western australia

Stopover in Western Australia

 

Qantas is now flying daily direct on the Perth – London route and people are making the most of the new service to take some time out and explore Western Australia.

For Australian passengers travelling to or from other parts of the country on the direct route, Qantas is offering a Perth stopover with no additional stopover fee, depending on fare type.

This is a fantastic way to break up the journey and see more than just Perth.

Only an hour south of the capital by train or car, Mandurah and the Peel Region showcases the best of everything that WA is renowned for including stunning beaches and waterways, unrivalled seafood, world-recognised golf courses, spectacular views, history and culture, wineries, breweries, shopping and adventure.

Mandurah is Western Australia’s largest and fastest growing regional city and is set against a backdrop of magnificent beaches and an estuary twice the size of Sydney Harbour.

It has recently been named Western Australia’s Top Tourism Town and is the perfect base to take day trips to explore the wider Peel Region. In an easy half hour drive you’ll find beautiful wineries, breweries, winding waterways, rolling green hills and tiny timber towns nestled in the forest.

Mandurah and the Peel Region is home to one of Australia’s healthiest dolphin populations which you spot on a dolphin cruise or while dining in one of the many waterfront restaurants.

Seafood lovers will rejoice in the number of dining options available from the great Mandurah tradition of a picnic fish and chips on the newly refurbished foreshore to ‘catch and cook’ cruises featuring blue manna crabs, native to Mandurah waters, and rock lobster.

If you enjoy a spot of fishing, you’re sure to land a catch in the Peel Region.

Mandurah boasts Western Australia’s own modern Venice, with a network of canals featuring luxury homes. You can hire a boat and cruise them yourself or join an organised tour.

If it’s a holiday with a difference you’re after, Mandurah is the only place near Perth you can hire a houseboat. Completely unwind and take in the views while slowly meandering down the Murray River or Peel-Harvey-Estuary for days at a time.

Travel Facts

Getting there

Mandurah is less than an hour south of Perth. When driving, travel the Kwinana freeway south, easily accessible from many points in Perth, and exit at Mandjoogoordap Drive. Trains and buses operate between the two cities and depart from the Perth city centre. www.transperth.wa.gov.au

Staying there

Mandurah and the Peel Region has a range of accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets. There is a choice of resort hotels, caravan and camping facilities, charming bed and breakfast accommodation, self-contained apartments, forest cabins and even houseboats for hire.

Getting around

Buses operate around Mandurah, but if you want to explore the Peel Region extensively you can hire a car or join a tour. Taxis and Uber drivers are also available in Mandurah.

When to go

The Peel Region can be visited any time of the year. Being on the coast, it’s spectacular in spring and in summer. But during winter, the scenery is amazing. You can find something to do all year around.

Further Information on Mandurah and the Peel Region visit www.visitpeel.com.au

Railway

Savour top food on railway journey

Pumpkin and Spinach Filo served with seasonal salad and Balsamic Dressing along with Caramel Mousse for dessert – I’ve never tasted railway food this good!

I’d boarded the Spirit of Queensland at Maryborough West the evening before bound for North Queensland and barely had time to settle when staff delivered Beef Medallion with roasted potato and veggies for dinner, directly to my seat.  

On picking up the cutlery, I was transported back more than 40 years to when I used a small pocket knife to cut a fruit cake to share with my travelling friend Rose.

Rose and I were the only passengers on the old wooden freight train running between Barcaldine and Rockhampton in Central Queensland.

Both daughters of railway workers, we were looking for adventure and chose the familiar transport. The fruit cake we brought with us was our only food.

Since then I’ve enjoyed many rail journeys, among them on Queensland’s Tilt Train, Spirit of the Outback, and Tasmania’s West Coast Wilderness Railway between Queenstown and Strahan.

However, before this month’s 17-hour trip from Maryborough to Tully, I’d never experienced long distance rail travel in Business Class. I’ve always taken Economy seats or, on overnight journeys, bunked in Sleeper Cabins.

This time I was keen to try one of the new RailBeds I’d seen on Queensland Rail’s website. Basically, a RailBed is a large set by day that converts to a flat bed by night.

They’re placed three abreast, two on one side of the aisle and one on the other. 

The RailBed Car had an airline feel to it with a trolley service for meals and complimentary drink upon arrival. A Club Car was nearby to purchase other drinks and snacks.  

I could watch movies on an individual screen and there was even a 24-Volt Power Point on my chair armrests to recharge my mobile phone.

Pressing an orange button above my seat alerted staff that I was ready for bed. They flipped the seat to convert it to a mattress and even made my bed.

A shower pack and towel was provided if I wanted to freshen up before turning in for the night. As with airlines, the Car’s lights were dimmed and curtains closed.

In the morning, I only had to press the orange button again and staff converted my bed back to a seat.

While the seat was quite firm and the footrest too far away for my short legs to reach, overall my first RailBed experience was comfortable, the service was awesome and the food absolutely terrific. All meals were included in the package price. 

For anyone travelling from Brisbane to Cairns and/or return, if you can spare a day to sit back and relax, choosing a Spirit of Queensland RailBed is an excellent alternative to an air flight.

Railway

Gordon River Cruises, Tasmania

World first for new Gordon River Cruises vessel

As the building of the new vessel for Gordon River Cruises on Tasmania’s west coast continues to progress, now is a great time to reveal an exciting world-first for the company.

The vessel will be fitted with both diesel engines and electric motors, meaning the operator can switch between one or the other or both, depending on the location of the vessel at the time and the prevailing weather conditions.

This will reduce fuel consumption and its impact on the environment.

In addition, and perhaps the most exciting, when the cruise enters the Gordon River, the diesel propulsion engines can be switched off, leaving only the electric drive.

This means guests on-board will enjoy a cruising experience like nothing that has ever been available in Tasmania’s world heritage area before – quiet cruising and completely in keeping with the values of this remarkable place.

Gordon River Cruises believe this is the first commercial passenger vessel of its kind in the world and is pleased to bring this experience to members, other Tasmanians and visitors to the island state.

The hybrid drive system has been developed by one of the world’s leaders in marine propulsion – MTU, based in Germany. Right now there is only one other vessel with this same drive package – a spectacular private yacht recently launched and cruising in the Caribbean.

The new Gordon River Cruises vessel is due to launch in April 2018.

For more details and to watch the video visit gordonrivercruises.com.au/2018.

humpback

Listen: Hear humpback whales sing at Hervey Bay!

Add a new dimension to your whale watching experience by visiting Hervey Bay in September – it’s the best time to hear humpback whales sing.

Pacific Whale Foundation senior research biologist Stephanie Stack said only mature whales sang and this month was when most started arriving in Hervey Bay for their migratory stopover.

She said songs would typically last for about 20 minutes but individual whales might sing incomplete songs or repeat songs several times. 

Humpback whales can sing for hours on end. Singers will surface every 10 to 20 minutes and keep singing with only short pauses to breathe,” Ms Stack said.

“Songs have a hierarchical organization with ‘units’ building into ‘phrases’ which, in turn, form ‘themes’ which, together, comprise the song.”

She said there was no consensus in the scientific community about the function of whale songs but communicating underwater was challenging.

“Light and smells don’t travel well but sound moves about four times faster in water than in air, which means marine mammals often use sounds to communicate,” Ms Stack explained.

“Most song occurs in breeding areas, but song has also been recorded along migration routes and even occasionally in feeding areas.”

Ms Stack said there were several theories about the purpose of humpback whale song including attracting females to individual singers or a group and communicating with other mature whales for dominance or cooperation.

“Female humpbacks rarely approach singing males, suggesting the song may represent a form of male-male acoustic display,” Ms Stack said.

She said noise pollution was a growing concern for researchers.

“Increasing noise in the ocean could cause a disruption of natural whale behaviour such as feeding, mating and communication.”

Pacific Whale Foundation researchers using underwater microphones, known as hydrophones, have recorded rare white humpback whale Migaloo singing in Hervey Bay.

“Some mature males may arrive early while others may remain longer, meaning song could potentially be heard in Hervey Bay at any point during the season.”

Father's Day

Top Tips for a Tip-Top Dad’s Day in Melbourne

 

 


From sporting types to culture kings and dads with a hipster edge, Melbourne has something to tickle the fancy of fathers from all walks of life. With all of the following and more to choose from, there is no excuse not to make this Father’s Day (3 September 2017) one to remember.


Sporty Dad

As Australia’s sporting capital, Melbourne boasts a plethora of sports for dads to get involved in, whether he’s an active dad or more the spectating type. Australia’s greatest sporting moments are immortalised at the National Sports Museum, and a trip here is sure to ignite Dad’s passion. While he reminisces about ‘that’ sporting moment, kids can put their skills to the test in the interactive gallery, Game On! The museum is housed below the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and with no matches scheduled for Father’s Day, families can take a tour of the iconic venue. Covering otherwise off-limits areas, from the player change rooms to the edge of the hallowed turf, the tour offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the stadium’s inner sanctum.Melbourne Bike Share invites cyclists to make the most of the city’s cycle paths –while practicing for Cadel Evans’ Great Ocean Road Race, set to return in January 2018. After dropping the bikes off near Melbourne Park, tennis-loving fathers can hire a court and have a hit on the very surface that Federer, Djokovic, Murray and the like play on during the Australian Open. Out of town: Phillip Island is the destination for sporty dads as it is full of family-friendly adventure activities. Here, Dad and the kids can surf, fish and zoom around the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit Go Kart Track.


Hipster Dad

Forget breakfast in bed, Hipster Dad would prefer to eat his organic free range eggs at one of Fitzroy or Collingwood’s uber cool cafes. Archie’s All Day Diner and Industry Beans are solid options. Both are near to the Rose Street Market where a gamut of hand-crafted gifts can be found for last-minute sons and daughters. 

Father’s Day is Family Day at Collingwood Children’s Farm where pony rides, tractor rides, guinea pig cuddles and the chance to help milk the cow are all on offer. Hipster dads will feel right at home, sipping a takeaway coffee from The Farm Cafe while the kids make the most of the activities.  

Older kids can join dad for an afternoon or evening performance of The Book of Mormon at the Princess Theatre (on until 4 November 2017). The first musical by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, this cheeky production has received rave reviews all over the globe. 

Out of town: A country drive to Kyneton makes for a memorable family outing. The main village on Piper Street is oozing with rustic charm and gourmet eateries. Those looking to make a weekend of it can find a house to stay at among the eight luxury Flop House properties dotted around the region.


Culture Kings

The Australian Centre of the Moving Image (ACMI) has Father’s Day sorted for dads with a bent for art and culture. Currently showing Wallace and Gromit & Friends: the Magic of Aardman (until 29 October 2017), the whole family can venture behind the scenes of one of the world’s most-loved animation studios. 

As part of its Family Sundays program, ACMI will host Smart Stories, where families can learn how to generate a choose-your-own adventure narrative, write and animate their own storybook, craft a comic book and take part in an interactive storytelling session. Award-winning children’s author and illustrator Shaun Tan will also give a brief talk on writing and illustrating at 11am.

A 20 minute drive from the city, Heide Museum of Modern Art will enthral culture kings with its contemporary art displayed across three gallery spaces. Dad can take in its current exhibition Call of the Avant-Garde: Constructivism and Australian Art (until 8 October 2017), while the kids take on the Heide Detective challenge. Heide is renowned for its expansive gardens dotted with sculptures, and a stroll through the grounds is a must.

Disney’s Aladdin – the hit musical – is captivating audiences of all ages at Her Majesty’s Theatre (on until 3 December 2017). Touted as ‘The must see show of the year’, cultural dads will dig an evening (or matinee) performance. 

Out of town: Castlemaine is renowned for its eclectic arts scene set amid a history rich in gold. Dad can check out local artists’ studios and see major Australian and international works at the Castlemaine Art Musem before stopping in at The Mill for a coffee or beer.

paddle-wheeler

Cruise the Murray River on a paddle-wheeler

Step back in time to when the paddle-wheeler dominated the Murray River and get up close and personal with the ancient land on-board Captain Cook Cruises.  

Finished with polished wood and gold trimmings and featuring a winding staircase, full-length windows and a paddle-wheel encased in glass, the PS Murray Princess replicates the paddle-wheelers that first cruised the Murray in the 1800’s. 

Then cruise down the Murray River for incredible terrain, wildlife and Australian history, culture and adventure.

Bird watchers will love the abundance of Australian birds along the Murray River including Swans, Swamp Hens and Wood Ducks and their young.

Each day features exciting day trips to historic ports and guided nature walks to learn about the ecology of the river. The four and seven-night cruise visits a sacred Aboriginal site, sheep station and wool shed and a native wildlife shelter.

Follow the food and wine trail for tastings at several vineyards and cellar doors or sample some local food and wine with tastings in the Sturt Dining Room and learn more about the Murray and Riverland regions and their produce.

Get up close to the river, its 20-million-year-old cliffs and amazing plant and bird life including darters, herons, pelicans and egrets on the ‘Dragon-Fly’ flat-bottomed boat.

Join the Captain for a general inspection of the wheelhouse, participate in a lively music quiz, play some bocce on the riverbank or relax with some fishing off the vessel.

On-board sit back in one of two air-conditioned paddle-wheel lounges and watch the working paddle-wheel through a spectacular two-story glass window while enjoying the amazing views as the Murray Princess cruises past towering limestone cliffs and along riverbanks lined with mallee scrub and red gum forests.

Food is another highlight of the cruise. Indulge a hearty hot buffet breakfast each morning, a two-course or buffet lunch each day and a three-course or buffet dinner each evening. There is a spectacular Captain’s dinner and dance to enjoy and even an Aussie-style barbecue dinner and bush dance on the river bank.

For further information visit www.murrayprincess.com.au