Friday, 22 January 2021

Look at us! South Australia launches a major wine tourism campaign

South Australia’s 18 wine regions will be celebrated with a year-long campaign designed to encourage visitors to raise a glass, buy local and embrace wine festivals across the state.

The 2021 Year of South Australian Wine campaign – launched by Chester Osborne of d'Arenberg, Justine Henschke of Henschke and Kate Laurie of Deviation Road – aims to drive both sales and visitation to local wineries who have been hit hard by the double blow of bushfires and Covid-19. 

It brings a series of regional cellar door shows, wine-making classes, hands-on experiences, music and food festivals, and gourmet events under one bubble. 

Co-ordinated by the South Australian Tourism Commission and the Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA), the campaign will include a year of must-see wine events, additional marketing support for wine regions and provide wineries with a toolkit to help grow their businesses. 

Premier Steven Marshall said today that with more than 200 cellar doors located within an hour’s drive of Adelaide, and with limited interstate travel currently on the agenda, now is a perfect time to discover South Australia’s world-class wine regions.  

“South Australia is indisputably Australia’s wine state, producing 50% of all bottled wine and almost 80% of premium wine," he said. "Wine is massive part of our state’s character, is a significant economic and cultural asset, and a major employer. 

“Nearly one quarter of all day-trip visitors undertake an activity that involves visiting a winery, which is great for our regional communities, our primary producers and wineries.  

“Events are recognised to grow visitation and spend, and further contribute to the wine experiences on offer. Our aim is to grow these events, encourage our wine regions to be creative and innovative at their cellar doors and ultimately drive wine tourism, and boost economic spend in SA’s wine regions.” 

Across the state, there are more than 350 cellar doors, with each of the 11 tourism regions home to at least one winery. Tasting Australia, which launches in April, is  expected to add further impetus to the campaign. 

South Australian Wine Industry Association president Nick Waterman said the triple impact of bushfires, Covid-19 and changes to international tariffs mean “the wine regions of South Australia are hurting”.   

“With the prospect of little international travel before the end of 2021 the Year of South Australia Wine initiative is a welcome boost to our SA wine industry,” he said. 

“It will drive people into regions, connect them with wineries, the on-site experiences they offer as well as regional food and tourism businesses.” 

The 2021 Year of South Australian Wine kicks off this weekend with Crush Festival in the Adelaide Hills.

For more information on other 
South Australian events, and to see the full calendar of events, visit 

New Year, New Experiences in Margaret River

It is now over 50 years since wine production began in Margaret River - and despite a difficult 2020 there are plenty of new products for visitors to enjoy in the New Year.

Artisan winemaker Dylan Arvidson, born in New Zealand and raised in Geelong, has opened the doors to a brand new LS Merchants cellar door in Cowaramup over summer.

Arvidson has a range of over 20 small-batch, minimal-intervention wines featuring different varieties, styles and blends all handmade with wild fermentation where possible and a lot of experimentation.

Another newbie to check out is Skigh Wines, set in the Yallingup hills with a relaxed set up and sprawling gardens.

Down the road, Marri Wood Park's recently opened cellar door is a drawcard for those interested in biodynamic, regenerative farming practices. Book ahead for a complimentary cheese platter.

There are also plenty of new places to stay, with sustainable housing for travellers to the fore. 

A new eco-friendly spot to join the growing list is Barn Hives (above) in Yallingup, in a vineyard near Smiths Beach. 

The eco-pods ahere re architecturally designed with special attention to sunlight and cross ventilation. Water is collected from rainfall and heated by solar panels, making it self-sustainable.

Petit Eco Cabin is the latest rural hideout to open in the region. The modern timber cabin is set among the organic vineyards of Windows Estate in Yallingup.

All fixtures, fittings and decor items have been sourced and made in Australia - and there is an outdoor vintage tub in which to chill off.

Margaret River Heartland is also eco-aligned offering off-grid accommodation with pastoral views to the forest.

Visitors can choose from a weatherboard cottage or a glampavan – a completely refurbished caravan designed by artist Anita Revel. It boasts a modern kitchen, vintage record player, and rainwater sky shower.

A new experience is the four-day Yoga and Wellness Glamping Adventure with Nullarbor Traveller.

Enjoy yoga in pristine locations, sample local and organic produce, connect to country with an indigenous experience and tuck into a glamping tent by night.

Meanwhile, popular wine destination Aravina Estate has recently entered the craft beer space.

With their own on-site brewery, they have five brews which are crafted by chief brewer Dr Brad Hutton (who also happens to be one of their winemakers).

Dunsborough is bursting with new bars to discover. Har Bar in Dunsborough has a vintage nautical theme with a solid cocktail menu. Lady Lola is part deli, part bar, part bistro. Indulge in a negroni or a glass of bubbles and some share plates.

Thursday, 21 January 2021

Gippsland glams up with a brand-new hotel

Gourmet visits to Gippsland became potentially a whole lot more glamorous with the opening of the new build 50-room Mantra Traralgon hotel in the heart of Latrobe Valley’s largest city.

The first hotel to open in Traralgon in more than 10 years, Mantra Traralgon is set to become a destination of choice for business travellers and leisure guests looking for convenient, contemporary accommodation in the fast-emerging Gippsland region.

The $18 million development, which comprises five levels is located directly opposite the city’s major retail centre and within an entertainment complex that houses a cinema, ten-pin bowling and bistro.

On-site amenities at Mantra Traralgon include a ground floor café and bar called Hush Lounge, meeting and conference facilities with modern audiovisual equipment that cater for up to 30 delegates, high-speed internet connection and car parking.

Accor Pacific CEO Simon McGrath, said: “We are proud to bring the Mantra brand to the Gippsland region. This hotel will play a key role in further elevating Traralgon’s profile and its attractiveness as a leisure and business destination.

"LA Hotel Group should be very proud of the long term investment they have made into the future of tourism in Traralgon and the greater Latrobe Valley, and we look forward to enjoying a successful partnership together.”

LA Hotel Group director and Mantra Traralgon general manager Andrew McDonald, said: “Mantra Traralgon sets a new benchmark in accommodation and meeting facilities in the Gippsland region.

"We are delighted to be partnering with Accor, who are the market leader of accommodation in Australia, under a franchise agreement. Accor’s Mantra brand is the ideal fit for our hotel and we’ve enjoyed working with their team to create a hotel that is both contemporary and welcoming.”

Since its inception in 2007, Mantra brand has become Australia’s largest hotel brand with more than 75 properties across the country.

Since acquiring Mantra in 2018, Accor has continued to grow the brand with five new Australian hotels opening, including the 146-room Mantra Albury Hotel, 214-room Mantra Epping Melbourne, 79-room Mantra Mackay, 41-room Mantra Melbourne Melton, and Mantra Traralgon, which is 165km south-east of Melbourne.

Mantra Traralgon has launched an opening special with prices from $186 per night in a standard king room. To book, visit

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Bremerton splashes out on new tasting facility

Award-winning and family-owned Bremerton Wines, in the Langhorne Creek wine region, have officially opened a new tasting room that sits alongside their historic 1866 barn.

The $1 million investment into Bremerton Wines, established by the Willson family over 35 years ago -was built and partially designed by another local family-owned Adelaide company Kennett Builders.

Bremerton Wines is run by the second-generation winemakers Rebecca Willson and Lucy Willson and was the first sister-run winery in Australia. 

“We believe our new cellar door tasting room gives visitors another reason to visit the Langhorne Creek wine region, which has eight cellar doors and is only a 45-minute drive from Adelaide or 35 minutes from the South Coast,” said Lucy Willson.

The restored barrn, which has been the cellar door and tasting area for over 26 years, will continue to be used for indoor dining, serving their popular lunch menu, including pizzas and shared platters. 

It will also continue to house the David Dridan OAM ‘Barrel Ends’ art collection, and the upstairs space will continue to showcase local artists with the exhibitions changing every six weeks.

“Along with the tasting room, we now have a beautiful outdoor area with more seating, which gives visitors a chance to enjoy a glass of wine or local produce platters on the verandah overlooking the lawn or sit on a picnic rug or bean bag,” Lucy said. 

Rebecca Willson explains visitors to the winery will now enter over stairs, down the recycled timber arbour, through big, double timber doors, to find a large, spacious and interactive tasting room. 

“We chose materials for the new tasting room and extension that were sustainably sourced, recycled, and repurposed to maintain the integrity, character, and charm of the historic barn building, while also modernising the space for the future,” she said. 

“We used bricks from the original barn to create the arbour walkway on entrance and limestone from the original walls in the garden beds and external feature walls.” 

Bremerton Wines plans to host ‘Lazy Weekend’ sessions in the new space, with live music, food trucks, and a range of beverages, so that visitors can make a day of it.

To celebrate the new space, Bremerton Wines will release new tasting experiences in February, including a tasting plate of fresh produce to match the wine and special gin tastings.

“We also have additional plans that we look forward to unveiling later in the year, which will include exciting developments to the winery and a distillery."


Meet the new wine bar with room for just five tasters

Adelaide's newest wine bar can only seat five people at a time. 

Unico Go, created by Unico Zelo founders Brendan and Laura Carter, will open its doors this tomorrow at the rear of BRKLYN cocktail bar in Adelaide’s CBD, in what was formerly a recording booth.

After witnessing the positive impact of its digital happy hour Wine for the People - which was created during the initial wave of pandemic lockdowns in 2020 - Unico sought a space to continue to grow that connection with its community. 

Unico Go (‘go’ meaning five in Japanese) will showcase a rotating selection of five Australian and international wines curated and served by Team Unico in collaboration with guest sommeliers.

Expanding not only the way a wine brand traditionally interacts with its audience, but also the concept of a wine bar itself, Unico Go will form the backdrop for season two of Wine for the People

On top of these live episodes, each service at Unico Go will be live streamed via social media platform Twitch, with people from all over the world able to tune in to ask questions of the sommeliers - or just see their friends’ faces for a digital drink.

“We've all been hit hard this past year - some of us are still separated from our families by national or international borders," says Unico creative director and co-founder Brendan Carter.

"Some incredibly talented hospo workers and somms are also out of work and we want to invite them to come in and curate the wine list for their shift, have a bit of fun and basically enjoy the easiest night of work they’ve ever done! 

"It’s an opportunity to have an intimate drink with some of the most talented wine minds in Adelaide and invite your mates to tune in if they want to.

"Basically, you never have to drink alone if you don't want to - no matter where you are in the world or what your version of lockdown looks like. The space is tiny, but really fun - you can book out the space for yourself and four mates if you like. We want it to feel like a hospo lock in, but open to anyone".

The wine menu will rotate weekly and will always include one or two Unico Zelo drops, alongside a selection of local and international wines. 

The launch menu has been curated entirely by Team Unico, including Unico Zelo Sea Foam Pet Nat and crowd-favourite Esoterico, alongside 2020 Sven Joshcke La Eleanor Sangiovese, 2016 Cantina Giardino Tutu Skin Contact Fiano and 2018 Domaine Buisson-Charles Bourgogne Blanc Hautes Coutures. 

A small snack menu will be available courtesy of neighbouring hot-chicken restaurant Cheekies. The wine list will be constantly updated, with guest sommeliers beginning to rotate through the venue later in the year.

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Make a date: A capital idea for beer lovers

Beer and cider lovers can mark March 20 into their diaries for a trip to the national capital. 

The Mercure Canberra will host the 14th Canberra Craft Beer and Cider Festival on that date with an expanded venue and special Covid-safe arrangements.

The festival will extend from the hotel grounds to  the adjoining lawns of Batman and Gooreen Streets in Braddon as a result of a grant from the ACT Government. 

The festival will now be split into two ticketed sessions from 11am-2pm and 3pm-6pm. All transactions will be cashless, with a simple tap-and-go system in place for purchases.

Some 40 local and interstate exhibitors will be presenting up to 250 craft beers and ciders for tasting. There will also be beer/cider food-matching sessions, guest speakers and "meet the brewers" sessions. 
A range of dining options (including local gourmet food vendors), live entertainment and family activities will be available throughout the day.

Canberra’s rapidly emerging brewing scene will be reflected in the presence of BentSpoke Brewing Co, Capital Brewing Co and others, while interstate exhibitors include many of Australia’s most renowned breweries such as Sydney Brewery, 4 Pines Brewing, Mountain Goat Beer, Lord Nelson Brewery and James Squire. 

Specialist cideries such as Franks Cider and Willie Smith’s Cider from Tasmania will exhibit their range of ciders.

Advance purchase tickets will be available through Moshtix (booking fees apply) and tastings (150ml) will be available for $4 each.  

The festival will help raise funds for Rise Above Capital Region Cancer Relief, a locally based group that provides support for over 950 cancer patients.

Canberra Craft Beer and Cider Festival organiser Jenny Farrell said that after the disappointment of having to cancel the event in 2020, the new-look festival will provide a tremendous showcase for Australia’s best brewers.

“To have such easy access to 40 craft brewers and three hours of entertainment for as little as $20 entry provides a perfect opportunity for both serious lovers of beer and cider and those who just want to enjoy a fun, family-friendly event in a really attractive venue,” she said.

“Canberra is the perfect place for a long weekend, so we will be expecting a large number of visitors who want to combine the Festival with visits to the many other nearby attractions.”

Festival information: Festival bookings:

Special accommodation and festival packages include overnight accommodation at the four-star Mercure Canberra, a four-pack of award-winning Sydney Brewery beers, entry to the festival and breakfast costs $149 per room per night for one or two people (conditions apply). Bookings: 02 6243 000; or via

Myth busting. What if everything you've been told about wine was wrong?

Many of us believe enjoying wine comes with strict rules about temperatures, food pairings, and etiquette. Maybe it is time to think again.

While there are of course tips and tricks to better maximise a wine'’s flavours, the "rules" don’t always need to be followed. The fact you can and should break them is only the start of many misconceptions we have about wine.

Here’s a list of common wine myths exploded for you by experts.

Wines are made from grape juice and are suitable for vegans

Surprisingly, many Australian wines are not vegan- or vegetarian-friendly.

“‘Fining’ is an important step in the winemaking process to remove unwanted compounds and the ‘rough edges’ of phenolics derived from grape skins and seeds,” says Yalumba chief winemaker Louisa Rose.

“Typical fining agents are protein (animal) based, such as milk, eggs and gelatin, which can also strip the precious flavours and textures our growers and winemakers spend great efforts at getting into the wine.

“As all of our Yalumba wines are made without the use of protein-based fining agents, we can confidently say we are 100% vegan – and vegetarian – friendly.”

Gold medal stickers mean a wine won at a wine show

The wine industry would like you to believe this, but it is actually a trophy that is awarded to a wine that wins its category at a wine show, not a gold medal.

While the wine industry sees little gold medal stickers as a sales tool, the reality is that most consumers do not understand how the Australian show system works.

You’d probably imagine that a wine that won a gold medal was first in its class, like at the Olympics, a silver medallist was second and a bronze medallist third. Wrong.

In wine shows, any wine gaining a score of 18.5 out of 20 (or 95 out of 100) from the judges gets a gold medal. That could be as many as 20% of all the entries. Any entry scoring between 17 to 18.4 and gets a silver, and so on.

Red wine should always be served at room temperature

This myth derived from the room temperatures in French chateaux, which were a lot cooler than Australia.

On a warm day in Australia, it makes sense to chill a red wine so that it is refreshing. Around 13°C is ideal.

“While it is true that red wine should be served at a warmer temperature than white wine, there isn’t really any truth to the notion of serving it at room temperature,” says Mitchell Taylor from Clare Valley winery Taylors.

“If red wine is too warm the alcohol dominates and can mask its subtle flavours. Chill a wine too far and the flavours are suppressed, the tannins become harsher and the acids too sharp.

“A red wine, lightly chilled to its ideal temperature, reveals its delicious flavours, just as the winemaker intended.”

Older wines are better than young wines

It all depends on your palate. Many wine drinkers actually prefer the fresh, fruity taste of young wines to the earthy, more mature older styles with their elegant complexity.

More than 90% of all wine is actually consumed within a year of its release, while aging wine requires stable temperatures to maintain the quality of wine, and the cork.

Determining which bottles to age and when to open them is among the most puzzling aspects of wine, says New York Times wine writer Eric Asimov.

“The best time to open a bottle is subjective,” he says. “The trick is getting to know your own preferences, which takes a bit of time and effort.”

The date on a bottle of wine is the release date

No, the year on a bottle of wine is the ‘vintage’ – the year in which the grapes were picked.

Many wines mature in oak, or in bottles, for several years before being released.

Rosé wines are a blend of red and white grapes

Usually not, although there are a handful of exceptions to this rule. Most rosé wines are made from red wine grapes, incorporating some of the colour from the grape skins, but not enough to qualify it as red wine.

Many of the new wave of rosé wines are made in a much drier style than a decade ago and are very food-friendly.

Foreign wines are better than Australian wines

It all depends on your personal taste. 

Wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy in France can be ludicrously expensive, while Australian wines have gained international acceptance over the past couple of years.

“For some years Australians have been at the cutting edge of the new World of Wine,” says leading English wine writer and educator Jancis Robinson.

Wines under screwcap are of lesser quality than those under cork

Corks are notoriously unreliable, with as many as one in 10 failing to deliver.

Stephen Henschke, whose family makes Hill of Grace, Australia’s most expensive single-vineyard wine, has not used cork for several years, citing its likelihood of delivering cork taint or allowing premature oxidation, which can leave a wine tasting of vinegar.

Henschke uses either screw caps or glass stoppers called Vino Lok across his entire range.

“Winemakers want their customers to enjoy their wines the way they design them to be; they don’t want the characters changed by faulty cork,” Hensckhe says.

“Under cork, you lose control and are at the mercy of a God-awful closure. It can turn wines into awful beasts.”

Drink red wine with meat, white with fish

“You don’t need to follow the rules if you don’t want to,” says Stuart Knox, a qualified sommelier and owner of Sydney wine bar Fix. “You can drink whatever you want – if you want a pinot noir with salmon, go ahead.

“Wine is meant to be enjoyed and while it would be odd to enjoy Riesling alongside a T-Bone steak, it is your money.”

# This is an edited version of a story that first appeared on The Upsider website

Monday, 18 January 2021

Bringing a new vegan vibe to Banrock Station

Banrock Station was among the first major wine labels to flaunt its eco-friendly credentials.

As more and more wine producers seek to virtue signal to consumers, Banrock Station is now in the process of converting all its wines to vegan friendly by the end of 2021. 

Over the past 25 years, Banrock Station has been committed to environmental causes, contributing over $6 million to sustainability projects. 

Banrock Station’s core range has started its evolution to vegan starting with its shiraz, cabernet merlot and crimson cabernet in both bottle and casks. 

As part of the brand’s introduction of vegan-friendly wines, Banrock Station is rolling out its new Every Drop Matters campaign. 

Banrock Station winemaker Paul Burnett explains: “We’re committed to conserving our planet at Banrock Station and we’re always observing ways to extend our environmental practices. 

"The move to vegan wines is a great achievement that we’re looking forward to sharing as we know that Every Drop Matters. Not only are Banrock Station wines environmentally friendly, every purchase is an easy way for wine lovers to contribute to the preservation of the planet.”

Since 1996, Banrock Station Trust has contributed to over 130 projects across 13 countries which includes protecting turtles in the Great Barrier Reef to supporting polar bear and orangutan rehabilitation. 

In addition, the Banrock Station Wetlands in the Riverland is funded from the profits of Banrock Station providing habitat to thousands of animals and birds as well as playing an important part of the water health of the Murray River. 

The Ramsar-accredited Banrock Station Wetlands site covers 1600 hectares featuring wetland, floodplain woodland and mallee ecosystems, acting as home to hundreds of species of plants and animals. 

By mimicking the natural wet and dry cycles, this helps ensure the health of the wetland and floodplain forests, which rely on the wet and dry seasons to thrive, as well as encouraging the return of native birds, fish and flora.

Located next to the wetlands, Banrock Station’s cellar door also incorporates the winery’s environmental philosophy. 

Banrock Station vegan-friendly wines (shiraz, cabernet merlot and crimson cabernet) are available in 750ml and 1-litre bottles from an RRP of $10.00, and in 2-litre casks at an RRP $16.00 through independent retailers. 

The rest of the core range will transition to vegan from vintage 2021 with the addition of new lighter-style varietals.


Sunday, 17 January 2021

Animal magnetism. The pulling power of a luxury train to nowhere

Nowhere on the planet does luxury wildlife experiences better than South Africa.

Which is why the new Kruger Shalati experience - a luxury train parked on a bridge over the Sabie River - is No.1 on my bucket list once travel returns to normal.

Kruger Shalati, which opened last month, adds a new dimension to visiting the iconic Kruger National Park game reserve.

The newly refurbished train sits on the historic Selati Bridge above the Sabie River. It pays homage to the guests who explored the park nearly 100 years ago, when the first visits were allowed in the 1920s.

The train delivering those pioneers would park overnight in the exact spot where Kruger Shalati is positioned.

Offering 31 rooms, consisting of 24 carriage rooms and seven Bridge House rooms that will open towards the end of the year, Kruger Shalati has glass walls which allow views along the length of the majestic river while featuring local art and craft designs.

Aligned with the floor level of the train is a unique swimming pool. Take a dip while gazing at the crocodiles, hippos, buffaloes and elephants below.

Rates include accommodation, all meals, teas and coffees daily, soft drinks, house wines, local brand spirits and beers, two game drives daily in open safari vehicles and return road transfers between the Skukuza Airport (more a landing strip really) and the lodge. Prices start from around $AUD680 per person per night twin share.

All suites have king-sized beds, en-suite bathrooms with both bath and showers as well as separate enclosed toilet, mini bar and electronic safe.

Outside walkways run along the bridge - which was decommissioned in 1973 - connecting the hotel's different spaces.

Discounted rates are available to residents of select countries in Africa.
For details see

Saturday, 16 January 2021

How a nice cup of tea can help your gut feelings

Far be it from me to offer health advice to anyone. 

My idea of tea differs from that of most people, in that I tend to match tea with food. 

I love a cup of English breakfast with milk and sugar paired with a greasy full breakfast; and enjoy a cup of green tea with dim sum in Chinatown. 

But when it comes to a beverage on its own, I'm more likely to opt for wine, beer, a cranberry juice, or a short black. 

I've just learned, however, that a new product range from Australia tea maker Nerada is a health drink. 

While I find kombucha largely beyond the pale, I'm more than willing to enjoy a nice cup of tea if it also going to boost my gut health (although I have a very healthy gut that I see each morning in the mirror).

Nerada, based on the Atherton Tablelands of Far North Queensland, has just launched a new range of feel-good herbal infusions with added probiotics "to support digestive health".

The range includes Detox with dandelion, nettle, lemon verbena, senna and milk thistle; Relax with camomile, valerian, lavender and lemon balm, and my favourite: Digest with ginger, peppermint, fennel and lemongrass. 

All three are powered by a natural (and neutral-tasting) vegan probiotic ingredient, the dangerous-sounding GanedenBC30.

Each teabag contains a 500 million probiotic serving, so just two cups of tea will provide the recommended daily 1 billion probiotic serving for gut health, which basically means good digestive and immune health. 

Nerada Tea’s national sales and marketing manager Brenden Minehan said: “For many years, Nerada has pioneered new ranges in the tea category within Australia. 

"Now, as we enter our 50th year of growing tea here in Australia, we’re continuing to do something different to meet consumers’ growing interest in health and wellness products. We’re proud to launch this new Probiotic Infusion Range that includes an innovative range of refreshing flavours – something new and exciting to explore.”

The new range is available now at independent retailers or online at at an RRP of $7.50 per pack (20 teabags). 

Anyone interested can buy all three varieties for a special promotional price of $20 including free postage within Australia. Available exclusively on the Nerada website for a limited time only.



Friday, 15 January 2021

How to beat par during Covid-19

You might have to escape from your own country first, but golfers are being enticed to see out the Covid-19 pandemic at some of the best golf courses in Asia.

Golf quarantine in Thailand now available at six government-approved golf resorts, the Tourism Authority of Thailand reports. 

Located in Kanchanaburi, Nakhon Nayok, Phetchaburi (near Hua Hin) and Chiang Mai, these six golf resorts allow foreign golfers the opportunity to undergo quarantine and enjoy golfing in Thailand at the same time.

The Ministry of Public Health's Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) for Covid-19 has unveiled a list of Government-approved golf resorts to allow foreign golfers with advance arrangements for golfing in Thailand an opportunity to undergo a golf quarantine as an alternative local state quarantine option.

The six Government-certified golf resorts for golf quarantine in Thailand include three in Kanchanaburi: Mida Golf Club, Evergreen Hills Golf Club and Blue Star Golf Course, and one each in Nakhon Nayok: Artitaya Golf & Resort; Phetchaburi: Sawang Resort and Golf Club (above), and Chiang Mai: Artitaya Chiang Mai Golf & Resort.

Mida Golf Club is located west of Kanchanaburi and is a regulation par-72 course laid out over 800 acres with multiple room types available. It has a driving range, practice areas, and a swimming pool.

Evergreen Hills Golf Club, also in Kanchanaburi, has a 97-room resort, clubhouse, restaurant, driving range, tennis court, and swimming pool.

Blue Star Golf Course, also in Kanchanaburi, is a par-72 course with a choice of accommodation and room types, clubhouse, driving range, and practice areas.

Artitaya Golf & Resort in Nakhon Nayok offers a challenging 18-hole layout supported by the resort, golf clubhouse and restaurant.

Sawang Resort and Golf Club in Phetchaburi is an 18-hole international quality course with a hotel, restaurant, driving range, swimming pool, clubhouse and pro shop.

Artitaya Chiang Mai Golf & Resort in Chiang Mai is an 18-hole course with a restaurant and clubhouse.

Foreign golfers wishing to visit Thailand during this time will be allowed to spend their two-week quarantine period at any of the six certified golf resorts and move around in the resort environment and also play golf, rather than just having to isolate in their rooms.

Golfers still need to have all of their advance arrangements in good order for arrival and entry, including a visa, which can include a Single-Entry Tourist Visa (TR) or a Special Tourist Visa (STV); medical and travel insurance; and a Certificate of Entry. 

Some golf courses in Thailand offer special quarantine packages with discounted green fees and special amenities.

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Qantas boss predicts airline "fight to the death"

Keep a close watch on your frequent flyer points. 

Qantas boss Alan Joyce made a grim prediction for Australia’s domestic aviation sector following news that Regional Express (Rex) would be launching flights between Sydney and Melbourne from March.

Speaking at an online event hosted by international news agency Reuters, Joyce said that adding a fourth competitor to a route already serviced by Qantas, its offshoot Jetstar and Virgin Australia would spark fierce competition – and that one airline will not survive post-pandemic.

“My personal view is that this market has never sustained three airline groups and it probably won’t into the future,” Joyce said

“You can be guaranteed that Qantas will be one of them – it’s who else is going to be in the marketplace post this and into the future [that] is going to be interesting.”

Rex, Australia’s largest independent regional airline born from the ashes of Ansett over 20 years ago, announced last June a plan to service the “Golden Triangle” of Sydney-Melbourne-Brisbane.

In December, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority issued Rex a high-capacity air operator’s certificate, allowing it to use the Boeing 737-800NG, of which the airline has leased six.

Each aircraft will seat up to 176 people – a huge leap from the 36-seater Saab 340s Rex usually operates.

“The way is now clear for Rex to commence domestic operations between Sydney and Melbourne from March 1, 2021, and thereafter to other major cities,” the company announced late last year.

“Travellers for the first time do not have to choose between cheap fares with minimal service, or more reliable service with premium pricing.”

The Australian domestic aviation market has been stifled by ongoing border closures between states and territories. 

Virgin Australia went into voluntary administration in 2020 but was subsequently acquired by Bain Capital with with the re-organisation and change of ownership completed in November last year. 

Qantas has predicted its domestic flying capacity will return to 80%t of pre-Covid levels in the first three months of 2021. But the latest round of border restrictions will set the airline’s recovery back significantly. 

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Sydney to get a new landmark hotel

Sydney is to get a new landmark hotel with Accor, the leading hospitality group, and a joint venture between Sydney developer Central Element and property investor Boston Global (CEBH) unveiling the city's first 25hours property.

The 25hours Sydney is scheduled to open in 2022 in Paddington, bringing life back to one of Sydney’s most iconic event and hospitality precincts.

The building first opened in 1911 as the West’s Olympia Theatre and sits on one of Sydney's best-known and busiest intersections, where Oxford Street meets South Dowling Street, Victoria Street and Barcom Avenue.

In its 1990s heyday, the building housed the Grand Pacific Blue Room.

25hours Hotel Sydney will be situated in Oxford Street Village Centre and is perfectly positioned for guests, in an area renowned for its diverse culture and creative scene, close to retailers, restaurants and parklands.

CEBH has commissioned award-winning Australian architecture firm Tonkin Zulaikha Greer to design the 25hours hotel which will encompass 105 guestrooms and a spectacular rooftop bar overlooking Oxford Street and Sydney’s eastern suburbs and harbour.

Two interior design companies will work on the project with A Work of Substance from Hong Kong designing the rooms, public areas and events spaces.

Sydney-based interior designers Acme & Co will work on the rooftop bar, restaurant and café offerings.

A restaurant "of exceptional quality" is planned for the hotel. There will also be a café on the ground floor on Oxford Street, a state-of-art fitness centre and extensive conference facilities.

Wayne Chivas of CEBH said: “It has been our long-term vision to create a hotel of stature and presence in the heart of Sydney. We are delighted that in 25hours, we have found the perfect partner for this unique building.

"25hours will be a hotel characterised by personality and charming, relaxed service, enriching Oxford Street and the city’s culinary and bar scene.”

25hours Sydney is the second 25hours Hotel to be announced in Australia, after plans for 25hours Melbourne were revealed last year.

For more information about 25hours Hotels, visit

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Meet the ferry that arrives when you want it - and drives itself

Imagine a futuristic ferry that drives itself. 

The future is here with the imminent launch of Zeabuz - a new generation of water-borne urban transport - in the Norwegian city of Trondheim. 

These sleek, climate-friendly ferries will transport people across or along waterways on demand - almost like a floating elevator. 

The Zeabuz ferries will be equipped with cameras to scan for obstacles and a navigation system to monitor the boat's speed and position.

The small, autonomous ferry launches later this year. 
Passengers on each side of the canal that separates the port and Trondheim city centre can press a button to call a boat to them. The boat charges while it waits at the dock, fits up to 12 passengers as well as bicycles, and takes less than 60 seconds to make the crossing -- saving pedestrians a 15-minute walk.

The idea was developed in 2018 by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) as an alternative to a proposed bridge across Trondheim's harbour canal. 
The prototype was a hit and NTNU commercialized its research, forming Zeabuz in 2019 as part of a larger movement exploring how to use waterways for more sustainable transport.
Zeabuz will be introduced in other Norwegian cities and along the coast later in 2021. 
What a great idea for Sydney, Hobart, Bangkok or Vancouver!
Images: Zeabuz

Monday, 11 January 2021

A changing of the guard at one of Australia's star wineries

Howard Park has added rising star Nic Bowen to its winemaking team as chief winemaker, starting with the 2021 vintage. 

Much-awarded Janice McDonald will remain in a senior role at the Margaret River and Great Southern producer, being named as director of winemaking.

Born into a well-known West Australian winemaking family, Bowen has spent the best part of 16  vintages honing his skills at prestigious wineries both in Australia and internationally. 

He is currently employed as the senior winemaker/manager for Accolade’s flagship Tintara Winery, the home of winemaking for Hardys, Chateau Reynella, Leasingham and Yarra Burn. 

‘I am extremely excited to be joining Howard Park; a great Western Australia marque with family heritage at its heart,’ Bowen says. 

‘I have great respect for the Burch family and the wines produced under the Burch Family Wines umbrella.’

‘Having been born in the Great Southern and having studied winemaking in Margaret River, I’ve always had a soft spot for West Australian wines. 

"Returning to the region is an amazing opportunity to immerse myself once again and I am thrilled to be working alongside a valued and experienced team.’

Burch Family Wines owner Jeff Burch says" "Nic’s passion and enthusiasm for sparkling wine stood out, but his broad skillset and ability to make quality wines across the board will complement and build upon our knowledge that can only enhance our offering.

"He and Janice will make a formidable team." 

Family owned and operated, Burch Family Wines produce Howard Park, MadFish, Marchand & Burch and Mon Tout and distribute Champagne marque Franck Bonville. The company is a member of Australia's First Families of Wine.



Push your wine boundaries in Tasmania this weekend

Are you a lover of cool-climate wines that push the boundaries? Are you in Tasmania this weekend? 

If so, the news is good all round with Sailor Seeks Horse Wines holding their latest Vino Amigos tasting series - this one called Wild Amigos. 

Joining the Sailor Seeks Horse team of Paul (above) and Gilli Lipscombe at their winery/tasting room at Port Cygnet Cannery on Sunday from noon-4pm will be two other cutting-edge boutique producers from Tasmania: Luke Andre from Sonnen and Rory Duggan from R. D’Meure. 

Chris Allen from Wildflower will have his beers on offer at the Cannery Bar, alternative country singer Lou Bradley will be performing and there will be the usual Sunday Session happenings at the Cannery with house-made pizzas and other gourmet treats. 

Entry and tastings are free and wines by the glass and bottle will be available for sale. See you there.  

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Discover one of the tiniest distilleries in Australia

The Tasmanian cultural hub of Cygnet is known for its gourmet adventures, boutique wine producers and many artisan cafés and galleries. 

It is now also home to what is believed to be the smallest boutique distillery on the island state - and possibly in Australia.

Cygnet is 40 minutes south of Hobart in the Huon Valley and is where Harry (above) and Brooke Moses were co-founders of Pagan Cider. 

In early 2020 they turned their attention to distilling and plan to eventually produce a range of gins, vodkas, brandies and whiskies in their home distillery in Cradoc, just out of town. 

They are off to a most impressive start after kicking off the business in February last year. 

"We felt it was logical that our next step should be to start Port Cygnet Distillery and pursue a long-standing interest and passion for distilling," Harry Moses said.

"I am proud to have one of Australia's smallest distilleries, using a 30-litre copper pot still, and making just 50 bottles per batch. The distillery is now our family business.

"My gins are intentionally heavy with botanicals, and consequently are rich, smooth, and elegant."

The distillery is zero waste excluding packaging (although ceramic bottles made by local potter Ian Clare will be re-released soon). 

Cooling water is recycled, spent botanicals are composted, cleaning products are all organic, compostable, and used for garden bed preparation and plant watering. 

The current range includes Foundation Gin, Kaffir Lime Gin and Raspberry vodka. At our Christmas party, I created a Cygnet Stinger cocktail from the Foundation Gin, Hartzview Apple Liqueur and bitters. It proved a hit all round. 

The entire range is artisan-produced and beautifully presented - and a cherry vodka is on the way. 

"My grandfather on my Mum’s side created the Cherry Ripe recipe when working for a Melbourne confectionary company,: Harry Moses says. "He then started his own company but obviously didn’t have the rights to that product.

"For some reason cherries keep popping up in the family." 

For details see 

Saturday, 9 January 2021

Airlines under pressure from new Covid outbreaks

Airlines around the globe are continuing to feel the effects of the ongoing Covid-19 virus with Thai regional carrier Bangkok Airways the latest to cut flights.

A new wave of Covid-19 infections and lockdowns across Thailand has forced Bangkok Airways to cut back on services and close its airport lounges, all of which are shut until the end of January, along with service kiosks.

Bangkok Airways has also suspended routes linking the Thai capital with Sukhothai and Trat with immediate effect until the end of the month, Travel Mole reports.

It is also pushing back the launch of new routes.

Bangkok to Hat Yai will now be introduced on April 1, while the new Bangkok to Khon Kaen and Mae Sot routes will begin on May 1 and June 1 respectively, the airline announced.

The launch of all three routes was already pushed back from November and December 2020.

In addition, the airline says it is reducing frequencies on several established routes until the end of February.

These include Bangkok services to Koh Samui, Lampang and Chiang Mai.

Covid cases have surged in Thailand since late December and the Asian nation has now recorded nearly 10,000 cases in total.

Authorities say many cases have been linked in recent days to cockfighting and illegal gambling houses, with officials urging the public to stay away from them.

Bangkok Airways has been flying for over 50 years to destinations in Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong, China, India, Laos, Malysia, Singapore, Maldives, Myanmar and Vietnam.

In Europe, Ryanair has said it may cut all flights from the UK and Ireland from the end of January as it blasted governments in both countries for their "draconian" approach to Covid.

Another budget carrier, EasyJet,  has confirmed it is axing flights from the end of this week, after which it will operate only a small handful of key domestic and international routes.

British Airways, meanwhile, has cancelled its holiday bookings over the next few weeks after initially continuing to sell package deals despite the national lockdown.


Friday, 8 January 2021

Turning wine into gin proves a success

What do when your wine grapes are smoke tainted?

RedHeads winemaker Alex Trescowthick found himself with smoke-affected tempranillo, grenache and graciano fruit from the bushfire-hit Adelaide Hills that had been destined for the Vin’Atus label in 2020.

The small-batch winery in the Barossa Valley instead decided to use the fruit to craft its own gin.

“Throwing the wine away was the last thing we wanted to do,” Trescowthick said.

“The wine wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t quite fit for our Vin’Atus label as we could detect some level of smoke taint. So we thought, why not try distilling it?

"It wasn't going to make the cut for the Vin'Atus label, where it was destined, but it could make a good gin... so off to the local distiller it went.

“The gin has a smooth and rounded mouthfeel with botanicals at the forefront followed by a woody presence."

RedHeads Gin is available through the Studio Bar located at 258 Angaston Road, Angaston, or through the winery website at It retails for $70.

Summer's here and the time is right for going painting in the street

Malaysia has a long history of street art culture.

Just about any street may feature a burst of colour - or an artwork with a message.

Tourism Malaysia just released some lovely images of murals in Klang Valley and the northern region of Malaysia, so I hope you enjoy them as an appetiser for when we can all visit again.