CBD, and just behind Mindil Beach, the Botanic Gardens are home to many including Australian-, African-, Cuban-origin plants and trees. Why not head over for ½ the day and enjoy having the ability to walk between biospheres; first through the woodlands then to the monsoon and rain forests.</p> <p>Whether you choose to self-guide or take a segway tour, there is a lot to see and lots of grassy shaded area to have a break! Not to mention, the Botanic Gardens has a cafe conveniently situated close to the car park at the Mindil Beach side entrance. Eva’s cafe is highly rated and has the air of a quaint old-fashioned tea house- so why not stop for a cuppa?</p> <p>Even after you have exhausted yourself at the Botanic Gardens, you still won’t be able to get away from the exotic plant life in Darwin! Along the Esplanade walk, in or just outside of town you will often be pleasantly surprised by the plants around you.</p> <p>And don’t worry, if you are traveling with a plant-enthusiast but aren’t so keen yourself, you can simply enjoy the shade provided by the tropical trees or relax on the benches often located at the bases of some Darwin trees- like the Tree Of Knowledge pictured below. The Tree Of Knowledge is located just out front of the Darwin City Library and Civic Centre and was named as such due to the conversations that occurred beneath it in past years.</p> <p><em>Written by Luray Joy. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/botany-darwin/">MyDiscoveries.</a> </em></p>

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Prague and beyond: Travelling overseas

<p>In a darkened cemetery beneath brooding skies, a crow picks at scraps beside a crooked tombstone. From outside, the chapel looks anything but remarkable; sandstone brick, arching stain glass windows, pointed spires stabbing skywards towards encroaching clouds. But once we step inside, it’s a whole other story.  Stacks of human skulls and bones have been arranged into neat pyramids in every corner.</p> <p>An ornate chandelier fashioned entirely from human bones dangles from the ceiling like some macabre masterpiece from the chambers of Nosferatu. Evidence of death is all around and yet the scene has been arranged with such poise and delicacy, there’s a chilling beauty about it.</p> <p>My wife and I are at Sedlec Ossuary, a tiny Roman Catholic Chapel located in the picturesque town of Kutna Hora an hour east of Prague. Said to contain the skeletons of between 40,000 to 70,000 people who perished at war or at the hands of the plague, the modern incarnation was arranged by a woodcarver known as Frantisek Rint, in 1870.</p> <p>Surprisingly perhaps, the chapel now attracts some 200,000 visitors a year but it’s just one of many sights easily accessed from the Czech Republic’s celebrated capital, Prague. Heading back there by train, we enjoy exploring less ghoulish sights — Prague’s longstanding reputation as the jewel of Bohemia is not without good reason.</p> <p>Founded in the late 9th Century, the Czech capital is a sprawling city divided into ten districts, but its beautiful Old Town area is relatively compact and easily navigated by foot. It’s not hard to pass a couple of days simply roaming the Old Quarter with no set script, there’s so much to see. All that’s really required are a good pair of walking shoes and a keen eye for beauty.</p> <p>We begin at Old Town Square, a hub of historic churches, palaces and statues blending Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture in impossibly beautiful picture-postcard fashion. Serving as Prague’s main market place for over 1000 years, the city’s nucleus is home to most of the major sights including the Gothic Tyn Church dating back to the 14th Century and the famous Astronomical Clock, the world’s oldest of its kind still in operation.</p> <p>Prague is not a city built in an orderly grid formation. In fact, much of its charm lies in the ramshackle nature of its layout. From the Old Town Square, a labyrinth of cobbled streets and side alleys snake off in all directions like tentacles from an octopus.</p> <p>Taking pot luck, we venture down many at random, only to be rewarded each time with a new discovery; a side alley beer hall with long wooden benches and tall glasses of Pilsner, a unique shop selling old photographic prints, even a slick restaurant in the underbelly of a church. It’s like a game of choose your own adventure.</p> <p>We continue exploring over several days, meandering the iconic Charles Bridge with its 30 statues exploring the vast courtyards of Prague Castle, even taking a historic cruise along the Vltava River for another perspective.</p> <p>Soon it’s time to head out of the city once more. Taking a train two and a half hours south, we arrive at the charming town of Cesky Krumlov at dusk. A dense Autumn fog shrouds the cobbled streets beside the rushing Vltava River, candles flicker outside the heavy oak doors of bars and restaurants, and it isn’t hard to imagine arriving here on horseback as a medieval knight.</p> <p>Built alongside the s-shaped contour of the Vltava River in the mid 12th Century, Cesky Krumlov has become one of Europe’s most celebrated small towns and in peak summer, the crowds certainly reflect its fame. Come in late Autumn or winter though and you’ll find the atmosphere infinitely more tranquil.</p> <p>In some ways, it’s as though someone pointed a miniaturising ray gun at Prague and zapped it into the town of Cesky Krumlov. The parallels are many; a perfectly preserved castle, an old town square, baroque and renaissance architecture and the Vltava River. Only here you can walk from one side of town to the other in about twenty minutes. Consequently, many travellers make the mistake of assuming this is a day trip from Prague. It isn’t. Stay at least a couple of nights. In spite of its compact size, there is so much to do here, though none of it requires copious amounts of planning, you can just make it up as you go along. The galleries are plentiful and you’ll want to linger longer in almost all of them.</p> <p>Without glancing at a guidebook, we watch live bears prowl the castle grounds, learn history at boutique museums, take a horseback ride through surrounding woodland, marvel at historic architecture, dine on hearty goulash dishes, and yes, drink more than our fair share of Pilsners.</p> <p>This is the beauty of travelling the Czech Republic – you don’t need an extensive checklist. Just turn up, do as the Czechs do, and the rest takes care of itself. </p> <p><em>Written by Guy Wilkinson. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/prague-and-beyond/">MyDiscoveries.</a> </em></p>

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How to take the best travel photos with your iPhone

<p>Most people think you have to have a professional-grade camera or have a certain knack for photography to capture photos worth sharing. But, now-a-days, the camera on your iPhone is advanced enough to deliver high quality photos…as long as you remember these tips and tricks:</p> <p>In order to get the most out of your iPhone on your next adventure, make sure to clear-up some storage on your phone before you leave home. This can be done by connecting your iPhone to a computer and offloading photos and videos from your phone to your computer. This can also be done by deleting unnecessary applications from your iPhone or deleting accidental photos or irrelevant videos.</p> <p>First things first, ensure your phone has full (or close to full) charge on the battery. You will find that more so than simply making calls or checking texts, taking photographs and videos will use up battery life fast. If your iPhone is already quick to lose battery charge, consider investing in a small portable external battery. These are powerful batteries that you charge in addition to your iPhone at home base and bring with you during your outings.</p> <p>Next, take some time to get familiar with iPhone camera settings and options.</p> <p>1. Traveling alone or don’t trust a partner/stranger to take a good photo? Switch the camera to selfie-mode simply by tapping the switch camera icon in the corner of your iPhone camera screen.</p> <p>2. HDR: When the HDR is turned on, your iPhone will take 2 photos in rapid succession; one photo will be a low-light photo, and the other a high-light photo.</p> <p>The two photos are combined automatically and produce amazingly well-lit and vibrant photos.</p> <p><strong>TIPS FOR TRYING:</strong> use the HDR setting when taking a photo where there is not much movement going on in the frame. Test HDR out during a sunrise or sunset where the light is especially amazing!</p> <p>3. In iPhone settings, you can switch-on the photo grid. After you have switched it on, you will see a grid superimposed on the camera screen that will divide the photo into 9 small squares.</p> <p>The lines are there to help you to take photos that are beautifully composed (meaning objects are centered and horizons are flat). The grid doesn’t show-up in the final photograph, it is only a guide when taking photos.</p> <p>4. Try taking a burst of photos. iPhone allows you to take photos in immediate succession simply by holding down the circular take photo button on the iPhone screen.</p> <p>The number of photos captured is a direct result of how long you hold-down the take photo button (a word to the wise: photos are taken at very high speed rates, so if you hold the button down for more than a few seconds, you might end up with 10-20+ photos!).</p> <p>When you take a burst of photos, not all of the photos show up in your camera roll; only what the iPhone determines is the best, least-blurry version, will be shown. However, the beauty of burst photos is that you can pick the best of many.</p> <p>In order to look through each of the many photos taken in that burst, open the photo iPhone displayed in your camera roll, and click ‘select’.</p> <p>Here you will be able to scroll through all of the photos in the burst and select the one or more photos you wish to keep.</p> <p><strong>TIPS FOR TRYING:</strong> use the burst method when taking group photos– with so many pictures taken in a second, the is bound to be a photo where everyone’s eyes are open! Also, take a burst of photos when trying to capture something in action; this feature can be used instead of video.</p> <p>5. On newer iPhones, you can use the self-timer setting. This will direct the camera to count down from 1s, 5s, or 10s before taking a photo.</p> <p>A helpful numeric countdown flashes on the screen to inform you how much time you have to get in position before the photo is taken. Also, the flash flashes every second during the countdown and then flashes rapidly right before it takes the photo– this is to let you know when the photo going to be taken if you can’t see the iPhone screen countdown.</p> <p>To make things even better, the camera not only takes one photo, but automatically takes a 10-photo burst when the countdown is up so that you can select the best one!</p> <p>6. Last but not least, one of the best little known tricks for capturing photos on your iPhone is this: when the camera app is open on your screen, the increase-volume button on the side of your phone, when pushed, acts as secondary take photo button!</p> <p>Like with the circular take photo button on the screen, you can take a burst of photos by holding down the volume-up button!</p> <p><strong>TIPS FOR TRYING:</strong> Sometimes, while in selfie-mode it is hard to hold the phone and take a good photo of yourself, that’s when you can use the increase-volume button on the side of your iPhone instead!</p> <p><em>Written by Luray Joy. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/how-to-take-enviable-travel-photos-with-your-iphone/">MyDiscoveries.</a> </em></p>

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These New Zealand aviation experiences are a must try

<p>New Zealand’s diverse landscapes offer an ever-unfolding natural backdrop for flight-seeing and aerial adventures so it’s no wonder that aviation tourism is a popular activity all over the country.</p> <p>New Zealand by air makes for spectacular sightseeing. Vast coastal expanses, high mountain peaks, deep fresh-water lakes, braided rivers, dramatic fiords and colourful volcanic landforms are some of the scenic highlights of the land – celebrated as the home of Middle-earth – that are best revealed from above.</p> <p>Most regions have multiple aviation adventures and activities – from flight-seeing and helicopter landings on an active volcano or a grand tour of the highest peaks in the Southern Alps, to champagne picnics in wilderness locations, West Coast glaciers heli-hikes or heli-ski excursions into remote snowy expanses.</p> <p>Many luxury lodges, wilderness retreats and city hotels have helipads offering easy access, transfers to and from, and the-skies-the-limit activity options – including weddings in majestic natural locations.</p> <p><strong>North Island aviation activities</strong></p> <p><strong>White Island –</strong> an active marine volcano off the North Island’s Bay of Plenty coast – is a spectacular and unique landmark. Scenic flights over the island operate from Tauranga, Rotorua and Whakatane, along with helicopter tours that land on the island for a hiking option.</p> <p>New Zealand’s famed central North Island volcanic plateau also sets the scene for flights over Lake Taupo, a cluster of volcanic peaks – Tarawera, Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe – and the treasured dual world heritage Tongariro National Park.</p> <p><strong>South Island aviation activities</strong></p> <p>The South Island, with its sweeping Southern Alps mountain chain, and the continuous parade of lakes and glaciers is an aerial feast.</p> <p>Early morning balloon flights take in the vast expanse of the Canterbury Plains, Pacific seaboard and the snowy mountain peaks while The Grand Traverse is a dramatic scenic flight exploring the highest peaks on both sides of the island and over Mt Cook and Westland national parks.</p> <p>Aviation pioneer Mount Cook Ski Planes has been landing fixed-wing planes on a glacier for more than 50 years – and it’s still the only opportunity in the world for tourists to make this kind of glacier landing.</p> <p>In Westland National Park, helicopters take tourists on a spectacular ascent onto the twin West Coast glaciers – Franz Josef and Fox – with an ice landing and hike across the frozen landscape.</p> <p>The ski fields of the Southern Alps are the launching pad for heli-ski excursions away from the crowds on resort slopes. Methven Heliski operates from a Canterbury high country sheep station, taking powder hounds into the mighty glaciated Arrowsmiths mountain range to make first tracks across the fresh powder.</p> <p>Queenstown’s Over the Top luxury helicopter excursions reveal stunning hidden gems that set the scene for gourmet picnics, extreme golfing, exclusive wine and fly fishing experiences.</p> <p><strong>Home of Middle-earth</strong></p> <p>Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film fans from around the world know New Zealand as the home of Middle-earth, and flying is the best way to see some of the top Lord of the Rings tourism destinations – guided by locals who helped find the locations and transport the stars during filming.</p> <p>In the Nelson Tasman region, Reid Helicopters operates flights to stunning Lord of the Rings locations in the beautiful Abel Tasman and Nelson Lakes national parks.</p> <p>From Queenstown, Glacier Southern Lakes, Trilogy Trail and Heli Works share insider stories on a string of Middle-earth locations throughout the Southern Lakes region.</p> <p><strong>In the pilot seat</strong></p> <p>New Zealand is an attractive destination for experienced pilots who want to take the controls while experiencing scenic highlights.</p> <p>Flight charter companies and aero clubs throughout New Zealand rent planes for self-fly excursions or offer flying lessons.</p> <p>Omarama, surrounded by the Southern Alps, is a renowned destination for gliding enthusiasts from around the world.</p> <p>At Wanaka, U-Fly Wanaka offers budding aviators the opportunity to pilot a dual-control Light Sports aircraft while enjoying the stunning alpine and vineyard landscape below.</p> <p><strong>Aviation heritage</strong></p> <p>New Zealand’s national symbol might be the flightless kiwi bird but that has never held back the human Kiwi population whose love-affair with the skies and all things aerial – from planes, helicopters, gliders and hot air balloons, to airborne adventure sports like skydive and paragliding – goes back to the earliest days of flight.</p> <p>New Zealanders embraced the aviation revolution as inventors, pilots and passengers. Some rose to fame – including solo pilot Jean Batten for her record-breaking journeys, early inventor-aviator Richard Pearse, and tourism pioneer Sir Henry (Harry) Wigley whose Kiwi ingenuity developed the world’s first retractable skis for planes.</p> <p><strong>At New Zealand’s oldest aerodrome –</strong> Mandeville airfield near Croydon, in Southland – the Croydon Aircraft Museum has a collection of planes from the 1930s era including de Havilland aircraft. Visitors can take a nostalgic flight in a Tiger Moth or, for the daring, experience the adrenalin rush of an acrobatic joy ride. They can also watch activities in the workshop which is recognised as a world leader in aviation restoration and, once a year in February, the Mandeville Fly-In Weekend attracts incredible vintage aircraft from the 1920s and 1930s.</p> <p><strong>Aviation museums &amp; collections</strong></p> <p>New Zealand’s aviation heritage and heroes are celebrated in a series of museums and collections throughout New Zealand. Notable world-class aviation collections are open to visitors in Auckland, Tauranga and Masterton (in the North Island), Marlborough and Wanaka (in the South Island). Many smaller collections are also open to the public:</p> <p><strong>Auckland</strong>: MOTAT Aviation Display Hall – one of the southern hemisphere’s most impressive aircraft collections.</p> <p><strong>Tauranga</strong>: Classic Flyers Aviation Museum – includes classic aircraft that regularly take to the skies and aviation memorabilia.</p> <p><strong>Masterton</strong>: The Vintage Aviator Fighter Collection – rare rotating collection of airworthy WWI and WWII fighter aircraft on display at Hood Aerodrome.</p> <p><strong>Marlborough</strong>: Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre – not just another museum, this is an inspiring multi-sensory experience featuring film-maker Sir Peter Jackson’s incredible collection of WWI and WWII aircraft displayed in out-of-this world movie sets.</p> <p><strong>Christchurch</strong>: Air Force Museum – features several generations of classic aircraft, and entry is free.</p> <p><strong>Wanaka</strong>: Wanaka Airport – home of the biennial Warbirds over Wanaka airshow – draws together several aviation experiences. Warbirds &amp; Wheels Museum is a collection of rare fighter aircraft and vintage vehicles that tells the stories of the New Zealand flying aces of WWI and WW2, and documents the life of local flying legend Sir Tim Wallis. The National Transport and Toy Museum is one of the world’s largest private collections and includes rare and unusual aircraft and vehicles. Classic Flights will take nostalgic punters up and away in a vintage Tiger Moth.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/new-zealand-aviation-tours-experiences/">MyDiscoveries.</a> </em></p>

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Come and see the festivals and markets in Darwin

<p>Darwin has two major seasons, the dry (April-October) and the wet. Now, I must say life in Darwin is dramatically different between the two seasons due to substantial differences in the amount of rainfall, humidity, and community activities for visitors.</p> <p>The dry season, known affectionately as “The Dry,” is definitely the best time to visit Darwin. You’ll know it’s come as the beginning of the season is marked by the opening of the markets all around Darwin and surrounds.</p> <p><strong>The Markets:</strong></p> <p>The most famous of the lot are the Mindil Beach Sunset markets. As the name suggests, the evening-time markets are an incredible way to watch the sunset on Thursdays and Sundays. Stalls filled with clothes, gadgets, and more are lost amongst those offering yummy and quick eats. When it comes to food, the Mindil Beach markets offer the widest range of options from Indian, Malaysian, Japanese, and of course Australian. There’s something for everyone and plenty of room to sit either on the grassy areas or right on the beach to watch the sun go down.</p> <p>The Parap, Nightcliff, and Rapid Creek markets are slightly further out of Darwin city, but definitely still worth visiting. On Saturday mornings at Parap and Sunday mornings in Nightcliff, the traveling market sellers spend the day delighting market goers usually until around 2pm. Although smaller in scale than the Mindil Beach market, there is a range of oriental cuisine available and a good selection of clothing and small goods stalls.</p> <p>The markets run each week, but every so often Darwin gets to host larger events and festivals. Try to time your trip with one of the festivals!</p> <p><strong>The Taste Festival<br /></strong>The Taste Festival, which usually runs in April, is the the Top End’s way of pleasing the foodies. Restaurants all around Darwin are highlighted in the Territory Taste publication and are included in tasting packages and deals.</p> <p><strong>Fringe Festival<br /></strong>Darwin hosted the quirky Fringe Festival this year in early July which put on theater, art and comedy shows, pop-up galleries, live music, and more at venues around Darwin. While most are ticketed, some events are free for both Darwin residents and visitors to enjoy. Some of the local favourites include the many theatre shows and music events.</p> <p><strong>The Darwin Festival<br /></strong>This year, the Darwin Festival will be held on 10-27 August, good timing as the still-dry weather will be irresistible for visitors. This festival focuses on celebrating the traditional landowners and the multicultural identity of the Northern Territory. Over the 18-day festival Darwin hosts a multitude of free and ticketed events around the city. Whether you enjoy art or music or simply love to learn, listening to traditional stories and enjoying the cultural events are sure to please!</p> <p><strong>The Darwin Cup Carnival<br /></strong>Love the races? The Darwin Cup Carnival in July and August is a favourite piece of the fun of The Dry! Try to catch Ladies’ day or one of the many other special days at the Darwin Turf Club.</p> <p>As you can see, the dry season is an exciting time to visit Darwin. And, while the markets and festivals keep you busy in town, the water-holes and swimming areas in the nearby national parks are finally open for swimming when the dry season arrives. So, inside or outside the city, the dry season is surely the best time to plan a trip!</p> <p><em>Written by Luray Joy. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/festivals-markets-darwin/">MyDiscoveries.</a></em></p>

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Walking and biking in Darwin

<p>Exploring Darwin via the seaside walkways and protected bike paths is an often overlooked way to get away from the hubbub of the CBD and enjoy the waterfront of the Top End. Below are the three best routes for walking or riding around Darwin and surrounding suburbs.</p> <p>These paths have public toilets and water fountains at intervals, but remember to bring your own water to keep hydrated in the Darwin heat!</p> <p><strong>Darwin Esplanade</strong></p> <p>The Esplanade runs along the south-western edge of Darwin CBD and is an ideal place for a stroll. All along the length of the 1.6km paved walkway, are benches, large areas shaded by trees, memorials, informational signs, and beautiful look-out points.</p> <p>Take a break to look at the Darwin Centopath (commemorative of the ANZAC contribution), or stop simply stop off anywhere along the path, as it snakes through many grassy lawns and shaded areas.</p> <p>You will also be able to stop, look, and learn about different points of interest in Darwin Harbour including the nearby Navy Base.</p> <p><strong>Mindil Beach, Fannie Bay and East Point</strong></p> <p>Aside from being home of the beloved dry-season sunset markets, Mindil beach is an incredible place to walk, ride and spend the afternoon.</p> <p>Start at the Sky City Casino on the west end of the beach and walk along the sand or bike along the path toward the eastern end. Keep going along the paved path when you reach the end of the beach and let it guide you up a hill to the amazing look-out point where, to the left, you can see the whole expanse of the beach, and to the right, the beginning of Fannie Bay.</p> <p>As you continue along, you and the family might be starting to get a bit hungry- and perfect timing! You will be coming up to the NT Museum cafe, the Darwin Ski Club, and eventually the Darwin Sailing and Trailer Boat clubs. Grab a bite with a view before continuing along!</p> <p>After you pass the Darwin Sailing Club, about 2-3kms from the beginning of Mindil Beach, you will be coming up to a another slight hill. Manage to get to the top of this one, and you will be pleasantly surprised to see you have arrived on a protected biking and walking path. When followed to the end, the path will deliver you to the interesting WWII bunkers and museum on East Point Reserve. Don’t worry too much about directions from this point onwards, there are many helpful signs to guide you the right way!</p> <p>Before you reach East Point Reserve, be sure to stop at Lake Alexander; it’s a protected lagoon, that when open, is perfect for swimming, wading along the shore or even having a BBQ at one of the many public pits.</p> <p>To walk or ride the whole route from Mindil Beach to East Point Reserve is doable in one day, but keep in mind you can break-up the walk at any point and start along the path later on!</p> <p><strong>Nightcliff</strong></p> <p>Outside of the city in the northern suburbs area, is the magical little town of Nightcliff. When you are not at the Sunday morning market or visiting one of the local favourite cafes, take a stroll along the water and beach fronts in Nightcliff.</p> <p>Another protected bike and walking path will take you along about 3kms of spectacular water views, past the Nightcliff pier, the beloved Foreshore cafe and Nightcliff public pool, and eventually all the way to the empty and beautiful beaches of the Casuarina Coastal Reserve.</p> <p>All along the path in Nightcliff are interesting trees and shaded areas to sit and relax.</p> <p>Now, in order to get to/from the paths when staying in Darwin CBD, consider using the DarwinBus. A $3 ticket allows passengers access to all busses for 3 hours!</p> <p><em>Written by Luray Joy. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/walking-biking-in-darwin/">MyDiscoveries.</a> </em></p>

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Revealed: Budapest Meanderings

<p>I have always had a love affair with apple strudel – not the frozen type that comes in a box, but rather the hand-rolled paper-thin pastry type of strudel bulging with chunky apple, plump raisins and dusted with cinnamon and lashings of cream. The type that sets your tastebuds tingling and leaves you wanting more.</p> <p>So when our Budapest guide, Janine asks, “Do you want to taste the best strudel in the city?” — I don’t hesitate.</p> <p>We follow her along the old cobbled streets to a busy part of the city, to the First Strudel House of Pest, located in an historic 1812 building near Stephen Square, which is dedicated to preserving the art and tradition of strudel making.</p> <p>As we step through the door, the rich aroma of freshly cooked strudel greets us. It is strudel heaven, and there are both savoury and sweet versions on the menu. But before we take a seat, a pastry cook appears with a trolley loaded with pastry, apples, cinnamon, and a hefty rolling pin. “Before you taste one, you have to make one,” says Miska, who confides that there’s a secret to cooking good strudel, which he may share at the end.</p> <p>We watch his deft fingers roll out the perfect opaque paper-thin pastry that we can see through, and in a matter of minutes his strudel is ready for the oven.</p> <p>I quickly learn that making strudel isn’t as easy as it looks, and my pastry ends up with gaping holes in it. It’s also uneven, but I am consoled when Miska praises my efforts.</p> <p>Then it’s time for strudel tasting, and it lives up to all expectations. As for sharing that secret, Miska simply says” “Practice is the key.”</p> <p>Strudel aside, Budapest has a rich history and it is the union of two cities — Buda, which means hilly, and Pest, which means flat. The cities sat either side of the Danube River until they became one city in 1873.</p> <p>One of the most striking buildings is Great Market Hall, which is Budapest’s oldest and largest market. It is spread over three floors and packed with fresh seasonal produce, and an interesting array of Hungarian souvenirs. Dating back to 1897, locals as well as tourists frequent it, and the stallholders are very welcoming and happy to share their knowledge of their city and its produce.</p> <p>Strings of bright red chillies and garlic, bags of paprika, beautiful embroidered clothes as well as traditional Hungarian cheeses, salami, sausages and hams are displayed. It’s a great place to get a feel for the city, and upstairs you can taste traditional dishes such as goulash, pastries, Hungarian wine and the fruit brandy, called palinka.</p> <p>Another must see is the World Heritage listed Buda Castle on Castle Hill, that dates back to 1265 and you should also fit in a visit to the beautiful Gothic Matthias Church where Hungary’s kings were crowned.</p> <p>Fisherman’s Bastion, with its seven elaborate towers, offers the most spectacular views across the city and it’s a great spot for photos. Local musicians play Hungarian folk songs as we wander around then head back across the Chain Bridge that spans the Danube.</p> <p>Often referred to as Queen of the Danube, Budapest is at her most spectacular at night, and she certainly lives up to the description as a fairy tale city with major buildings including Buda Castle and the Houses of Parliament with its 691 rooms all lit up. Take a romantic river cruise and watch the action on and beside the river that is busy with ‘river hotels’ doing Danube cruises, small boats and barges.</p> <p>You’ll soon discover that there are many sides to Budapest, and for a change of pace, the House of Terror Museum is a poignant place for reflection. The museum traces the history of fascist and communist regimes in 20th-century Hungary, and is also a memorial to those held captive, tortured and killed during some the darkest periods of the country’s history.</p> <p>The word ‘terror’ is reflected on the entrance path, created by the shapes of letters cut into the overhanging ledge. It’s a sinister warning about what to expect inside.</p> <p>The building was used as the Secret Police headquarters between 1944 and 1956, and it here that political prisoners were tortured and executed in the building’s basement.</p> <p>On the East bank, another touching memorial, Shoes on the Danube, depicts the shoes left behind by Jews massacred by the local fascist Arrow Cross.</p> <p>Budapest is also a city of spas and thermal baths, including the Szechenyi Spa Baths — one of the best and largest spa baths in all of Europe. It has 15 indoor baths and three grand outdoor pools filled by waters from deep wells under the City Park. It’s a great place to chill out or warm up and is open summer and winter. Don’t be surprised if you see spa goers playing chess in the water – it’s a popular past time. And the good news is, if you forget your swimwear and a towel, you can rent them.</p> <p><em>Written by Sue Wallace. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/hungary-budapest-meanderings/">MyDiscoveries.</a> </em></p>

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The flower festivals worth travelling for

<p>Gardener or not, just about everyone can appreciate the wondrous hues of the botanical world. Here, we discover some of the world’s most eye-catching flower festivals.</p> <p><strong>Sakura, Japan</strong></p> <p>The unofficial national flower of Japan, cherry blossoms play an important role in the country’s culture. Every spring, sakura (cherry blossom season) sees the blooms erupt with colour, with hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties in full swing.</p> <p>It’s hard to pick my favourite place to take in the spectacle, although the Japanese capital stands out for the sheer diversity of blooms. There are a number of parks in Tokyo popular for their blossoms including Shinjuku Goen, home to more than 1,000 cherry trees in dozens of varieties – it’s a great place for picnics and people watching on weekends.</p> <p>One of the country’s most popular parks, Ueno, also features thousands of trees lining a long street where small stalls sell themed delicacies, including cherry blossom-flavoured soft serve. In Kyoto, Maruyama Park is the city’s most popular place for cherry blossom parties – at its heart is a large, weeping cherry tree that is lit up in the evenings. Hundreds of cherry trees also line Philosopher’s Path, a canal-side track that leads to Kyoto’s Silver Pavilion.</p> <p>If you miss the cherry blossoms on the main island, you’ll still have a chance to glimpse them in Hokkaido, where trees bloom later in the year. Maruyama Park and Hokkaido Shrine, located next to each other, are always busy with hanami parties.</p> <p><em>Japan’s cherry blossom season is roughly between mid-March and mid-April.</em></p> <p><strong>UK: Chelsea Flower Show</strong></p> <p>It only lasts for five days, but the Chelsea Flower Show makes the most of its moment in the spring sun. The Royal Horticultural Society has been hosting the event for more than a century, and it gets bigger and better with every instalment. Be warned – with so much visual stimulation and gardening advice around, you will be inspired to go home and get your hands dirty immediately.</p> <p>One of my favourite additions to the show is the ‘Feel Good Gardens’ exhibit, designed to celebrate sights, scents, sounds, flavours and textures that will make you feel happier, calmer and generally better about the world. Plants here were chosen to enrich and indulge one of the five senses: touch, taste, smell, sight and sound.</p> <p>Another highlight is the Great Pavilion, a paradise for plant lovers that is packed with exhibits and floristry. Incredible floral artists complete to create over-the-top displays: Jack Dunckley’s 2017 installation ‘The Bermuda Triangle’ was designed to resemble an active volcano surrounded by tropical planting, while Laurie Chetwood and Patrick Collins teamed up to create a flora sculpture that took inspiration from the Silk Road, replete with a bridge linking the different elements of the garden.</p> <p><em>The Chelsea Flower Show runs roughly from 22 – 26 May.</em></p> <p><strong>USA: Tamiami International Orchid Festival</strong></p> <p>They come in all shapes, sizes and colours and from all corners of the globe – orchids are celebrated in all they delicate glory at this Florida flower festival.</p> <p>The largest winter orchid show in the US, Tamiami sees vendors descend on Miami from around the world to showcase their special blooms, from Africa to the Amazon and everywhere in between. Which means that you can look forward to identifying many of the planet’s recognised 28,000 species of the plant.</p> <p>Alongside exhibits there are showings of rare orchids and a number of specialty classes and lectures. While I was content strolling among the beautiful blooms, my dad signed up to learn more about basic orchid care and also find out tips and tricks for incorporating the flowers into his garden.</p> <p>For stallholders, there’s a more serious element of the event, with judges choosing best-in-show flowers across a number of categories.</p> <p><em>The Tamiami International Orchid Festival runs roughty from 12 – 14 January.</em></p> <p><strong><br />HOLLAND: Keukenhof</strong></p> <p>Tulips, windmills and sunshine…. It has to be Holland’s legendary Keukenhof. Also known as the Garden of Europe, this event in the south of the country is one of the world’s largest flower gardens, covering some 32 hectares and home to more than seven million spring-flowering bulbs. The sheer scale of the space can be overwhelming, with around 500 growers working with designers to create dozens of gardens in different styles.</p> <p>While deliciously scented tulips steal the show, I’m also a repeat visitor to the English landscape garden, where paths wind through well-manicured displays, and the Japanese-themed garden, with cherry blossoms and water features.</p> <p>While people come for the flowers, the entertainment is also worth lingering for. The festival culminates in an incredible floral parade, replete with elaborate floats, and part of the daily spectacle is live music, cooking demonstrations, hands-on workshops in floral arrangement and fashion parades. Don’t forget your camera.</p> <p><em>Keukenhof will run roughly from 22 March to 13 May.</em></p> <p><em>Written by Natasha Dragun. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/flower-festivals-worth-travelling-for-8a3e3661-3311-4b07-86f1-3c56e3db898a/">MyConversation.</a></em></p>

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Why a waltz through Salzburg might be just what you’re needing

<p>Every time I visit Salzburg I can see my breath. There’s just something about this storybook Austrian city in the Alps that makes it so appealing in the chilly festive season. Perhaps it’s the night lights that set aglow fairytale Baroque churches and the hilltop fortress. Perhaps it’s the aroma of warm pretzels, cinnamon and rum that wafts from stalls along crooked, cobbled streets around Universitätsplatz, the city’s main square. It definitely has something to do with the music.</p> <p>The fourth-largest city in Austria, Salzburg is the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeaus Mozart and the set for many scenes from The Sound of Music. Strolling the streets, you’re guaranteed to hear notes from Requium, or Julie Andrews’ octave-leaping vocals claiming a few of her favourite things. It somehow sounds better when you’re rugged up and searching for a mug of glogg and a slice of gingerbread.</p> <p>It’s exactly this that I order at Café Tomaselli, where Mozart would also come to escape the cold with a hot chocolate between compositions. Waiters in snappy dinner jackets roam the mirrored rooms leaving steaming glasses of einspänner (strong black coffee with a dash of whipped cream) on the marble-topped tables. From time to time they pick up trays bulging under the weight of cakes: schlotfeger (chocolate-coated, cream-filled pastry rolls), sticky slices of Salzburger nockerl, a white-peaked soufflé, and slices of moist, flaky strudel.</p> <p>Across the square, horse-drawn carriages line up beside the fountain, and tourists line up to take photos of Mozart’s Geburtshaus, his childhood home and now a museum. Inside, there are some haunting portraits of the musical talent, alongside the tiny violin he played as a child. A short walk away is Mozart’s Wohnhaus, where he lived as a young man. It’s still a shrine to his genius in not only writing music, but also in penning lively letters to friends.</p> <p>I encounter another queue at Café Konditorei Furst, where tourists come to sample a Mozartkugel. While many establishments across town now sell these bite-size chocolate spheres filled with pistachio-flavoured marzipan and nougat, Konditorei is where they were invented in 1890. Gazing up from the narrow street I see domes and spires, the formidable cliff-top fortress and the mountains beyond.</p> <p>I have an equally impressive view from my hotel on the outskirts of town at Schloss Leopoldskron. This incredible estate was one of the film sets for The Sound of Music. Today, it’s a lovely lakeside hotel and museum – the heritage-listed main building, an 18th century Rococo castle, is home to a jaw-dropping collection of art and books belonging to the onetime owner, prince Leopold Firmian. Neat rooms overlook a pebbled courtyard in the newer building, but a number of suites still occupy the stately home and come with antique furniture, wooden floors and deep soaking tubs.</p> <p>Nearby is Schloss Hellbrunn, a Renaissance-inspired pleasure palace with fountains and the gazebo that witnessed so much wooing in The Sound of Music. And there’s also the Mirabellgarten, where Andrews sang Do Rei Mi with her entourage of children. The lavishly landscaped Baroque gardens – a patchwork of hedges, fountains, roses and dwarf statues – surround the Mirabell Palace, built in 1606 by prince-archbishop Wolf Dietrich for his beloved Salome Alt. Inside, a marbled hall hosts regular classical music concerts.</p> <p>After exploring the Altstadt’s grand churches, gardens and squares, I cross the river Salzach to take in the completely different atmosphere of the narrow, 16th-century Steingasse, where working people once lived and worked. Today, shops, galleries and quirky bars now beckon. Here, Salzburg’s museum of modern art has important works by Klimt and Kokoschka and exciting shows by contemporary artists. It’s also on this side of the river that you’ll find Hotel Sacher, home to that torte. The recipe has never been revealed, of course, but it is so dense and rich that it’s suitable to be packed in your suitcase and brought home to Australia as a souvenir. If it lasts that long.</p> <p><em>Written by Natasha Dragun. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/austria-a-waltz-through-salzburg/">MyDiscoveries.</a></em></p>

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The wonders of Paris

<p>As we enter the chic Hotel L’Hotel in the stylish St-Germain-des-Prés area of the Left Bank in Paris, an excited young woman dressed in a brilliant red dress whispers to us: “You’re just in time! Johnny Depp is at the bar.”</p> <p>We pull our bags over the entrance, denoted by a pewter ram’s head above heavy wooden doors, and check in as quickly as we can. Just as we head to the bar, a male figure brushes by and slips out the door – Johnny Depp? Maybe. But it’s not surprising, as L’Hotel has been attracting A-listers for many years.</p> <p>In fact, this was once the stomping ground of the flamboyant Irish playwright, Oscar Wilde, who lived in Room 16. He took up residence at the end of the 19th century and lived at L’Hotel (then called Hotel d’Alsace) until his death, famously claiming to “Live above his means”. A month before he died, he was quoted as saying: “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or other of us has got to go.”</p> <p>Wilde died heavily in debt, owing 2,643 gold francs, plus the cost of 42 candles, 11 bottles of milk and three bottles of lemonade. The framed bill urging him to pay up is a feature of the hotel’s Oscar Wilde suite, which is decorated in traditional English decor and partly modelled on Wilde’s London dining room. It is the most requested room and features a peacock mural and private terrace.</p> <p>In the past, L’Hotel was the haunt of Princess Grace, Frank Sinatra, Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, while today showbiz stars Sean Penn, Mick Jagger, Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino often drop in, alongside old mate, Johnny Depp. However star appeal aside, the hotel is in a great location to explore some of the best attractions in Paris.</p> <p>For starters, it’s not far from the Louvre, the world’s biggest museum and home to Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous Mona Lisa, and the Museum d’Orsay, which was originally a railway station, the Gare d’Orsay. It houses the largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world, with works by Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin, and Gogh. One thing is for sure — with more than 130 museums in Paris, you won’t run out of places to visit.</p> <p>Notre Dame is also nearby, as well as famous cafes, Les Deux Magots and Cafe Flore — which are great for people watching.</p> <p>For us, a food tour in Montmartre is top of the list, and we hope the light rain deters some tourists so it’s not quite as crowded as everywhere else. Our Parisian guide Pierre tells our group of eight how important good food is to the French, and this is only possibly surpassed by good wine.</p> <p>“We don’t shop like others – the true French buy baguettes daily. Freezing is a no-no, and we try to shop at markets for fabulous fresh produce,” he says.</p> <p>First stop is a chic chocolatier salon with black and white striped awnings. It’s home to tiny chocolate treats that look like works of art, displayed in elegant glass cabinets.</p> <p>A specialised macaron shop with attentive staff is the next stop, and we are each invited to select two rainbow coloured macarons. “There is a great art in making macarons, and it is very competitive these days,” explains Pierre. “Patissiers are always experimenting with flavours. For example, one of the latest is olive oil with mandarin, orange and cucumber water.”</p> <p>For me, it’s the salted caramel and raspberry flavours that win, and they are carefully packaged up and handed gently over.</p> <p>As the sun shines, Pierre explains how a fresh daily baguette is part of daily French life. We see locals munching on them even before they leave the boulangerie. “True Frenchmen and women would never consider eating a day-old baguette, and at meals they are not usually eaten with butter,” he says. “Ahh, there’s nothing like a fresh baguette,” he says, almost swooning at the thought.</p> <p>And then there was cheese. Pierre’s favourite fromagerie, which exhibits cheese from across France stacked high on the counters, we enjoy small pieces of Camembert de Normandie, Brie de Meaux and Chevrotin. Wine tasting follows — some new drops and older vintages — before heading to a cosy creperie for a savoury crepe with ham, mushrooms and cheese.</p> <p>Back at L’Hotel, I can’t resist ordering a Born to be Wilde cocktail in the bar where so many legends have sat and sipped before me. It’s a delightfully fresh and punchy concoction of rum, citron vert and Tabasco, and it seems appropriate to imbibe the heady mix as I sit back in a plush velvet armchair, gazing at a photograph of Wilde. He took his final breath here on November 30, 1900.</p> <p><em>Written by Sue Wallace. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/the-wonders-of-paris/">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

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The best holiday packing tips

<p>Thinking about packing and unpacking can be a real point of stress for all travellers. So, the best way to beat the stress when you land is to pack right. These are among the best packing tips we have grown to love.</p> <p>1. Your carry-on and your checked bag should carry different types of items. To some, this is obvious, but to others, this little tip can mean the difference between a carry-on stuffed with socks and one with items that need quick-access. Your carry-on bag will turn into your day-pack once you arrive at your destination. So, to make the transition easier, include personal items like wallet, passport, pen and paper, hand-sanitiser, maps and city guides, books, camera, headphones, and your mobile phone + charger. You’ll avoid lots of stress while flying by having these types of items readily accessible during flight.</p> <p>2. Roll your clothes. When you are unpacking, you will notice that rolled clothes often come out of the bag with fewer creases. Also, by rolling your clothes, you will often be able to pack more into your suitcase (psst…see tip #5 below).</p> <p>3. Pack your suitcase in sections. Standard rectangular suitcases are easy to mentally divide up into sections. Depending on what is right for you, divide your case into 2, 3, or 4 parts. Each part should only contain similar items. For example, keep all tops in one section, bottoms in another, and under garments + bathing suits in yet another. Or, if you like to pack outfits together, consider packing fair weather outfits in one section, cold weather outfits in another, and shoes + accessories in another. And remember, re-section your bag as you start to accumulate clothes that need washing. Keep those clothes separate to keep things simple.</p> <p>4. Fill your shoes. When packing shoes with any structure (ones that can’t be flattened), ALWAYS take advantage of the space inside your shoes. Pack socks, trinkets &amp; extra breakable souvenirs bought while abroad, or (depending on how smelly your shoes are) clothes and other items.</p> <p>5. Over pack. (Yes, you read that right!) When it comes to a semi-full suitcase or a jam-packed one, what’s really the difference? Most of us use rolly-suitcases anyways, so as long as your bag still meets flight weight requirements, pack the extra pair of shoes, gloves, pants, or sunglasses! Having just want you want with you while you are on holiday can be a relief and a give you an added sense of comfort when exploring!</p> <p><em>Written by Luray Joy. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/packing-for-holiday-tips/">MyDiscoveries.</a></em></p>

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Top travel trivia we’re getting wrong

<p>Even if you are a geography whiz or avid traveller, it is time to face the facts – and realise you’re getting many of them wrong. It seems that kangaroo-riding, drop bear-avoiding Australians believe many of the myths and misconceptions perpetuated about rivers, peaks, cities and place names around the globe. For the sake of our high school geography teachers and pub trivia teams, we did our research to bust open these top 18 surprising mistakes:</p> <p><strong>Antarctica has no time zones – False</strong></p> <p>The widely held belief that Antarctica does not use time zones has been debunked by the stations operating on the icy continent. In actual fact, nine different time zones are in use in the South Pole.</p> <p><strong>Russia and Turkey are the only countries on two continents – False</strong></p> <p>A quick look at the map might make it appear that Russia and Turkey are the only countries lying across two continents, but the experts beg to differ. Geologists insist that the boundary between Asia and Europe is in fact the Caucasus watershed, which would mean Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan also qualify.</p> <p><strong>The Nile River is the longest in the world – False</strong></p> <p>This one comes down to semantics. If you take tributaries, river bends and multiple channels into consideration, the Amazon River is marginally longer than its North African cousin at 6992 kilometres to the Nile’s 6852.</p> <p><strong>The South Pole is the same as Antarctica – False</strong></p> <p>It isn’t actually wrong to identify Antarctica as the South Pole, although technicality would have it that the term can refer to four possible South Poles on the frozen continent. The Geographic South Pole, Inaccessible South Pole, Geomagnetic South Pole and Magnetic South Pole (which constantly moves with magnetic drift!) are all different locations in Antarctica.</p> <p><strong>The capital of Switzerland is Geneva – False</strong></p> <p>Despite its prominence in international politics, the European UN’s headquarters is not in fact the nation’s capital. Neither is Zurich, another famous global cultural centre. The title actually goes to humble Bern, the fourth largest city in Switzerland, situated on the Aare River.</p> <p><em>Written by Sophie Cullen. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/top-travel-trivia-we-re-getting-wrong-antarctica-china-russia-turkey/">MyDiscoveries.</a> </em></p>

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Lord Howe Island: a nature-lover’s paradise

<p>From adventurous walks to stunning snorkels, Lord Howe Island is the ideal exotic escape for anyone wanting a diverse array of astonishing natural scenery and activities. It is the ideal vacation locale for venturesome Aussies looking to travel, quite literally, outside the 'normal' Australia.</p> <p><strong>Lord Howe Island facts</strong><br />Lord Howe Island is a multi-award winning, World Heritage-listed paradise less than a two-hour flight from Sydney and Brisbane. It is located 600km from Australia’s east coast and is an unincorporated area of New South Wales. Although it is part of the electoral district of Port Macquarie, it is self-governed by the Lord Howe Island Board.</p> <p>Lord Howe Island has just 350 permanent residents and allows only 400 tourists to visit at any one time. As well as regular flights from Sydney (weekdays) and Brisbane (weekends), QantasLink also offers a seasonal Saturday service from Port Macquarie (September to end of May in 2016/17). </p> <p>Lord Howe Island enjoys consistently warm weather, with average maximum temperatures of around 25 degrees Celsius in summer, dropping to an average of 19 degrees in winter.</p> <p>The island is a truly unique and refreshing getaway as it is beyond the reach of mobile phones and other technologies, forcing you to evade civilisation and immerse yourself in the unspoiled natural landscape. The island features all basic amenities such as a hospital, shops, post office, churches and public phones. One of the most refreshing elements is that you can walk or cycle everywhere around the island. There are also a limited number of cars available for hire if the situation calls for it.</p> <p>It is incredibly safe for people of all ages, including children on account of the lack of snakes or stingers and the island-wide speed limit of 25km/h.</p> <p>The real attractions of Lord Howe Island are its pristine forests and coastlines, as well as the abundant native wildlife. The island is a remnant of a now-extinct shield volcano dating back seven million years. And remarkably, 87% of the original native vegetation remains on the unique isle. </p> <p>It is home to 241 species of indigenous plants, almost half of which are not found anywhere else in the world. On top of the 500 fish species, 1600 terrestrial insect species and 90 coral species, more seabirds breed in higher numbers on Lord Howe than anywhere else in the world.</p> <p><strong>How to plan a trip to Lord Howe</strong><br />In terms of organising your trip, there are a range of travel operators who organise travel, accommodation and tours to Lord Howe Island. It is easiest and cheapest to organise the trip as part of a package or bundle, as your accommodation provider will then pick you up from the airport and help you arrange activities once on the island.</p> <p><strong>Real traveller's tips<br /></strong>Gold Coast resident Heather Mayr recently did a trip to Lord Howe Island with her 78-year-old mother and 55-year-old sister and husband. Her biggest piece of advice for anyone travelling to Lord Howe Island is to be flexible. When planning tours she suggests that you simply register your interest, and then you will be notified (the night before or the morning of) as to whether the trip will go ahead.</p> <p>“Many of the tours and activities operate subject to weather conditions, which are very changeable – so don’t go there with a set itinerary. You need to be flexible and jump at opportunities when they come up.”</p> <p>Keeping this changeable weather in mind, Heather also recommended taking out travel insurance as the flights can often be cancelled. Below are Heather’s top recommended activities for anyone travelling to Lord Howe Island.</p> <p><strong>Top 5 activities on Lord Howe Island</strong></p> <p><strong>1. Bushwalk to a mountaintop for breathtaking 360-degree views</strong> </p> <p>Challenge yourself with the eight-hour return trek to the tallest peak (875m), Mt Gower. This stunning walk features a misty alpine forest, thrilling, rope-assisted climbs and unparalleled views of the surrounding coastline and bushland. Alternatively, if you are looking for a less demanding stroll, you could opt for the one-hour walk to Transit Hill, which also offers stunning 360-degree views of the island.</p> <p><strong>2. Snorkelling at Ned’s Beach</strong></p> <p>Snorkelling is one of the best ways to observe the phenomenal marine life of Lord Howe Island. Wade through the crystal blue water, watch as schools of colourful fish flock to your side as you hand-feed the fascinating little creatures and enjoy the mesmerising kaleidoscope of colours of the fish and coral reef – the southernmost coral reef on the planet.</p> <p><strong>3. Turtle tour in a glass-bottom boat</strong></p> <p>A glass-bottom boat is one of the most authentic and awe-inspiring experiences, allowing you to witness turtles and other phenomenal marine life in their natural habitat.</p> <p><strong>4. Fishing charter or boat tour circumnavigating the island</strong></p> <p>A boat tour provides you the chance to explore the 551-metre Ball’s Pyramid, the world’s tallest sea-stack. You can also go fishing, and spot birds, fish and even dolphins.</p> <p><strong>5. Surfing at Blinky Beach</strong></p> <p>Blinky Beach is a pristine location offering some of the most secluded surfing opportunities in the country. It is also a perfect location for a fishing trip or a relaxing picnic.</p> <p>Other popular activities on Lord Howe Island include golfing with one of the most stunning views in the country, scuba diving among the diverse marine wildlife, kayaking, paddle boarding, bird watching and a myriad of other tours and natural experiences.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/lord-howe-island-a-nature-lovers-paradise.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

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Evacuating with a grandbaby: Here’s what to put in your emergency kit

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Every summer in Australia, bushfires, cyclones and floods threaten lives and properties. Preparing for these emergencies includes creating </span><a href="https://www.redcross.org.au/campaigns/prepare/prepare-get-packing"><span style="font-weight: 400;">an emergency kit</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that contains everything you and your baby will need if essential services are disrupted or you need to evacuate.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Infants are </span><a href="http://research.usc.edu.au:8080/vital/access/manager/Repository/usc:25429?lightbox=true"><span style="font-weight: 400;">particularly vulnerable</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in emergencies. Without access to appropriate food and fluid they can become seriously ill within hours, </span><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/ejcn2009111"><span style="font-weight: 400;">particularly in hot weather</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Families can be isolated without power or water in their homes for long periods. They can be </span><a href="https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/126921723"><span style="font-weight: 400;">stranded in their cars while evacuating for hours or even days</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. And because government planning for infants is lacking, even when you reach an evacuation centre, you may have to </span><a href="https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-019-7528-0"><span style="font-weight: 400;">wait to access infant feeding supplies</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But parents can find it difficult to pack the necessary supplies for their babies. We are so used to having reliable power and water that it’s hard to imagine what it’s like not to have them.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">During the 2011 Queensland flooding and cyclone Yasi disasters, for example, </span><a href="https://www.usc.edu.au/explore/usc-news-exchange/news-archive/2018/december/floods-cyclones-bring-sickness-threat-to-babies"><span style="font-weight: 400;">one-quarter of families evacuated</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> were unable to pack adequate infant feeding supplies.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This difficulty is compounded by the fact that, apart from </span><a href="https://www.qld.gov.au/emergency/dealing-disasters/prepare-for-disasters/food-during-disaster"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Queensland</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, state and territory governments </span><a href="https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-019-7528-0"><span style="font-weight: 400;">do not provide detailed guidance for parents</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> on what to pack for babies in emergency kits. Some emergency organisations offer more advice on what to pack for pets than for babies.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Gathering supplies at the last minute can be dangerous as it can delay leaving.</span></p> <p><strong>So, what do parents and caregivers need in their kit?</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Emergency kits should have everything you need to look after your baby for at least three days without having any access to electricity or water.</span></p> <p><strong>Breastfed babies</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If your baby is less than six months old and fully breastfed, you will need nappies, wipes, and some extra water to keep hydrated.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Some mothers worry they won’t be able to breastfeed during an emergency. Babies are often unsettled in emergencies but </span><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16157942"><span style="font-weight: 400;">stress doesn’t impact milk production</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, </span><a href="https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/131/11/3012S/4686704"><span style="font-weight: 400;">it can slow the release of milk</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. If this happens, keep offering the breast, look at your baby, think about how much you love them; this will release hormones that make the milk flow and help you and your baby to feel more relaxed. Frequent breastfeeding increases the amount of milk a baby takes from the breast.</span></p> <p><strong>Expressed breastmilk-fed babies</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you feed your baby expressed breastmilk, you need to learn how to hand express, as it may not be possible to wash pump parts.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You will also need drinking water for yourself, detergent, around 400ml of water per feed for washing hands, disposable plastic cups or single-use bottles and teats for feeding the baby, as well as nappies and nappy wipes.</span></p> <p><strong>Formula-fed babies</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you are are formula feeding, we suggest the following as a minimum:</span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">an unopened tin of infant formula</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">enough bottles and teats to have one for every feed (thoroughly washed, sterilised and completely dry before sealing in a ziplock bag)</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/the_guidelines/n56_infant_feeding_guidelines.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">small bottles of still drinking water</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> (not mineral or carbonated water) for reconstitution</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">large containers or bottles for washing hands and the preparation area (about 500ml per time)</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">detergent for washing hands and the preparation area</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">paper towels for drying hands and the preparation area</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">nappies and nappy wipes.</span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">All of these supplies can be stored in a large plastic tub with a flat lid that you can turn upside down and use as a clean preparation surface.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When using the kit, it’s important to only make up the infant formula when it is going to be fed to the baby and to throw out any leftover formula within an hour of starting the feed.</span></p> <p><strong>Babies aged over six months</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If your baby has started solids, include enough canned baby foods and disposable spoons in your kit to feed your baby for three days.</span></p> <p><strong>Other things to consider</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you are formula feeding and it’s possible you’re going to be isolated at home without power for more than a few days, you </span><a href="https://internationalbreastfeedingjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1746-4358-6-16/figures/3"><span style="font-weight: 400;">may need to store resources</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> such as a gas stove and a large quantity of water to enable washing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Emergencies often occur during heat waves and </span><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/emergency/plan-for-an-emergency/2012-09-04/plan-for-a-heatwave/4215360?fbclid=IwAR1PreuexNYq8ZP0upXgfq7Q7VLOE6mIMfqHSkxcH6lm4MWdvAjapXl5DHw"><span style="font-weight: 400;">general advice</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> includes drinking plenty of water to prevent dehydration. This advice doesn’t apply to babies under six months of age. Young babies can be made </span><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00032470.htm"><span style="font-weight: 400;">very ill if given water alone</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. Instead, offer your baby </span><a href="https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/factsheets/Factsheets/babies-children-hot-weather.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">more frequent breast or formula feeds</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you’re wondering whether to stop breastfeeding, consider delaying this decision until after the summer emergency season has passed, as it’s much easier to breastfeed than to formula feed in emergency conditions.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Karleen Gribble and Nina J Berry. Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/evacuating-with-a-baby-heres-what-to-put-in-your-emergency-kit-127026"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Conversation. </span></a></em></p>

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