Book, stay, enjoy. That's

Saturday 31 October 2020

Couples can go off grid in luxury in rural New South Wales

It will probably still be a few months before this Tasmanian resident is willing to risk travel to New South Wales, but when I do I will have Wilga Station on my "to do" list. 

Wilga Station, outside Bathurst, has just opened luxury accommodation for couples on its 260-acre working sheep farm. 

Perched on the highest vantage point is The Farmers Hut - 100% off-grid, with a unique grass roof, and a cleverly designed three-sided window set daybed with stunning views for sunrise, sunset and star-filled skies. 

There is a wood fireplace, king- size bed, kitchenette, designer bathroom and a sheltered barbecue area. 

The property is 12 minutes' drive from Bathurst and 40 minutes from Orange and has its own walking tracks and a willow-lined creek. Guests are invited to tuck into toasted marshmallows and local wine at night.

On the drawing boards is The Shearers Hall (opening autumn 2021). Formerly a working shearing shed, it's being transformed into a luxurious, five-bedroom country retreat for up to 10 guests.

Tariffs for the couples' retreat include a complimentary antipasto platter, premium bottle of wine from a local vineyard and gourmet breakfast hamper. 

Wilga Station has been home to the Keith family for three generations. For details see  

Friday 30 October 2020

A delightful country experience just an hour from Hobart

Fancy an old-style bed and breakfast stay in an elegant Tasmanian heritage homestead with a fascinating history? 

Or maybe a budget break in old shearers' cottages with en suite bathrooms in the heart of a historic working sheep farm? 

Perhaps a stay in a self-contained one-bedroom rural cottage with up to six friends? 

Alternatively how about getting a few friends together for a pay two/stay three deal.

All are among the many possibilities at Rathmore Accommodation, a "rustic chic" destination just a one-hour drive from Hobart but in the heart of the Derwent Valley countryside. 

This is a real country experience. You'll need to make sure the front gate is closed to prevent the sheep from escaping; a couple of roosters and their flocks roam freely and many guests report sightings of platypi on the property's dam. Some of the resident horses enjoy a carrot or two from guests.

Dinner can be enjoyed in the guest house, or ordered to “heat and eat” or cook on a barbecue, campfire or slow cooker. There are also a couple of nearby pubs.

Hampers or cheese and charcuterie platters for a barn or Dew Rivulet picnic can be arranged with advanced notice. You have 37 hectares to explore. Wine and art retreats are held occasionally. 

Those staying in the main house may have to share bathrooms if the property is full - a small price to pay for such generous hospitality as that provided by owners Richard and Cally Lyons. Sole use bathrooms can be arranged, so ask.

The Georgian homestead has been beautifully restored, with four guest rooms available for stays of two nights or more and a delightful shared lounge.

There are three outdoor campfire and barbecues available for those staying in the shearers' cottage and post-Covid three nights for the price of two deals are available for groups.

When it rains, the peaceful Dew Rivulet that runs through the property turns into a roaring torrent. At other times you can fish for trout and enjoy the bird and wildlife.

A great experience for city kids of all ages, who will enjoy exploring old sheds and outdoor dunnies.    

There are several gourmet diversions on the way in or out: including The Agrarian Kitchen in New Norfolk, The Larder at Sfefano Lubiana Wines and stunning Lawrenny Distillery for gin and whisky tasting just down the road.

Rathmore is at 2158 Hollow Tree Rd, Hollow Tree, TAS 7140.        

Thursday 29 October 2020

A Little Giant doing its bit for native wildlife

 Little Giant Wine has partnered with wildlife rescue organisation WIRES to support the work it does in rescuing and treating wombats who are facing increasing threats from habitat loss, vehicle collisions and disease.

Little Giant Wine’s birthplace is South Australia, where the southern hairy-nosed wombat reigns and features as one of the seven emblems of the state. 

“Just like the wombat, little Giant Wine appears small and unassuming but is full of character," says Ross Marshall, general manager, Fourth Wave Wine.

"It is therefore very fitting for us to offer our support to WIRES to help these magnificent native creatures survive, grow and thrive.” 

The funding received from the sales of Little Giant goes towards helping WIRES, who help thousands of wombats who have suffered injuries from bushfires, vehicle collisions and a commonly occurring skin infection, mange, which if left untreated can cause a slow and painful death.


“We are incredibly grateful for the support of Little Giant Wine, whose contribution enables our volunteers to help sick and injured wombats grow up and live happy and healthy lives,” said Leanne Taylor, the CEO of WIRES.


Little Giant Wine is made from grapes grown in the Barossa, Eden Valley, Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale. The wines are made with minimal additions and preservatives. 

Little Giant Shiraz has achieved almost cult-like status with many of our customers who love it for its generosity of rich fruit flavours, its softness and serious drinkability," said Marshall. 

"A small and integrated addition of cooler grown, more elegant fruit of the Eden Valley to the blend gives added lift and freshness and our preference is for maturation time in older oak to add subtle vanilla and earthy notes that sit in support rather than upfront.” 


Little Giant Barossa Shiraz is available from major liquor retailers nationally with an RRP of $22.  The range also includes:  Little Giant  Adelaide Hills Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir;  Coonawarra Cabernet, McLaren Vale Grenache and Premium Barossa Shiraz ($32). 


For further information visit: 

Wednesday 28 October 2020

Rock 'n' roll hotel brand lives on with a new guise

Back in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, the Sebel Townhouse Hotel was one of the trendiest places to stay in Sydney - and was much loved by rock stars and celebrities. 

Constructed in 1963, the Sebel was part of the nightlife precinct in and around Kings Cross and hosted guests including Elton John, David Bowie and Dire Straits. In 1984, it was the venue for the reception of Elton's wedding to Renate Blauel. 

Nowadays the Sebel name lives on as a brand in the Accor group and The Sebel will reach 35 properties in the Pacific with the announcement three new The Sebel hotels are set to open in Australia and New Zealand within the next 12 months.

The new hotels are the The Sebel Yarrawonga (2020, below), The Sebel Melbourne Ringwood (2021), and The Sebel Wellington Lower Hutt (2021).

“The expansion of The Sebel brand in Australia and New Zealand will deliver benefits for guests, loyalty members and their communities," said Simon McGrath AM, Chief Executive Officer for Accor Pacific. 

“The Sebel is a leading premium brand with a strong reputation for delivering exceptional accommodation and an outstanding service experience. 

"Trusted brands, like The Sebel, bring quality and credibility to the serviced apartments sector, which has been rapidly growing in popularity. We are expecting to see a boom in this area, particularly in the current climate, as serviced apartments limit unnecessary contact with other guests and offer a safe and secure way to travel.

“Each of these hotels will have significant impacts locally, driving employment and tourism to each location. Accor continues to expand its offerings across Australia and New Zealand - the Pacific is a strong region and the future of travel is bright.”

The Sebel Yarrawonga opens on November 1 in the picturesque Murray River region adjacent to Silverwoods Golf and Lifestyle Resort. 

It is situated an hours' drive from Albury town centre, a three-hour drive from Melbourne and five hours from Sydney. The property has 63 studios rooms and apartments, with a further 54 rooms expected in stage two of the development in 2022-2023.  

For more information and to book, visit

Some welcome news for the Australian wine industry

Steady demand for Australian wine around the world has seen growth in value to all top-five export markets and a 4% increase in overall value to $2.998 billion, Wine Australia’s latest Export Report reveals. 

In the 12 months ended September 2020, the average value of Australian wine exports increased by 4% to $3.89 per litre, matching the growth of overall value. 

The volume of exports declined slightly by 0.4% to 771 million litres (85.7 million cases).

Wine Australia Chief Executive Officer Andreas Clark said the overall value is at the highest level since exports reached $3 billion in the second half of calendar year 2007.

"Despite the unprecedented disruption that we’ve seen in markets around the world, Australian wine export volume has held reasonably steady and it is particularly pleasing to see both the overall value and the average value of exports growing during these challenging times." Clark said.

The growth in value was predominantly driven by exports to the United Kingdom and mainland China. And that growth has been particularly strong in the last quarter of the 12-month period.

"During the July to September 2020 quarter, the value of exports increased by 23% compared to the same period in 2019, and this comes after declines of 4% in the April to June quarter and 7% in the January to March quarter," Clark said.

"Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been clear trends for wine consumption emerging around the world. 

"While premiumisation has continued, there has also been a resurgence in commercial wines, and this is evident in the growth that we’ve seen in different price segments, where it was particularly strong at the low and high ends.

‘Different markets have had different trends. In markets such as the UK and USA, growth was primarily at the commercial/value end, while in China growth for premium wines has remained strong this year."

Exports in glass bottles increased by 2% in value to $2.4 billion and decreased by 3% in volume to 336 million litres. 

Over the past 12 months, Australian exporters shipped wine to 117 destinations. The top five destinations by value all recorded growth. They were: China, USA, UK, Canada and New Zealand. 

Tuesday 27 October 2020

Get crafty now Tasmania has reopened its doors

Tasmania has re-opened its doors and is welcoming  back Australian travellers from Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. 

The Tasmanian Government continues to monitor the situation in New South Wales, with the hope that border restrictions may ease in early November. 

Tourism Tasmania CEO John Fitzgerald says: “Tasmania is excited to welcome back visitors and provide them with a much-needed holiday. Tasmania has bucket loads of character that no other destination in Australia offers. 

"Tasmanians are creative bunch so it’s fantastic to see new and unique experiences being developed during 2020 for visitors to now come and enjoy. Our passionate tourism industry are ready to greet visitors safely, but with our customary warm Tassie welcome.” 

Among the new events for both locals and visitors are two arts and crafts fairs on the same week in December; from December 4-6.

Artists and Makers of the Huon - Art and Wine Trail sees local artisans join forces with two local wineries to welcome visitors to the Huon Valley, south of Hobart. 

This offers a rare opportunity to visit some of the secret studios hidden away in the valley and visit the artists in their creative environments. 

Each of the participating business has implemented a Covid-19 safety plan. 

Participating wineries and artists include: Kate Hill Wines, Home Hill Winery, Lisa Britzman at Campo de Flori Ceramics, Ross Patston-Gill, Brian Looker , Henrietta Manning, Bronwyn Clarke, Lysbeth Driessen, David Rauenbusch of Phoenix Creations (pictured above) and Richard Stanley.

In Hobart, the designed:made - makers market will take place in Hobart's historic Town Hall and will feature some of Tasmania's best emerging and established designers.

This design market is rapidly gaining a reputation as one of Tasmania's best market style events for high quality craft and design. 

Organised by designed:made inc. the design market includes a wide range of work including furniture, jewellery, ceramics, glass, textiles, prints and more, with nearly 40 designers and makers present, including Sonja Cook (wallaby leather bags, above).

The stall holders are selected to ensure a mix of both established and emerging designers and makers, so there is always new and interesting work on display.

“This makers market showcases what talent Tasmania has to offer with high quality designed objects made in a host of different mediums. The event brings together a unique range of product which often is hard to access, and meeting the maker directly, definitely adds to the experience," said Linda Fredheim, one of the event organisers.

"2020 has been a difficult year for many of Tasmania’s designers and makers. With galleries and markets closed, and general widespread uncertainty, artists and designers have struggled financially and creatively. Everyone has had to adapt. Lots of our designers took the opportunity to completely rethink their practice, and used the time to develop new processes and perfect new techniques.”


Monday 26 October 2020

Winemakers band together to sell a taste of Tasmania

group of leading Tasmanian wine brand owners have formed a partnership, together with a locally based marketing specialist, to launch online wine sales platform Wines of Tasmania.

Each month, a selection of exceptional, rare and hard-to-find wines from Tasmania’s best wine producers are blind-tasted by a panel of wine industry experts. 

The best are then chosen to be included in a monthly subscription box - aimed at spreading the word about Tasmania's benchmark wines.

The business was conceived out of the Covid-19 pandemic when the border to Tasmania closed and face-to-face cellar door sales essentially ceased. 

Katrina Myburgh, founder and managing director of Wines of Tasmania said: “I saw an opportunity to build a quality umbrella brand that would select the finest wines, package them beautifully, and share them with people who have not had much exposure to Tasmanian wine, knowing that they would be blown away, by every single bottle."


Katrina pitched the idea to a group of Tasmanian wine industry leaders who joined Katrina to form the company Wines of Tasmania Families P/L: Fran Austin and Shane Holloway from Delamere Vineyards; Bec and Tim Duffy from Holm Oak; Linda Morice (and the late Vaughn Dell) from Sinapius; and Fiona Weller and Julian Allport from Moores Hill.


“It would only work if they [Delamere, Holm Oak, Sinapius, Moores Hill] agreed that the common goal was to build the reputation of the Tasmania wine industry and not just their individual brands, despite the flow-on effect from which they would benefit,” said Myburgh. 

“Their direct involvement as reputable wine brands also provided the necessary credibility for other producers to get on board.”

Wines of Tasmania launched in September 2020 and has featured iconic Tasmanian wine brands including Dr-Edge, BelleBonne, Freycinet Vineyards, Derwent Estate, Mewstone, Marion’s Vineyard and Two Tonne Tasmania. Henskens Rankin, Pooley and Stefano Lubiana Wines are lined up to be included in the coming months.


Linda Morice, owner at Sinapius, said: “When Katrina came to Vaughn and I earlier this year, we immediately thought it made sense. There was so much uncertainty as a fair amount of our wine sales are made through our cellar door. 

"Without those tourists turning up on our doorstep, and the fact we don’t do a lot of marketing, we needed to find another way to get our wine out there. Vaughn was on board and we were excited at the prospect to work collaboratively with other like-minded, quality-focused and value-driven wine brands”.


Sadly, within a week of Vaughn and Linda agreeing to join Wines of Tasmania, Vaughn passed away in his sleep, at just 39 years of age, from an undiagnosed heart condition.


“Safe to say, this year has been really tough,” said Linda. “I have my days, that’s for sure. But the Wines of Tasmania business has helped me focus on continuing the Sinapius legacy that Vaughn and I created. 

"Our brand is very much aligned with Wines of Tasmania – rare, select, hard-to-find, exceptional wines. That’s us. We’re not big. We’re not found everywhere, either. We simply want to make the best possible wine and ensure wine lovers have access to it.”


Fran Austin, co-owner and winemaker at Delamere Vineyards could immediately see the benefit of bringing like-minded industry colleagues together. 

“There’s that saying ‘we’re stronger, together’ which I think sums up Wines of Tasmania," she said. "So often we get bogged down in the detail of our own businesses and can’t see the bigger picture.


“We all have similar views and values when it comes to growing, making and promoting quality Tasmanian wine, so when we’ve come to the table in recent months to build the business plan, we’ve been able share our own experiences from the past couple of decades and solve a lot more than if we were trying to achieve that on our own,” said Fran.


Currently Wines of Tasmania is geared at a niche domestic audience, however, there are plans to take it further into Asia Pacific, and beyond. 

For more information, visit


Coopers says farewell to Session Ale, Hello to Pacific Pale Ale

Coopers Brewery is tapping into Australia's love affair with the sun, surf and music by releasing
 Pacific Pale Ale in time for summer.

The launch will see the Australian family-owned brewery’s existing Session Ale renamed as Pacific Pale Ale with the new branded cans to be available nationally from late October.

As part of its national promotional campaign, Coopers has teamed up with renowned Australian singer/songwriter Angus Stone. 

With a striking blue label, Coopers Pacific Pale Ale is styled as "a fresh, sessionable and fruity ale with a distinct dry hop character and mild bitterness".

“It’s still the same great tasting beer in a blue can but with a new name that we feel better reflects its position in the growing craft beer category,” said Coopers marketing and innovation director Cam Pearce.

“We launched Session Ale in late 2017 and it quickly established itself as a popular drink among craft beer enthusiasts. 

"Since then the perception of the overall Session Ale category has evolved to now be more reflective of a mid-strength beer while Pacific has become identifiable with a style reflecting refreshment, flavour and fruitiness.

“So to better align with its category and reflect its refreshing, tropical flavour profile, we’ve changed the name to Pacific Pale Ale.”

Pacific Pale Ale will be sold in can format in six packs and cartons from all good bottle shops and will also be available on tap.

Sunday 25 October 2020

UPDATE: Why paper diaries remain popular

Like most people I use a mobile phone and my laptop to diarise my appointments. 

And most the time they sync perfectly and remind me about a Zoom wine tasting, or an appointment with the optometrist. 

Twice recently I've added appointments to my iPhone calendar. One vanished without a trace - the other shifted itself to a completely unrelated date. 

Which is why it is not only Luddites who keep written diary on their desk. There is something comforting about a classy paper diary - and it will not be subject to tech glitches no matter how many power failures you suffer from. 

That's why paper diaries have not only survived into the digital era, they have continued to thrive.

Paper diaries have been updated for the 21st century and what were once blank pages are now printed in an assortment of useful layouts which tell us what to write, where, and when. 

Whether it be for keeping you on schedule for meetings, organising a daily task list or simply reflecting on and noting down events of the day, keeping a handwritten diary remains a thing. 

Studies have shown, also, that the physical act of handwriting can have positive effects on memory retention – so you’re less likely to forget that meeting you had scheduled. 

Collins Debden, global leaders in stationery, diaries and planers recently sent me a lovely 2021 diary and notebook - along with a second pair to give away to one lucky reader of Gourmet on the Road. 

There are many different styles in the Collins Debden range, but I particularly like the Metropolitan Notebooks Sydney range - premium products without the hefty price tag. 

The diary has a vertical week view and three-year planners, a list of international holidays, international dialling codes and a time-zone map and is printed on premium Japanese Kinmari paper. There is room for making notes, too.

The sleek notebook design looks very professional with a premium bonded-leather cover and smooth finish, available in in both tan and charcoal. Prices start from $23.50. 

Collins diaries date back to Scotland in 1819 - meaning they have been used over two centuries. 

The full Collins range is available at Officeworks, newsagencies, bookstores and quality stationery stockists across Australia, or online at

# The winner of our competition was P. Flinn of Barwon Heads in Victoria, whose prize is on its way. 

Saturday 24 October 2020

New luxury Hobart hotel entices celebrity chef Mele

Celebrity chef  Massimo Mele will head up the culinary team as culinary director at a new hotel in the heart of Hobart.

A native Tasmanian with an international reputation and Italian roots, Mele will aim to bring his signature Italian warmth with a local Tasmanian twist to Parliament Square when the restaurant opens early next year.

Born in Tasmania and raised in Naples, Mele's career started at his parents' restaurant in Glenorchy and as an apprentice at Donovan's Restaurant in St Kilda.

He opened Mud Bar in Launceston, travelled widely and then worked at Hugo's Group and La Scala on Jersey back in Australia before overseeing the food at The Silos Hotel in Launceston.

“My first ever kitchen job was at my parent's restaurant and after years spent working in kitchens around the world it feels incredible to return to my roots and be involved in creating something special here in Hobart.

"Being back in Tasmania for the past couple of years with my family has given me the opportunity to go back to basics and reconnect with the land, educating myself and building strong relationships with some of the best producers in the state. 

"I really want this restaurant to celebrate that in a way that feels authentic to my values and passion as a chef.”

The yet-to-be-named restaurant will be located within the landmark Parliament Square project, also home to The Tasman, a Luxury Collection Hotel part of the Marriott Group. The heritage redevelopment connects Murray Street with Salamanca Place.

“We are proud to be partnering with a local Tasmanian chef to bring Hobart's rich local character to life," says Stephen Morahan, general manager for The Tasman.

The restaurant will open when The Tasman officially opens its door in 2021, offering a new cultural centre for Tasmania's capital city.

Friday 23 October 2020

Getting up close with Tasmania's devils

Natureworld, on the east coast of Tasmania at Bicheno, is a fabulous one-stop shop to get up close with Australian native animals, including wombats, quolls, bandicoots, kangaroos and wallabies. 

The stars of the show, however, are Tasmania's own fiery indigenous creatures: Tasmanian Devils. 

Natureworld is surrounded by lagoons, forests and ocean - and many of the animals have been rescued and are being returned back to full health. 

Three times a day, at 10am, noon and 2pm, a handler comes out to explain to visitors the history of the Tassie Devil - and its prodigious carnivorous appetite. 

I spent some time getting to know the Devils today. I hope you enjoy the images. 

Natureworld is at 18356a Tasmana Highway, Bicheno, Tasmania and is open from 9am-4.30pm daily.  

Thursday 22 October 2020

New hotel options blossom in Canada

I like Canada. It is like the US without the dickheads. morons and gun-toting imbeciles. 

Canadians are friendly and share many interests with Australians. 

Entrepreneurial Canadian hoteliers are forging ahead with new hotel properties and looking forward to welcoming Australian visitors when the time is right, guided by health regulations and clear border guidelines. 

From wilderness getaways to funky urban stays, read on for Canada's  latest hotel offerings.

Hotel Zed, Tofino

In the town of Tofino on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Hotel Zed opened its doors in late August 2020. With a luxurious take on retro-chic, Hotel Zed Tofino exudes 1970s swank, featuring the world's first bike-through lobby, a secret arcade with retro games (think Donkey Kong Jr and Pac Man), a psychic's den, complete with crystal ball and tarot card reader, and a mini disco featuring a fog machine, glittery sequin wall and mirrored disco ball.

Black Spruce Hotel, Yukon Territory

Four sustainabley-built cabins nestled in the forest above Yukon Gardens outside the city of Whitehorse make up the new Black Spruce Inn. With Japanese-style exterior design (including Shou Sugi-Ban wood preservation), straw bale insulation, local Yukon spruce interior detailing, fir flooring and organic sheets and towels, this retreat offers an unforgettable wilderness experience, perfectly positioned for outstanding northern lights viewing during autumn and winter.

Lac La Martre Lodge, NorthWest Territories

Perfectly primed for wildlife encounters and northern lights viewing, Lac Le Martre Lodge (top) in Canada's NorthWest Territories, has opened ill be open for the aurora season.Located on an island near the centre of one of the territory's largest lakes, the lodge is only accessible by seaplane. With nine comfortable guest cabins featuring full bathrooms and heating, as well as a main lodge and dining room, this beautiful island is home to free-roaming bear, moose, and wolves, with nature trails waiting to be explored.

The Constella, Red Mountain

The brand new Constella cabins at Red Mountain in British Columbia (above) offer the perfect back country experience. This collection of six cabins plus central clubhouse is situated in the aptly named Paradise Basin, offering on-mountain, ski-in/ski-out access to Red Mountain. Evergreen woods provide shelter from winter winds while the eco-friendly cabins provide a cosy shelter.

Griffintown Hotel, Montreal

Opened in July 2020, Montreal's Griffintown Hotel is a $46-million project spearheaded by a group of local investors. The 14-storey building, a short walk from the Lachine Canal, includes 114 fully equipped condo-style apartments that can be booked for short, medium and long-term stays.

Muir, Halifax

Adding to Halifax's hotel scene in 2021 is Halifax's first five-star property, Muir. The 110-room Marriott International hotel is slated to open as part of Queen's Marque, a $200-million mixed-use development in Halifax's historic waterfront area. Celebrating the rich history and modern culture of Atlantic Canada, the hotel' will showcase remarkable local art valued at more than $7 million. Muir will also feature a premium restaurant and lobby bar, a 1,000-square-foot event gallery, and access to a wellness centre equipped with an array of fitness equipment, hydrotherapy and halotherapy salt room.

Ace Hotel, Toronto

Inspired by the multicultural amalgam of the city, built on Toronto's rich traditions and history of innovation, Ace Hotel Toronto will open over the next few weeks. Designed in partnership with acclaimed Ace architects Shim-Sutcliffe, the rooms feature acoustic guitars, record players and an on-trend selection of vinyls.

Dorothy Motel, Banff

The Dorothy Motel is Banff's first boutique motel offering 'accommodation made simple'. This quaint motel adjacent to the woods, peacefully located at the start of Banff Avenue, is surrounded by forest with the majestic Cascade Mountain in the background.

Wednesday 21 October 2020

Why you can't visit Santa in 2020

Bad news for kids: Santa will not be accepting visitors at his Lapland hideaway for Christmas 2020. 

Santa's Lapland, a leading tour company that organises visits, has cancelled all December 2020 trips following concerns that increasing Covid-19 safety measures and travel restrictions would "take too much away from the magic of the experience".

Paul Carter, CEO of the parent company Hotelplan, told Travel Mole there were a number of conditions in place in order to operate the trips to Lapland which weren't easy to overcome.

"It is with great sadness, that we have regretfully made the extremely difficult decision to suspend all trips to Santa's Lapland in December 2020," he said.

"We know that this will come as an enormous disappointment to our customers, therefore it is not a decision we have taken lightly.

"Despite tremendous efforts by our partners in Finland to find a way to allow travel to Lapland to go ahead this December, there are still a number of conditions in place, which are not easily overcome.

"Above all, we know a trip to see Santa is a once in a lifetime experience and we want to ensure that it's as magical as our customers expect it to be. Over the past few months, we've been continually reviewing what the Santa experience will look like for families this year and listening to our customer's concerns.

"Our top priority has always been to keep everyone safe and in order to do this, we would have to make some changes to the holiday experience. We felt that those changes would impact too much on the magical experience."

Customers who have already booked have the option to delay until next year or receive a refund.

Tuesday 20 October 2020

Women in wine prove resilient in a difficult year

There was some disdain when the board of the Australian Women in Wine Awards (AWIWA) announced the first awards - some six years ago. 

Since then the event has grown in strength but remains the world’s only awards program for women in wine.

Founding AWIWA Advisory Board member and wine journalist Jeni Port said it was extremely satisfying to see that there has been a particularly strong collection of entries in a very difficult year. this year. 

“I think this is something that brings this year’s awards into their own," she said. "We asked entrants to tell us about their year, including the challenges, and they all rose to the occasion. 

“What’s more, their businesses often thrived. And they learnt so much more about themselves and their abilities. It’s been wonderful to read their stories.”

All categories have three finalists being announced today, except in the case of the Champion of

Diversity and Equality, in which the judges have selected just two.

The finalists in each award category are (in alphabetical order by surname):

Cellar Door Person of the Year – sponsored by Langton’s

• Jess Greatwich - Krondorf Creek Farm (SA)

• Paris Hokin - Arlewood Estate (WA)

• Samantha Mitchell – First Drop Wines (SA)

Winemaker of the Year – sponsored by Tonnellerie Saint Martin

• Natalie Cleghorn – Yalumba & Hill-Smith Family Vineyards (SA)

• Natalie Fryer – Bellebonne Wine Company (Tas)

• Cate Looney – Brown Family Wine Group (Vic)

Viticulturist of the Year – sponsored by Wine Australia

• Brooke Howell - Yalumba Family Winemakers (SA)

• Cath Kidman - Wynns Coonawarra (SA)

• Alexandra Miller – Voyager Estate (WA)

Champion of Diversity & Equality – sponsored by Australian Grape & Wine

• Curly Haslam-Coates – Vintage Tasmania (Tas)

• Helen Strachan – Pernod Ricard Winemakers (SA)

Owner/Operator of the Year – sponsored by Bacchus Academy

• Melissa Brown – Gemtree Wines (SA)

• Laura Carter - Unico Zelo (SA)

• Lisa Margan - Margan Estate (NSW)

Marketer of the Year – sponsored by denomination

• Trish Barry - Mastermind Consulting (NSW)

• Emily Hay - Barossa Grape & Wine Association (SA)

• Kristen Zerk – Z Wine (SA)

The seventh award category, Woman of Inspiration, is a judges’ choice award determined by the AWIWA Advisory Board. No entry is required, and the winner will be announced on the live streamed awards night of Tuesday, November 24. 

Monday 19 October 2020

Aviation industry insider slams Virgin Australia changes

The Australian Frequent Flyer Gazette has attacked new-look Virgin Australia and its owners as "untrustworthy".

It says Virgin is in crisis, having just switched CEOs. It is fighting with unions, who are refusing to accept cuts to worker pay and conditions proposed by new owners Bain Capital.

Business class passengers are being served two-minute noodles and staff are taking sick leave to avoid dealing with all the customer complaints, writes editor Matt Graham.

Virgin has also announced cuts to some Velocity partner airline benefits - which Velocity announced a month after implementing. Among the changes, Velocity members will no longer earn any points or status on codeshare flights.

"Virgin appears to be abandoning any serious attempt to cater to international travellers into the future," the website says. Qantas and the Oneworld alliance suddenly look more attractive than ever to Virgin’s once-loyal frequent flyers."

The website - which bills itself as Australia's leading Frequent Flyer Community and Travel Website - also points out that Qantas has now reopened many of its domestic airport lounges, while Virgin Australia's remain closed.

"The American private equity firm that bought Virgin is trashing the brand and taking the airline downmarket," says Graham. 

"Things at Virgin have gotten so dire – and appear only to be getting worse – that former Virgin frequent flyers have already cleared out their Velocity points and started flying with Qantas instead.

"Given the events of the past week, the reputation of Virgin’s new owner Bain Capital is now at rock bottom. Bain has proven to Virgin’s staff, suppliers, unions and - most damagingly - its loyal customers, that it cannot be trusted.

"Virgin’s frequent flyers already feel let down after the airline refused to refund their money for cancelled flights. Some are still owed thousands of dollars for international flights that Virgin has no intention of ever operating." 

New cellar door attracts lots of attention


The new cellar door at McLaren Vale winery Dowie Doole has been attracting attention for its architectural merit. 

The tasting pod has been announced as a finalist in the in the ‘Architecture and Landscape’ category of the South Australian Best of Wine Tourism awards.

Opened in November last year, the pod is nestled in the heart of the Dowie Doole California Road Estate Vineyard in Tatachilla. It was formed by adapting shipping containers and shaded by a solar panel covered roofline. 

The exterior is a rough and raw material palette which is then transformed on entering the interior, where the same materials have been reļ¬ned and juxtaposed to provide an immersive and unique experience for visitors. 

Outside, a large timber deck surrounds the building, highlighted by a stone wall built with rock from the nearby vineyard. The interstitial space between the containers create organising elements providing activated circulation, breezeways, light pools, and frames for the landscape views.

The facility has also been awarded commendations for both Small Project Architecture and Sustainable Architecture in the AIA South Australia Architecture Awards in 2020.

Sunday 18 October 2020

Head for Tasmania's Tarkine wilderness for a different travel experience

Guests take a step back in time at the Corinna Wilderness Experience - a delightful abandoned former mining town deep in the Tarkine wilderness on the edge of the Pieman River in remote Tasmania.

There is no phone signal here, no wifi, no TV signal and no mains electricity (meaning no microwaves and no hairdryers) – making it the perfect spot to chill out from the stresses and strains of daily life and breathe in some of the freshest air in the world.

Set among 447,000 hectares of forest, wild rivers, exposed mountains, magnesite cave systems and extensive coastal heath, the Tarkine has the largest tract of temperate rainforest in the southern hemisphere and has sacred significance to Tasmanian Aboriginal custodians. 

Corinna Wilderness Experience is one of only four Tasmanian destinations to be awarded Advanced Ecotourism status by Ecotourism Australia.

The eco-friendly township is solar powered, uses captured rainwater and ensures all waste is removed. 

That means an "unplugged" experience in remote and beautiful surroundings that are also rich in history and heritage. 

Corinna is the perfect base for visitors seeking an authentic wilderness stay.

Activities include Pieman River cruises. kayak hire, fishing and bird watching, as well as a number of short, medium and long walks. 

These include the Huon Pine Walk, the Whyte River Walk, and the Savage River Walk, all of which start from Corinna. 

There are even more options a few minutes’ drive away, including the Mt Donaldson, Middleton Creek and Philosopher's Falls walks. 

The region surrounding Corinna has abundant fauna and flora and the breathtaking sights of the Tarkine rainforest.

Accommodation at Corinna includes the original Roadman’s cottage with its double bedroom, the old pub, which is now a group stay guesthouse with single and double rooms, and 16 wilderness retreats (one or two bedroom cottages). 

These are rustic but very comfortable with heated rooms, comfortable beds, hot showers, fridges and cooking facilities. 

The general store, old pub and original buildings bring the history of Corinna to life and are the starting point for guests’ wilderness adventures. Accessible by most 2WD motor vehicles, the town is reached from the south by crossing the Pieman River on the legendary Fatman barge.

The Tarkine Hotel and Tannin Restaurant are gathering points for the local Corinna community and serve Tasmanian wines and beers all year round. In summer, visitors can enjoy lunch and dinners created from local produce. 

Winter visitors self cater and can order chef-prepared frozen meals delivered to their accommondation. I can't wait to return.  

For more information visit:

Saturday 17 October 2020

Solving the Covid-19 travel lockdown and saving jobs. Simple.

The World Travel & Tourism Council is an international organisation that thinks it can find  a way to end the Covid-19 travel lockdown.

The WTTC says it plans to "kickstart" the economic global recovery through a major drive to revive international travel with the public and private sector working together.

It says its Jobs Recovery Plan could save 65 million jobs across all G20 countries and could help save millions of jobs. Could, could, might. 

So far, the WTTC is long on on rhetoric and short on details.

It intends to establish a structure to deliver on its goals, led by a global steering committee, comprised of 12 WTTC member CEOs and other business and institutional leaders to establish international consensus to take action.

Specialised working groups will address how to open up travel by creating crucial "air corridors" and a globally recognised standard for an airport test-and-trace regime. 

Gloria Guevara, the Mexican WTTC President and CEO, said: "WTTC is uniquely positioned to provide a platform at the highest level where the private and public sector can work together to help revive international business and leisure travel and save 100 million jobs globally.

"It is vital that 'air corridors' be restored between the world's leading financial hubs, such as the hugely important transatlantic route between London and New York.

"Restoring these routes for international business travellers must be coupled with the agreement and adoption of globally recognised standards for a rapid, cost-effective airport test-and-trace regime.

"Together these will help create a safe and hygienic environment to travel and aid the beleaguered travel and tourism sector which continues its fight for survival.

"This, in turn, will act as an engine to help kickstart the economic global recovery to benefit the whole travel and tourism sector and millions of jobs throughout the supply chain which are dependent upon international travel.

"The economic fallout from Covid-19 continues to relentlessly burn its way through the travel and tourism sector. However, our plan could save 100 million jobs through strong international cooperation, removing travel barriers and introducing an international testing protocol at airports to minimise the spread of Covid-19."

The WTTC has been at the forefront of leading the private sector in the drive to rebuild international travel - but I'm not convinced.

Meanwhile, flights between the UK and mainland Europe may be at risk from January 1. 

British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed that the UK was yet to reach a deal with the EU that would allow flights to continue the start of the new year. 

"It's critical that flights between the UK and the EU can continue to operate as normal at the end of the transition period, regardless of the outcome of these negotiations," Schapps said.

Eurostar train services are unaffected by the negotiations. 

Friday 16 October 2020

So you really want to get away from it all?

So you really want to get away from the hustle and bustle? 

How about a brand-new couples-only retreat that combines country comforts in Tasmania with superb views and little luxuries? 

Imagine waking up to spectacular views of the River Huon, picking up your own lemons for a pick-me up drink and then raiding the hen house for some free-range eggs for breakfast.

Or how about picking some fresh fruit and vegetables from the 3-acre gardens and orchards and enjoying a picnic beside the dam, or on a deck overlooking the river. 

What was once a dirty, dark and derelict pickers' hut has been transformed into a beautiful country cottage with modern facilities.

Welcome to Cloud River Farm cottage, a luxury escape for two in the stunning Huon Valley, just 10 minutes from the cafes and restaurants of Cygnet. 

Completely renovated this year, the cottage has been decorated and furnished with vintage treasures collected from Tasmania and beyond.

It is adjacent to - but private from - Cloud River Farm, a 1893 heritage-listed property around 45 minutes south of Hobart with gorgeous gardens and mod cons like a new stove, fridge and wifi. 

There is a fire pit and a barbecue on which to enjoy any gourmet goodies you have picked up on your travels.T

Go fishing or forage for oysters, bring your binoculars and look out for local wildlife (pademelons, quolls, Tassie Devils and possums among them), or keep your eyes peeled for dolphins.

The hosts will have provided a lovely wicker picnic basket for you containing everything you will need including wine glasses, plates and cutlery. All you need to do it collect delicious Tasmanian produce.

Cloud River Farm is an ideal base for exploring waterfalls, walking tracks, boat trips, kayaking, cellar doors, cider makers and a picturesque drive to the ferry for Bruny Island. 

At an extra cost, the hosts can stock the fridge for you or have a platter of local cheeses and Tasmanian goodies and wine ready for your arrival. 

Check out some images on Instagram at @cloudriverfarm_bnb or see The first handful of bookings get a discount on the $225 nightly rate. Tell them Winsor sent you.