Sometimes controversial, January 26th has been named as Australia's national day, marking the date in 1788 when Governor Arthur Phillip raised the British flag at Port Jackson. Since it was first celebrated in 1808, it has grown into the day where we not only honour this great country and its diversity by various activities - ranging from communal breakfasts at the beach, fireworks, speeches and services, thong-throwing, surfing and backyard BBQs – to reflection on where this community of indigenous people and emigrants (there are only these two categories) has come from, and where it is headed.
Here then, as Australia Day fades away, are some things to look forward to across the country in the weeks and months ahead.
Twelve Apostles Walk turns ten in '15!
Australia has many iconic landmarks and perhaps none nore so than the Twelve Apostles off the southern coast of Victoria.
The Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk (formerly known as The Twelve Apostles Walk by Bothfeet) and has been operated continuously on the Great Ocean Walk since 2005, and is located at Johanna, 250km south west of Melbourne on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. It covers the last 52km section at the west end of the trail known as the Great Ocean Walk. All 2015/2016 walks are 4 days/3 nights and walkers require a moderate fitness level and hiking boots/shoes.
Walkers are a privileged few as spaces are limited each walking season (closed for winter 2 June – 1 September each year).
Walkers stay all three nights in one luxury location and are shuttle transferred out each day to the place they left off from the day before. This unique experience brings together only ten people at a time, fills them with clean, lovely air and amazing scenery, nourishes walkers daily with choice morsels prepared by a chef (no packed sandwiches in sight!), then a stay in stunning eco-luxe ensuite villas – it’s the ultimate de-stresser from everyday life!
The lodge, sustainably designed and built and Advanced Eco-certified with Ecotourism Australia, sleeps up to 12 guests in eco-luxe ensuite villas - each with a king bedroom, hot showers, heating, passive solar design, foot spas, live in chef and a central licenced dining room – all set in a natural rainforest amphitheatre. The only way to stay at the luxury lodge is to join a guided walk which is all inclusive including all meals and accommodation.
The hike culminates with a return helicopter flight over the Twelve Apostles back to the lodge on the final day. Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk is a founding member of Great Walks of Australia. It’s not the walking that’s the best part, it’s the finishing. The feeling at the end when you’ve done it!
Barossa does it again
It seems everyone has heard of South Australia's Barossa Valley, known worldwide for fine wine, fabulous food and ....its festivals!
This year will continue the trend with the 2015 Barossa Vintage Festival showcasing 95 events over five days from 15-19 April 2015..
This is Australia's longest running wine festival, celebrating the region's rich heritage and gastronomic pleasures.
Highlights include a decadent feast, an exclusive wine auction featuring the Barossa's most distinguished wineries and a host of indulgent wine and culinary experiences sure to delight and tantalise the senses.
In amongst the tastings, leisurely lunches, breakfasts and sightseeing you might even spot a celebrity or two.
Australia's favourite, local foodie, Maggie Beer, is set to woo the crowd with her culinary delights at the World Release – Willi's Wine Bar Paris Poster event. Or learn how to get the most out of seasonal ingredients from Masterchef alumni, Callum Hann.
Come for a few days and bed down in one of the valley's many quaint and cosy bed and breakfast's or splash out at the luxurious Novotel and join the local community as they open their cellar doors, and hearts, for a taste of Barossan life.
The diverse and eclectic program is planned to appeal to everyone. The start of the Festival targets wine connoisseurs and the premium end of the market, and the weekend will be full of relaxed, family-friendly activities.
For more information on the Barossa Vintage Festival........
...........also in South Australia
View the beauty of Kangaroo Island captured in Hyperlapse
Adelaide-based photographer Gab Rivera has collaborated with the South Australian Tourism Commission to create a spectacular new film that captures the natural, rugged beauty of Kangaroo Island. The three-minute film, released as part of the State Government’s Through Local Eyes campaign, uses the Hyperlapse technique to piece together more than 7,300 still photos to create a breathtaking film. Iconic Kangaroo Island locations such as Seal Bay, Remarkable Rocks and Cape du Couedic feature in the film.
SEE IT HERE>>>>>
In the wild in Canberra, ACT
Australia's Federal Capital, Canberra, is usually more associated with politics and culture, but now there is also an opportunity to mix it with the animals. Well, almost!
Now visitors may experience Canberra like never before with an ultimate animal encounter at the National Zoo & Aquarium's new luxury accommodation - the much anticipated Jamala Wildlife Lodge which hosted its first guests just before Christmas 2014.
Just 10 minutes from the centre of Canberra, Australia's only combined zoo and aquarium offers visitors an all-inclusive luxury lodge experience with behind-the-scenes tours and animal encounters. Bathe while a bear grazes on the other side of the window, relax on your lounge while looking into the face of a lion, feed the giraffes or get ready for dinner while sharks swim by.
It is a chance to relax in five-star African-inspired accommodation hubs while experiencing close encounters with the resident wildlife. Three accommodation precincts are available, each with their own wildlife experience. Choose from one of seven luxurious rooms inside the main Ushaka lodge, which boasts a shark tank and a private pool and spa.
There are also six unique Giraffe treehouse suites nestled into a reserve overlooking the Molonglo River, where you can mingle with the resident animals and hand feed the neighbouring giraffe. Or else if you are a little braver, you can stay in one of the five exclusive Jungle Bungalow suites adjoining different animal enclosures, including lions, bears or cheetahs. Centimetres of glass separates you from these magnificent creatures whether you are in bed, relaxing in your lounge or having a dip in the bath.
The Jamala Wildlife Lodge experience includes two exclusive tours for lodge guests designed to allow guests the opportunity to meet as many animals as possible, including lions, tigers, cheetahs, brown bears, sun bears, otters, meerkats and rhinos.
Read more at ......
Enlightened in Canberra
If your tastes run more to the aesthetic rather than wildlife, then Enlighten will captivate you. The event, now in its fifth year, is planned to breathe light, colour and movement into Canberra after dark in spectacular style. Enlighten's signature architectural projections will transform the grand buildings of the national capital's Parliamentary Triangle from Friday 27 February to Saturday 7 March.
On the festival's showcase nights – Friday 27 February, Saturday 28 February, Friday 6 March and Saturday 7 March – the Parliamentary Triangle will be transformed into a not-to-be-missed vibrant and bold performance precinct with free entertainment set against a backdrop of stunning architectural projections that shine a light on some of Australia's most iconic attractions.
Better still, this year's program also sees the exciting addition of the Enlighten Night Noodle Markets, creating a bustling atmosphere in the heart of the event with an array of authentic Asian eats, themed bars and live music, and up to 25 hawker style food stalls showcasing the essence of the Canberra region food and wine experience.
For more information.....
A million Instagram followers and here's why...
Tourism Australia is today celebrating achieving more than a million followers of its @Australia Instagram account.
Tourism Australia Managing Director John O'Sullivan said @Australia was the most popular national tourism destination Instagram page in the world, with more followers than the Canadian Tourism Commission (@explorecanada, 131k), Tourism New Zealand (@purenewzealand, 30k), VisitBritain (@lovegreatbritain, 11k) and South Africa Tourism (@meetsouthafrica, 6k) combined.
“Our followers are posting these images because they have a genuine desire to share their many personal and positive Australian holiday experiences and, by doing so, play a part in promoting a country they love,” he said.
Amongst international followers, 91 per cent of respondents said @Australia inspired them to find out more about Australia as a holiday destination, with 87 per cent of respondents saying the content made them more likely to travel to Australia. Forty-three per cent of international respondents said they were currently planning a trip to Australia.
One Australian ex-pat follower currently living in the UK and interviewed in the survey said: “Love your page! I'm Australian living in London, and I use your page to showcase Australia to all my English friends”.
A US follower wrote: “I never thought I would want to go to Australia before I joined Instagram. Now I can't imagine not going! So beautiful”. Another wrote: “I'll be spending approximately six weeks in Australia next year. I can't wait to set foot on the continent that's intrigued me for years”.
Tourism Australia's social media team has published a presentation outlining how it uses its @Australia Instagram page to inspire the world to travel to and through Australia. View it here.....
Royal Bee-tanic Garden, Sydney
Did you know that bees at the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney are producing consistent supplies of natural raw and unfiltered honey despite honey supplies dwindling around Australia due to drought in regional areas.
Jimmy Turner, Director of Horticultural Operations at the Royal Botanic Gardens said the Garden’s bees have enjoyed an abundance of colourful and delicious flowers over spring and summer.
“We’ve revitalised the Garden and introduced more flowers this year and the Herb Garden is another great source for the bees. The abundance of flowering plants makes for sensational tasting honey,” Mr Turner said, adding that the Herb Garden is also a popular stop-off for the bees.
The honey now available in the Garden Shop was harvested during spring and early summer from five beehives overseen by Doug Purdie, Founding Director of Urban Beehive.
"There’s around 60-80,000 bees in the five bee hives at the Garden. When you consider each bee makes a quarter of a teaspoon of honey and they only live for about five weeks, they certainly earn their reputation as ‘busy bees’,” Mr Purdie said.
“I expect to harvest honey at the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney every three weeks until the end of summer early autumn. Each harvest produces around 350 jars of honey.
“The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney is an ideal place for bee hives because there are all sorts of things flowering all year round. I got into the business because I learnt that bees were under threat around the world and wanted to get involved by telling people about it and encouraging them to instal hives,” he said.
....but if you prefer tomatoes
.. then the Sydney Royal Botanic Garden has that covered too!
Paying homage over the Valentine’s weekend to the ‘love apple’ there's the return of the award winning Tomato Festival Sydney on the 14th and 15th February 2015.
Leading up to the Festival, organisers will be trying to lure out the best tomato cooks in Sydney's suburbs by offering prizes for the best home-made Tomato Passata Sauce and the Tomato Relish/Chutney. Entries close 30th January. More information.....
Dr Brett Summerell, Deputy Executive Director, Science and Conservation at the Garden, says the humble tomato is very special and deserves to have its own Festival.
“Fewer than 20 species of plants provide 90 per cent of the world’s food – many of these species are from the same family as the tomato - the Solonaceae,” he says.
A pop-up bar & café is planned, local and organic produce stalls, a degustation luncheon, free workshops, a cooking Master Class, free guided tours and much more.
Read more... OR watch a video.....
February 27 to March 15, 2015
(Image: Daniel Mahon)
Food and wine-lovers, mark your diaries for this annual event whch takes place throughout many venues in and around Melbourne and throughout the state of Victoria. Find out details shortly on .......
It would be impossible for any Australian cook or food-lover to have NOT heard of Lyndey Milan. For over 30 years she has worked across TV, radio and print media at the highest levels. Her CV (which must itself be almost book-length by now!) includes close to ten years as Food Director of The Australian Women's Weekly, co-host of the Channel 9 cooking show Fresh, and more recently the hosting of six television series. Notable amongst these was the 14-part Lyndey Milan's Taste of Australia.
So it is no surprise that this, her latest cookbook, bears the same name and there, as her good friend Maggie Beer says, she 'shines a spotlight on local produce and the abundance of fresh produce at our fingertips'. Little wonder it won the Australian category for Culinary Travel book in the Gourmand Book Awards.
To have and use this book is like travelling with Lyndey to the many places she visited in her series, but with the added bonus of having the recipes there in front of you, complete with notes and tips and advice on what wines will best accompany each dish. Her generosity of spirit, known and loved by all who have spent even a short time with her, is apparent as she 'showcases the bountiful variety of food and wine from the many landscapes' she visited while preparing the series.
Known as a food-lovers' island, Tasmania's Festivale, this year from 13 to 15 February, is a a three-day party celebrating regional produce, music, beer, cider, whisky,cool-climate wine and master and cooking classes.
Since 1988, Launceston's Festivale has transformed historic City Park with this event.
Originally a showcase of the city's rich multi-cultural community, the event has grown into a quality gourmet fixture, showcasing Tasmania's finest food and beverage producers. Roving performers and live bands make it a party for the thousands of visitors tasting their way through over 70 stalls. Full program is released end December, 2014.
Anothere favourite, the National Penny Farthing Championship on 21 February 2015, welcomes antique bike enthusiasts as they roll into Evandale from around the globe. The penny farthing race day each February is the most competitive Penny Farthing event in the world. The historical main street is the perfect circuit for the tweed-garbed competitors atop their brakeless, 1.5-metre-high bicycles. It's as dangerous as it is competitive, culminating in the break-neck National Penny Farthing Championship race. Away from the track check out the Evandale Village Fair, enjoy the Penny Farthing Food Fest in Pioneer Park or enjoy a traditional pub meal in the leafy beer garden of the Clarendon Arms Hotel.
The biennial Australian Wooden Boat Festival sails into Hobart in February for a huge four-day celebration of maritime culture and expert craftsmanship. Five hundred boats of all shapes, sizes and wood grains are on show in an amazing display of seaside colour and design, and local gourmet food, live music, demonstrations and displays. Catch the opening Parade of Sail which sets the scene for a wonderful weekend on the waterfront.
The annual Eat Drink Perth festival this year will run for five weeks from March 20 to April 24, 2015. The foodie event will offer food lovers of all tastes and budgets an additional week of savouring a multitude of foods, cooking demonstrations and master classes, wine tastings, degustations, progressive dinners, food and fresh produce markets, and pop-up events from a diverse range of restaurants, cafes, bars and specialty retailers across Perth City. The festival's program of events is set to be released in February/March 2015.
WA's Top-end is TOP!
It's official! The Kimberley in WA's North West has been awarded the Best Travel Experience of 2014 by Australian travel magazine, Australian Traveller. The region's majestic, mysterious, remote, rugged and sincerely beautiful landscape took out the inaugural award, as part of the magazine's Peoples' Choice Awards – an annual snapshot of the best travel experiences readers' have had over the year.
Other WA experiences and destinations to make the list included swimming with Ningaloo's whale sharks (came in third on the list of Top Travel Experiences) and Lake Argyle Caravan Park won the best campsite in Australia for 2014.
For the full list of winners.....
Its name sounds like a sneeze.....
...but this unusual fruit may actually help keep you healthier!
The health benefits of the Achacha fruit have long been recognised in Bolivia, its country of origin, but the fruit, in season now, is relatively new to Australian palates, now being grown on a plantation in north Queensland.
Results of a new study from the School of Science and Health at the University of Western Sydney, following detailed examination of the skin and pulp of the Achacha over the past year, confirm this a fruit with a future here.
Researchers report that its low sugar content means it is an excellent choice for diabetics. They also found that its skin, when soaked in water to make a refreshing, nutritious drink, releases high levels of hydroxycitric acid (HCA) and surprisingly high levels of arginine (an amino acid), the key factor in the production of nitric oxide in humans, the importance of which is being increasingly recognised in the medical field.
In moderate to high concentration, they advise, arginine can help improve blood flow and other aspects of cardiovascular health and act as a relaxant, soothing the muscles around the blood vessels, hence lowering blood pressure. Arginine may also prevent excess accumulation of fat in the fat cells.
North Queensland growers, Achacha Fruit Plantations, have established the first and currently the only known large scale commercial Achacha operation in the world on 120 irrigated hectares in the Burdekin Shire.
They are currently picking this season's fruit, and pallets are now on their way to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne wholesale markets, then will find its way to Australian retail outlets and markets. The fruit will also be available in some major stores in the UK and Asia.
The fruit is described as sweet, tangy and refreshing, providing a unique taste sensation for fruit lovers. It also makes delicious sorbets and granitas amongst other things, and has a long shelf life.
Want to see the rest of Australia.....?
If your feet are now itchy to see what else Australia has to offer, you may be thinking of hopping in a 4WD or hitching a caravan to your car and setting off around the country.
If you do, you may want to tuck a copy of Eva Stovern's latest book in the glovebox. Keeping it Simple to be published in February by Explore Australia, explains how to do just that as you travel. In this latest book, Eva expands on her quintessential list of 30 pantry ingredients to offer an even bigger range of delicious and healthy recipes that are incredibly easy to prepare, and need only a camp chair and an amazing sunset to accompany them.
Most people know Eva as the ‘Caravan Chef', a happy fellow traveller who loves to cook; however, she’s also a wife, mother and grandmother, living in Sydney’s Inner West. Her original 30 ingredients from her previous cookbooks are always in her pantry.
Accompanied by her husband Thom, Eva has travelled all over Australia by caravan. She enjoys scouring grocery shops in small country towns and sitting down to a home-cooked meal in front of a fiery outback sunset, far removed from restaurants and city life. Eva has contributed editorial content for many popular travel publications and websites, as well as appearing in cooking segments on TV shows.
Happy Australia YEAR!
Have fun as you experience this amazing country in 2015