Friday, 16 April 2021

Turning back time as a new whisky makes it debut

Meet Bad Boy Billy, the first whisky to be made in the Geelong region for four decades that will be released on April 26. 

Billy is the first barrel of single malt whisky from Bellarine Distillery. 

The release maintains the tradition of naming their products after the family’s four-legged friends with the honour of the first barrel goes to Billy the Staffordshire terrier distillery dog.

 Bad Boy Billy will be the first whisky to be made, matured and bottled in the Geelong region since the closure of Corio Distillery in the 1980s.


Bellarine Distillery was established in 2015 by Russell Watson & Lorelle Warren, with the dream of making a single malt whisky.


Commercial production began in 2017, when distillery manager Craig Michael joined the team and in 2019 he and his wife Nicky came on board as business partners.


While Bellarine Distillery’s much anticipated whisky was maturing, the team were working on releasing their award-winning gin range.


Bellarine Distillery’s cellar door, The Whiskery, opened in 2018 and has proved immensely popular in showcasing the gin range, including the popular Teddy & The Fox. 

“Since opening early 2018, the cellar door has proven to be a popular venue for visitors both local and far and wide, with our gin products now being sent all over Australia,” says Russell Watson. 


“From the beginning, however, the dream was to produce our own single malt whisky, made, matured and bottled on the Bellarine.” 


Bad Boy Billy - a single-cask release - will produce a very limited number of bottles but the team has been constantly laying down barrels to secure greater volume releases in the future.



Thursday, 15 April 2021

Reyne falls for new Coopers beer release

Family-owned Adelaide brewers Coopers are releasing a new IPA they say is distinctly Australian in flavour. 

The full-flavoured beer uses a blend of Australian exotic hops with citrus notes of mandarin and orange as well as piney and passionfruit characteristics.

And one of the most iconic voices of Australian rock is getting behind it.

Legendary Australian singer songwriter James Reyne is helping launch the beer by featuring in an upcoming creative campaign shot at the iconic Silverton Hotel in Broken Hill (where Mad Max was originally filmed) and performing at a series of trade events being held across the country in April.

Managing director and chief brewer Dr Tim Cooper said the brewing team had spent many months honing the unique hops blend to develop a distinctly Australian take on the traditional IPA. 

“IPAs continue to grow in popularity among craft beer drinkers,” he said. “Australians are also turning to local brands they know and trust. So while there is a large number of overseas styles in the market, we saw demand for a great tasting IPA with a distinct local touch. 

“We’re very mindful about when to bring out a new beer and an enormous amount of time goes into getting it right. We’ve come up with a great tasting Australian IPA that will suit any occasion.” 

Former Australian Crawl frontman Reyne was one of the first artists to take part in the current Coopers Live, Loud and Local series, started last year to support pubs and musicians recover from the Covid-19 shutdowns. 

The ideal waterfront escape for Sydney residents

Recently opened: What sounds like a perfect country retreat for jaded Sydneysiders.

Marramarra Lodge, set on the Hawkesbury River and fringed by national park, offers a barefoot luxury experience for couples, surrounded by nature.

The newly-built lodge is set in bushland with boat access from Mooney Mooney and Brooklyn – just north of Sydney, approximately an hour’s drive from the city centre.

Marramarra Lodge has been designed to deliver an authentic, yet luxurious Australian nature experience. 

The lodge is located at Fisherman’s Point across from Bar Island. The property is framed by the Marramarra National Park. 

The property caters to a maximum of 28 guests with an all-inclusive experience including transfers to Marramarra via boat, daily meals incorporating a six-course degustation dinner with paired wines at the on-site restaurant Budyari (meaning “good’ and “well” in the Dharug language), daily sunset canapes and cocktail tour and a locally sourced mini-bar menu. Overnight rates start from $1,250 including gourmets breakfasts and light lunches.gourmet breakfast, light lunch daily,gourmet breakfast, light lunch daily,.
There are two styles of accommodation, including the Peninsula Tent, a river-safari experience overlooking the water, and the Hawkesbury Bungalow, minimalist cabin lodgings with bush and river backdrops. 

Both accommodation options offer large river-stone bathrooms, locally-sourced timber floors and luxurious furnishings. 

The rear glass veranda doors of each accommodation unit open to a private balcony made for lounging and enjoying moments of river life.

The property’s Day Spa, Iyora, offers a range of treatments for in-house guests, and each of the accommodation lodgings are named after Dharug words for flora and fauna native to the area.

There is an outdoor swimming pool and lounging area, riverside boat shed (above) with private jetty and games room.

For guests that want to fly or arrive in their own boat, Marramarra Lodge has its own helipad and private jetty, so is accessible by private helicopter charter, private boat or via Sydney Seaplanes.

Marramarra’s main lodge and buildings enjoy a long and rich history. 
Carter House, still on the property, was first built in the 1920s. 

There are a number of bush walks that run from the grounds and visitors may spot sea eagles, lyrebirds, wallabies, goannas, bandicoots, black and white cockatoos and kookaburras. 

There are a variety of add-on experiences guests can choose from, including a local pearl farm tour, helicopter ride to the Hunter Valley for lunch and private wine tasting, a gin distillery day trip, or bush foraging in the Marramarra National Park with a local Dharug Elder. 

Transfers can also be arranged to local water-access-only restaurants such as Berowra Waters Inn and Peats Bite.

Complimentary kayaks, canoes, paddle boards and fishing rods are available for guest use. My invitation is no doubt in the mail. 

For further information on packages see

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

The perfect party venue for multi-millionaires and their friends

So you are ridiculously rich and want to hold an extravagant party for a couple of hundred of your nearest and dearest friends?

How about exclusive use of a five-star resort in the Maldives?

The five-star Kuredhivaru Maldives Resort is available on an exclusive basis - for guests with deep pockets or maybe a superstar with an album to launch.

The lucky rich dude and his or her mates will gain exclusive use of facilities that include 105 private villas, suites and residences located both over-water and on the beach as well as four restaurants, lounge bars and cafes, the Bodumas over-water seafood restaurant, and Latitude 5.5 poolside grill..

The Movenpick-managed resort also features a five-star PADI dive and watersports centre, Sun Spa by Healing Earth, and recreational facilities such as tennis and volleyball courts, Travel Mole reports.

It is priced from US$930,000 per three-night stay between May 10 - September 30, 2021; US$999,000 between November 1 - December 23, 2021, and from US$1,014,000 per three nights between October 1-31, 2021.

The resort comes with an all-Inclusive meal plan, unlimited non-motorized water sports and free snorkelling gear rental, and a choice of accommodation. 

The island getaway has been the subject of recent legal action over its lease.  

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Forget the plane; catch the train

France has moved to scrap domestic airline flights on any route that can be travelled by direct train in under 2 1/2 hours.

French MPs made the decision as part of a series of environmental measures, The Guardian reported.

After a heated debate in the Assemblée Nationale at the weekend, the ban, a watered-down version of a key recommendation from President Emmanuel Macron’s citizens’ climate convention, was adopted.

It will mean the end of short internal flights from Orly airport, south of Paris, to Nantes, Lyon and Bordeaux among others, though connecting flights through Charles de Gaulle/Roissy airport, north of the French capital, will continue.

The climate commission set up by Macron had originally recommended the scrapping of all flights between French destinations where an alternative direct train journey of less than four hours existed.

This was reduced to 2 1/2 hours after strong objections from certain regions and from Air France-KLM, which, like other airlines, has been badly hit by local and international Covid-19 restrictions on travel.

A year ago, the French government agreed a €7bn loan for AF-KLM on the condition that certain internal flights were dropped, but the decree will also stop low-cost airlines from operating the banned domestic routes.

The chief executive of Air France-KLM, Benjamin Smith, has said the airline is committed to reducing the number of its French domestic routes by 40% by the end of this year.

The transport minister, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, told MPs: “We have chosen 2 1/2 hours because four hours risks isolating landlocked territories including the greater Massif Central, which would be iniquitous.”

Given the speed and efficiency of the French railways system, I have always preferred trains to planes for domestic journeys.

Details of the exact routes that will be halted will be published in the official decree. Flights from Paris to Nice, which takes about six hours by train, and Toulouse, four hours by train, will continue.

France’s new law will be watched closely by other countries. Austria’s coalition conservative-Green government introduced a €30 tax on airline tickets for flights of less than 217 miles (350km) last June and a ban on domestic flights that could be travelled in less than three hours by train.

Monday, 12 April 2021

Swiss roll out. A second Mövenpick hotel in Australia

The first Mövenpick hotel in Australia proved a huge success when it opened in Hobart in January. 

Now Accor, together with Singapore’s Fragrance Group Limited, is to open Australia’s second Mövenpick hotel with the unveiling  of Mövenpick Hotel Melbourne on Spencer next month. 

Situated at the meeting point of Melbourne’s Spencer and Bourke Streets in the CBD, the 172-room premium hotel will highlight  a dedicated cafe serving the brand’s signature ice cream, modern South East Asian cuisine at Miss Mi restaurant and bar (below) and a daily Chocolate Hour along with a 25-metre swimming pool, sauna, gymnasium, and a boardroom.

Mövenpick Hotel Melbourne on Spencer will form the six-level podium of the striking 78-storey Elenberg Fraser architect-designed Premier Tower development.


Simon McGrath, CEO Accor Pacific, says: “We’re delighted to be bringing the Mövenpick hotel brand to Melbourne. This investment will benefit the local community by providing a choice of even greater accommodation options for visitors to the city and for Accor loyalty guests. 

"The city of Melbourne is the perfect location for a Mövenpick hotel, enriching Melbourne’s incredible culinary scene with an outstanding restaurant and bar, and masterfully blending the brand’s Swiss heritage with a top-quality hospitality experience.”

Mövenpick Hotel Melbourne on Spencer is just a short stroll from Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium, Queen Victoria Markets and Marvel Stadium. 

With a Swiss heritage dating back to the 1940s, Mövenpick Hotel Melbourne on Spencer joins some of the world’s finest hotels including Mövenpick Resort & Spa Jimbaran Bali, Mövenpick Resort Kuredhivaru Maldives, Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea, Mövenpick Hotel Sukhumvit 15 Bangkok, Grand Plaza Mövenpick Dubai Media City UAE, Mövenpick Hotel Amsterdam City Centre, Mövenpick Hotel The Hague and Mövenpick Hotel Hobart. 


Opening Special: From $240* per night in a Superior King or Twin Room including a Chocolate Hour experience for two on one afternoon. To book, visit


Sunday, 11 April 2021

Explore the Australian coast on the the world's largest sailing ship

The largest sailing ship ever built will make its Australian debut next southern summer.

The spectacular SV Golden Horizon is a steel-hulled five-masted barque rigged tall ship, whose design is based on France, a famous French five-mast cargo windjammer built in 1911.

Australians are being offered a Rail and Sail package combining a cruise on the Golden Horizon and a journey on the iconic Indian Pacific tr

Golden Horizon - operated by Tradewind Voyages - will arrive in Australia for the first time in December. The Croatian built, Malta-registered ship can carry 272 passengers and a crew of up to 139.

Cruise Traveller’s 16-night ‘Rail and Sail Remote Southwestern Australia’ package begins in Sydney on January 19, 2022, with an overnight journey aboard the legendary Indian Pacific train to Adelaide with onboard meals and drinks included along with an excursion in Broken Hill. 

Two nights in an Adelaide hotel follow before guests board the majestic, 272-guest tall ship, Golden Horizon, for a 13-night voyage to Perth.

The voyage from Adelaide to Perth aboard the 162-metre ship will feature eight destinations along Australia’s southern coast, including small and remote places not visited by larger ships, including wildlife-rich Kangaroo Island, oyster capital Coffin Bay, and Head of Bight - a spectacular bay in the Great Australian Bight lined by the longest stretch of uninterrupted sea cliffs in the world, the Bunda Cliffs. 

The voyage also features Esperance – home to some of Australia’s whitest beaches - the rugged beauty of Israelite Bay, the fishing village of Bremer Bay, the pretty coastal town of Albany and Busselton – gateway to the famous Margaret River wine region.

The holiday ends in Perth with a flight back to Sydney. The special 16-night rail and sail package is available from $10,575 per person, twin-share, ex Sydney, including transfers and beer and wine with lunch and dinner aboard the ship.

The vessel has a fine dining room, three pools, gym, library, spa sanctuary, four bars, a marina platform and a collection of kayaks and wakeboards for guests to use. 

All 140 cabins will offer ocean views.

During her inaugural visit to Australia this summer, Golden Horizon will circumnavigate the continent between December and next February, with Cruise Traveller offering a range of sectors from 14 to 73 nights. 

Call Cruise Traveller on 1800 507 777 or visit