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Wednesday 30 November 2022

Australians can't get enough of avocados

Australians just can't get enough of avocados.

Whether it is smashed avocado on toast, guacamole, or seafood cocktail with avo, Australians are eating more avocado than ever before.

Avocados Australia says that in financial year 2021-22 Australians consumed 4.76kg of avocados per person - a significant increase on the previous year’s figure.

“It’s clear that consumers took advantage of the lower prices experienced this year and ate more avocado,” said John Tyas, CEO of Avocados Australia.

“Avocados aren’t like confectionery. If you eat a little more avocado, you don’t need to feel guilty as you are having more of something that’s healthy and nutritious.

“It is great news that Australians are eating more avocado as that means consumers are benefiting from avocado’s health-giving properties.

“Our facts at a glance figures are a great reference for our growers, or anyone wanting to see how our industry is performing.

“The domestic consumption increase is a welcome trend considering that production is also expected to increase.”

To view Avocados Australia’s FACTS AT A GLANCE key statistics online click here.

Small town whisky distiller on the global stage

A once rundown flour mill in small country town has been transformed into an award-winning whisky distillery.

The abandoned flour mill on the banks of the Murray River on the NSW/Victorian border was purchased for just a dollar just over decade ago but Corowa Distilling Co. was included in official Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Celebrations.

At 21 years of age and with little knowledge of whisky, founder Dean Druce returned to Australia after a two year working holiday on the Canadian ski fields to transform the Corowa property, learning from whisky gurus John MacLellan and Jim McEwan in Scotland as well as expert Australian distiller Bill Lark in Tasmania.

“The property was dilapidated with no roof, missing 650 panes of glass, and no floor, while the mains needed to be connected so the local council sold it to us for $1 after we pitched the idea for a whisky distillery,” Druce recalls.

“We now have 1000 barrels on site with 30% year-on-year growth, employing 50 people and were one of only two whisky distilleries invited to create a signature whisky for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

“I initially thought it was too good to be true; even thinking it might be a scam, so I asked a representative from the Department of Trade and Investment to check and it was legitimate.

“Over the next 12 months we carefully selected a whisky from a single barrel, with a rare and unique flavour profile, which sounds like a difficult job, but basically we had to keep tasting whisky until we found the right blend.

“The barrel we selected has a rich dark chocolate note with a cherry ripe type of aftertaste. Not stewed cherries but more of a sweeter taste with a hint of hazelnut and it’s nice and syrupy.

“It’s a luxurious whisky with rich, decadent fruits, sweet vanillin, and a hint of rosewater, reminiscent of delicate Turkish delight."

Once selected, the team bottled 2,022 bottles of the port cask whisky - the number of bottles to match the year of the Jubilee, - and sealed them with a special stopper.

The limited-edition 700ml bottle - which retails for $950 - is packaged in a one-of-a-kind purple gift box that includes a one dollar coin embedded into the door, a nod to their beginnings in Corowa."

Druce says: “The alcohol volume is also 52% which was again a really nice touch, given Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne in 1952.

“I went to London for the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, me a bloke from Corowa sitting with earls and barons and members of the Royal family, but I couldn’t tell you what their names were."

Fortunately for those without platinum credit cards, other whiskies start from $80 a bottle. 

Druce says community plays a big role at Corowa Distilling Co.

“Corowa has a population of just 7,000, and we are so proud that our whisky is made here, by us," he says. "They say it takes a village to raise a child, well it takes a community to support a business."

Tuesday 29 November 2022

New chief winemaker named at Kooyong and Port Phillip Estate

Talented Tim Perrin has been named as the new chief winemaker of Kooyong and Port Phillip Estate on the Mornington Peninsula. 

Perrin, who joins from Oakridge in the Yarra Valley, will take over from long-time winemaker Glen Hayley, who is leaving the role and departing Australia to pursue other interests. 

Prior to this appointment, Perrin worked as senior winemaker under David Bicknell at Oakridge for seven years, making a significant contribution to the success of the winemaking program there. 

Managing director Marco Gjergja said: "This appointment will enable Tim to build on his knowledge and allow him to bring his talents to Kooyong and Port Phillip Estate, evolving our winemaking in line with our family’s vision."

Perrin said he is looking forward "to building on the legacy of an iconic wine business and propelling it forward into the future to continued success". 

"We believe Tim’s focus, expertise and talent will ensure our family wine business upholds and enhances its reputation as one of the country’s finest boutique chardonnay and pinot noir producers." Gjerga said.

"Following the tough conditions that our business, region and industry have faced over the past three years and the extreme challenges associated with Covid-19, it was inevitable that a few of us would make some life-changing decisions. 

"It was with feelings of sadness, gratitude and respect that I received Glen Hayley’s resignation.

"Over his time with us, Glen’s focus, expertise and talent have been instrumental in raising the quality of our wine. He has always approached his role with total commitment, integrity, enthusiasm and passion. We wish Glen all the best with his future endeavours overseas and look forward to raising a glass to celebrate the 13-year association that we have enjoyed."

Good to see a departing winemaker acknowledged so warmly, Hayley did a great job after taking over from the esteemed Sandro Moselle.  

Perrin will commence as chief winemaker at the beginning of 2023. 

He has worked in California, at Golden State Vintners, as well as in Coonawarra, Yenda, near Griffith, and with Jim Chatto at McWilliams Wines from 2012 to 2015.

Explosive times in Hawaii as volcano eruption begins

The Mauna Loa volcano on Hawai‘i Island has begun to erupt.

The lava currently contained within the summit caldera at the top of the 4170-metre volcano. Hawaii Tourism reports.

The situation is being closely monitored around the clock by scientists from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency, which are providing regular updates.

The last time Mauna Loa erupted was 38 years ago in 1984. The island’s most recent eruption took place in 2018 when Kīlauea Volcano erupted, and lava flowed for several months.

There is currently no lava flow down the slopes of Mauna Loa and no danger to residents or communities on Hawai‘i Island right now.

Local officials says there is no need for tourists to change travel plans to any of the Hawaiian Islands at this time.

But residents and visitors staying in communities downslope of Mauna Loa have been told to have emergency preparedness plans ready in the event an evacuation becomes necessary

People who suffer from asthma, emphysema, COPD, or other types of breathing problems have been warned to take precautions to avoid the ash and vog (volcanic fog) that are characteristic of volcanic eruptions.

Mauna Loa is located on Hawai‘i Island, the southernmost island of the main island chain. Travel to the other islands - Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui, Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i - is unaffected by the eruption.

Hawai‘i Island’s two major airports in Hilo and Kona are currently open and the eruption is not expected to affect their ability to handle the regularly scheduled flights that arrive and depart each day.

But tourists are advised to check with their your airline for the status of their flight.

For information you check out these websites:

The inside dope on a beach resort with herbal intent

Meet the luxury beach resort that is using cannabis as a selling point.

The Beach Samui, on Thailand's Koh Samui island, this week announced the opening of The Herbalist at The Beach Samui, billed as the first in-hotel herbal dispensary in South-East Asia.

It coyly says the new outlet is "designed to aid in healing using natural plant-based remedies to supercharge one's lifestyle."

The Herbalist at The Beach Samui will be staffed by two registered Herbal Pharmacists trained under Thailand's Ministry of Public Health's Department for Development of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine, and a roster of guest practitioners, "to deliver an all-natural healing experience as each guest wishes".

The hotel website says the "in-hotel medical cannabis and herbal dispensary will serve the finest cannabis flower, gourmet edibles and infused teas."

"Under the guidance of government-trained herbal pharmacists, using purpose-driven, certified-clean, plant-based cannabis ingredients, guests are invited to experience "a truly magical combination of cannabinoids that enhance the natural journey of well-being with a focus on the celebration of health and relaxation throughout their stay".

The Beach has 21 suites with ocean views, an a restaurant with a focus on infused Thai home-style cooking - just in case you get a big hungry!

The inside dope is that T-Basa, a cannabis industry leader in Thailand, will spearhead licensing and cultivation.

Charlotte Rose Melsom, founding partner of The Beach Samui, says: "Thailand has a long history of medicinal herb use and is once again celebrating their importance in everyday life.

"It has become our purpose to create a place where those wishing to discover the well-being benefits of medicinal herbs and cannabinoids can do so in a safe, monitored and elevated journey of outstanding hospitality, ultimate comfort, authentic experience and fundamental education."

Visit for more details and a chance to win a free stay.

How holidays can help boost our overall happiness

Travellers will be looking trips and destinations that aid their happiness in 2023, one expert predicts.

And that pursuit of happiness will be even more important in tough economic times that lay ahead.

I'm not sure how seriously you can take comments from someone who calls themselves "Dr Happy" - but here we go.

Oaks Hotels, Resorts & Suites’ Resident Happiness Expert, Dr Tim Sharp (aka Dr Happy) has shared his reasons why the search for happiness will be a key travel trend in 2023.

While many people may think that rising living costs will take travel off the agenda, founder of The Happiness Institute, Dr Sharp (aka Dr Happy, below), says there’s no need for travel to be extensive for it to have a positive impact on our physical and mental wellbeing.

Rather than Ferraris, Fendi and fine dining, the reason travel is such a significant contributor to our happiness is simpler things, such as ‘taking time out from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, creating opportunities to try new things, and sharing experiences and making connections with friends and family.

"Research has shown that travel taps into some of the key principles of happiness because it’s intrinsically linked to embracing new experiences and breaking out of our usual routines, Dr Sharp says (sorry, I just can't call him Dr Happy).

"Trying new things gives us the good feels and creates opportunities to learn and gain confidence, which in turn reduces stress and boosts our mood and satisfaction levels – contributing to that overall happy feeling.

"There is no doubt experiences trump material possessions every time, and the more frequently we’re able to get away, the happier we are.

“Even the initial step of researching and booking time away creates the joy of anticipation, with an incredible 97% of people confirming they feel happier when they have a trip to look forward to, and 71% of people saying they feel energised when they have travel coming up within six months."

Minor Hotels’ Head of Commercial for Australia and New Zealand, John Thompson, says the company’s new brand platform Happy Folks Choose Oaks centres around the same philosophy, that simple things such as a weekend staycation in your own city, a road trip to a regional destination, or a coastal getaway with family and friends were central to happy stays for the company’s guests.

Thompson says there is a definite trend towards extended long weekends, with travellers increasingly booking stays from Friday through to Monday instead of the conventional Friday/Saturday weekend getaways of old.

This is due to the flexibility of remote and hybrid working - and a growing intolerance for hectic airports (Friday night, Sunday night, Monday morning) and peak-hour traffic.

Following experiences with airport chaos, lost baggage, cancellations and soaring prices, Australians are also swapping airline cabins for the car and taking more self-drive holidays, Thompson says.

Visit the Oaks Hotels website for more info and the chance to win a holiday as The Happiest Person.

To view the commercial and assets, please find link here.

Monday 28 November 2022

At 1500kg Pantaleon is not your average airline passenger

Meet Pantaleón, who is not your average airline passenger.

The four-year-old 1500kg rhino was recently flown from Buiz Zoo, south of Santiago in Chile, to his new home in the city of Pereira, Colombia by LATAM Airlines.

The transport of the endangered animal was part of a collaboration between Modern Zoos for the Conservation of Endangered Species, LATAM Cargo, Bilbao Air Cargo and Buin Zoo.

Months of planning and training went into executing this operation so that the rhino travelled safely on its journey of over 6000km.

Pantaleón is the first white rhinoceros born in Chile and was transferred from Buin Zoo to the Ukumarí Biopark in Colombia to join two females for reproduction and conservation of the species.

“Being part of the birth of Pantaleón and then witnessing him grow is something unique and wonderful, so there is no doubt that his departure is very hard too, but the most important thing is that we are making a real contribution to the conservation of a species that is disappearing," says Ignacio Idalsoaga, director of Buin Zoo.

“LATAM Cargo is proud to participate in this operation that contributes to the preservation of such a unique and wonderful species," says Juan Pablo Marquez, manager of cargo operations for LATAM.

"It takes months of preparation to understand the type of animal, its behaviour and select an expert team to accompany the rhino throughout the shipping. Everything must be very well calculated and coordinated between the different participants so that the animal is transported safely.” 

Pantaleon is a name meaning "lion of all".

On a budget? Here's somewhere new to stay in Auckland from $55 per night

Looking for an affordable place to stay Auckland?

Say hello to LyLo - a new lifestyle budget accommodation experience opening in Auckland CBD on  December 1.

But you'll have to make some compromises.

Aimed at cost-conscious travellers, the first Lylo property offers sleeping pods for a different travel experience.

The LyLo concept features multi-purpose spaces to play, eat, work and sleep with a mix of 190 private sleeping pods, 37 private double rooms with shared amenities and 70 private rooms with en-suite bathrooms.

The property also features a fully equipped shared kitchen (that worries me; could get messy), breakout spaces to lounge with friends, find a quiet nook to read or plug-in to work, plus Miss Lucy’s bar.

“Our flagship LyLo property has been designed for travellers to stay in an epic and affordable way by giving them all the perks of communal and social travel but with the privacy of their own comfortable sleeping space," says Lylo managing director Tim Alpe.

“We’ve torn up the rulebook and turned budget accommodation on its head. LyLo Auckland is meticulously designed, based on real insights into what a traveller needs with stylish finishes.

"We are excited to open what will be a super affordable place to sleep for savvy travellers. We can’t wait to welcome travellers to what will be the largest lifestyle budget accommodation of its kind in New Zealand and will reset the benchmark for this sector globally.”

LyLo Auckland will be the flagship property followed by the Jucy Snooze pod experiences in Christchurch and Queenstown transitioning to LyLo properties in 2023.

Each private pod features a king single bed; Bluetooth storage locker; multiple power and USB charging ports; fast wifi; lighting, fan, mirror and acoustic privacy screens.

Pods can be booked from $55 per night, while the private and en-suite rooms start from $109 and $159 per night respectively. Female-only pod rooms are also available.

LyLo is part of EVT’s travel portfolio across Australia and New Zealand which includes QT Hotels and Resorts; Rydges Hotels and Resorts; Atura Hotels and the Independent Collection by EVT.

To book see

Meet wines exploring the essence of the biodynamic calendar

Here is one for the serious wine nerds.

Take two world-class chardonnays from the same vineyard made in almost identical manner.

The only real difference is that one was made from fruit picked on a flower day on the biodynamic calendar, and the other was made fruit picked on a fruit day.

The amazing thing is that the two wines do show distinct differences - and certainly provoke interesting discussion.

The wines in question are the Cullen 2021 Legacy Series Flower Day Kevin John Chardonnay and the Cullen 2021 Legacy Series Fruit Day Kevin John Chardonnay. Both are made in tiny quantities and retail for $350 a bottle.

So not wines for everyone, then.

Vanya Cullen explains that her father Kevin John "wanted to improve the breed and these small batches are made as an experimental series to make the best chardonnay".

Both artisanal Margaret River wines were hand harvested and after hand sorting the bunches were placed in amphora for two days of skin contact before pressing into 50% new puncheons to ferment, then resting in oak for eight months before bottling, with no fining or filtration.

Both wines are from the Cullen Vineyard and are 100% chardonnay. The "flower day" fruit was harvested on February 12 – a flower day. The "fruit day" wine was harvested on February 17 - an Apogee fruit day.

Both wines have, as you'd expect, a thread of commonality; structure and balance, but the flower day wine is a touch nervier, more highly strung and a little prettier.

The fruit day wine is a slightly bigger wine, more complete in its youth, I felt, with immense depth of flavour that filled the palate with myriad nuances.

The fruit day wine for me right now; the flower day for the cellar. But both paired brilliantly with red snapper.

In comparison, the standard 2021 Kevin John Chardonnay ($160) was harvested across three weeks including fruit and flower days and fermented naturally in biodynamic barrels, concrete eggs and amphorae. It sees less new oak.

For those keen to know more, go to

Sunday 27 November 2022

Are you guilty of secret racism when it comes to your gourmet shopping?

Are you a gourmet racist when going supermarket shopping?

I plead guilty to this offence. 

I prefer to buy local if I can, but I also choose to buy food from countries that I most enjoy visiting and where I like the people. 

So I will be more likely to buy foodstuffs from France, Thailand, Italy, South Africa and New Zealand than from, say, Israel or China, with their odious politics. The US? Not my first choice. Serbia? Probably not. 

New Zealanders are generally terrific people and I enjoy both visiting their country and enjoying their wine and food.

The Kiwis are back in Australia with another New Zealand Made With Care campaign returning to our shores with 42 brands on board.

The campaign aims to underline Kiwi clean and green credentials and to encourage Australians to sample products they may not have tried before.

New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) is promoting "the country’s values, originating from Māori
culture, that underpin the superlative produce created on the land. 

These values include Kaitiakitanga (protecting and caring for people, place, and planet for future generations), and Manaakitanga (caring for others and showing hospitality, kindness and respect) and ingenuity. 

“We’ve seen enormous success from the NZ Made with Care campaign this year, so making the decision to continue the initiative was an easy one," says NZTE regional director Glen Murphy. 

"We’re excited to welcome new brands on board this campaign and will keep working with our partners to drive awareness and preference for the outstanding and nutritious produce of New Zealand: a place you can trust. 

"It is clear that our Australian consumers feel just as strongly as we do about supporting sustainable food and beverages and nurturing and protecting the world around us.” 

Think wines from brands including Te Mata Estate, Pyramid Valley, Smith & Sheth and Tohu, plus new additions to the campaign including Te Whare Ra, Spy Valley and Forrest Wines.

It is a big stat that 96% of all the vineyard areas in New Zealand are certified sustainable.

Or think Zeffer Cider and Bliss Lager from Garage Project beers, Homegrown Spirulina (which got a huge tick from my wife), Fix & Fogg nut butters, Tom & Luke's treats and Whittaker’s newest oat milk chocolate. 

Tasmanian seafood icon gets a seasonal makeover

No trip to the north-west of Tasmania is complete without a seafood feast at Hursey's on the waterfront at Stanley.

The family has its own fishing fleet and runs a large wholesale fish operation as well as a restaurant in take-away and fresh fish sales.

The restaurant backs on to the Nut Reserve, with a large lobster on the roof and great views of the old Stanley port.

The restaurant has undergone a major re-styling ahead of Tasmanian holiday season..

Visitors will discover a new menu focusing on local produce and wild-caught seafood as well as a new wine list, with experience described as a "from our fleet to your plate” experience.

Dishes include the long-time staples of fish and chips and seafood marinara as well as fish tacos, pan-seared striped trumpeter, and fresh southern rock lobster (Tasmanian crayfish) served with Stanley saltbush butter.

Hursey’s crayfish are kept live in tanks so they are available fresh all year round. Children, vegetarians, and those wanting non-seafood options are also catered for.

The restaurant revamp features charcoal tones and there are modern and vintage coastal artworks mixed in with pieces that celebrate the family’s fishing history, like time-worn wooden oars, old portholes, a ship's compass and old fishing charts.

Fishing ropes have been hand-tied by fishermen Steven and Mark Hursey.

Story boards and photographs leading into the restaurant share an important part of the Hursey family story. The dramatic and rugged fishing images on display were captured by Steven Hursey of TVs Aussie Lobster Men.

Bookings are recommended on or(03) 6458 1103.

Saturday 26 November 2022

Covid-riddled cruise ship turned away from Bali

Cunard's website proclaims that passengers can "cruise in confidence" but Indonesian authorities have ordered the Covid-affected Queens Elizabeth to abandon the Balinese leg of its current 17-day cruise following a pandemic outbreak.

The Queen Elizabeth is carrying around 2100 passengers and crew on a 17-day cruise, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The Queen Elizabeth left Sydney on November 15, stopping at Airlie Beach, Cairns, Port Douglas and Darwin, the newspaper reported, but will cut short the final week of its tour and head straight to Fremantle.

A spokeswoman for Cunard, owner of the ship, confirmed there was “an elevated level of transmission” on board, but declined to provide case numbers, the SMH said.

“Unfortunately, due to the ongoing rise in community transmission across Australia and this being reflected on various cruise lines, we’re unable to visit Indonesia at this time,” she said.

“This has followed ongoing conversations with the respective authorities in Bali, and we understand and respect the current circumstances we’re operating in. In light of this, we will sail into Fremantle in the coming days as planned.”

The cruise liner's next voyage is scheduled to begin on December 2, when it will return to Sydney via Esperance, Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, Melbourne and Burnie.

Rules on flying with liquids may soon be eased

One of the most annoying aspects of flying internationally is the restriction on the amount of liquid you can carry with you as hand luggage.

On domestic flights in Australia, and many other countries, you can carry a couple of bottles of Champagne should you meet the weight allowance.

You can also carry bottles of water, should you wish.

On international flights the rules vary from airport to airport;

Sometimes you are allowed to carry a bottle of water onto your plane if it has been purchased airside. Other times, your bottle of water will be taken from you by super-keen security agents.

The rules are, of course, complete bunkum. A heavy bottle of Champagne (particularly if smashed) is a far more dangerous weapon than the tiny pocket knife I recently had taken from me at Adelaide Airport.

But there is zero common sense involved. It is all about image. And making passengers feel safe.

Good news, however, from the UK, where airports are planning to ditch the ban on liquids over 100ml by 2024, the Evening Standard newspaper reports.

Passengers travelling through UK airports will be able to carry drinks, make up and liquids of any size in their hand luggage.

New technology means passengers will be able to keep everything in their bags instead of being asked to remove laptops and ditch liquids over 100ml at screening. 

How the new scanner will be able to tell the difference between water, and say, acid, or, liquid explosives, was not revealed.

There were massive queues at British airports over the northern summer due to bag and border control checks, which would be alleviated under the plans to drop the liquid rule.

Department for Transport trials of the new technology are underway at Heathrow Airport, Gatwick and Birmingham.

Shannon and Donegal airports in Ireland, which have 3D scanners in operation, have already lifted their bans, The Times reports.

Photo by Michele Princigalli on Scopio

New look, new range for Hunter winery Bimbadgen

For well over four decades Bimbadgen Estate has been one of the "must visit" destinations in the Hunter Valley.

Whether you enjoy a wine tasting, a leisurely vineyard lunch or an open-air concert, Bimbadgen has a reputation for professionalism.

Now winemaker Richard Done and his team have released Bimbadgen's most widely available range with a new look and a new name.

The switch is aimed to refresh the Growers Range to broaden its appeal and more clearly differentiate between the three Bimbadgen wine portfolios.

The Growers Range will showcase Hunter Valley classics - along with new and emerging styles.

The new livery is decorating the 2022 Vermentino, 2022 Rosé and a 2021 Shiraz Cabernet, all of which are priced at a very reasonable $28 per bottle.

Both the vermentino and rosé received gold medals at the 2022 Hunter Valley Wine Show, with the vermentino taking out the trophy for Best Other White Wine.

The very brisk and lively vermentino, a terrific summer thirst quencher, is my definite favourite, followed by the zingy and lively rosé, made from tempranillo grapes. Both should be enjoyed chilled.

Bimbadgen’s Single Vineyard ($45) and Signature ($85) brands continue unchanged.

“We are thrilled to be launching this new look for the Growers Range to showcase our winemaking and the quality of Hunter Valley grapes to a broader consumer market," Done says.

“Growers Range is fresh, fun and approachable, with a price point to match, and this will give us the brand architecture to expand its footprint."

Bimbadgen is owned by property and hospitality group Mulpha which has expanded its Hunter Valley portfolio to include Bimbadgen Palmers Lane and the boutique Emma’s Cottage in Lovedale.

Mulpha general manager Belinda Stapleton, said: "“Bimbadgen is the jewel in the crown of our Hunter Valley portfolio and the launch of this fresh new-look Growers Range will allow us to better illustrate our diversity within the wine portfolio.”

The Growers Range can be purchased at Bimbadgen cellar door and select stockists, as well as at Mulpha stablemates the InterContinental Sydney, Hayman Island and Sanctuary Cove.

Friday 25 November 2022

A big wave of Moxy to hit Australia and New Zealand

An American ex boss of mine once said that I had "a lot of moxy".

I think he meant that I was a loudmouth pain-in-the-ass, but the word can also mean vibrant and full of of sass.

The online dictionary spells the world moxie, and defines it as "force of character, determination, or nerve".

It is a good name for a hotel brand with a fresh young vibe. 

I've enjoyed recent stays at two Moxy hotels; one in Glasgow, Scotland, and, more recently, at Milan Airport earlier this year.

The one at Malpensa gave me a late check out (delayed flight) for a very reasonable fee, had fast, free wifi and served delicious chilled Lugana at the bar. What more do you need? 
Australia will get its first Moxy when the Moxy Sydney Airport Hotel opens in the middle of next year.

The first Moxy Hotel to open in Australia for Marriott International, it is a $140 million project for joint venture owners RF Corval and KS Hotels & Resorts.

The hotel is located directly alongside Sydney Airport and will feature 301 guest rooms, the Moxy Kitchen and Moxy Bar – which will serve as a buzzing communal space and check-in area.

The property will also includes 199sqm of meeting and event space.

The hotel is billed being "conveniently positioned on a major thoroughfare into both the Sydney domestic and international terminals" - but they are a bloody long way from each other, so I am not sure how that will work.

Sean Hunt, area vice president for Marriott International, said: “The playful Moxy brand is one of Marriott International’s fastest growing brands in the Asia Pacific region - and we have four more in the pipeline in Melbourne, Perth, Auckland and Queenstown.

"With air travel now at 77% of pre-Covid levels and continuing to grow, Moxy Sydney Airport is located here in the heart of Australia’s international and domestic visitor gateway.”

Spicy future envisaged for Chinatown

A new plan to upgrade and reinvigorate Dixon Street in Chinatown has been unanimously endorsed by the City of Sydney Council. 

Consultation with more than 1,150 residents and businesses helped shaped the plan, which includes $5 million to revive Dixon Street Mall, restore its famed gates, install new seating as well as creative lighting overlays and improved services to support events.


Lord Mayor Clover Moore said it was important for the City to work with local communities to breathe new life into the historic area, especially following the impacts of Covid-19.    


“Our community in Chinatown was one of the first and hardest hit by the pandemic, and it continues to suffer while international tourism and study has not yet fully returned,” Moore said.


“While we have been safely activating public places and inviting people back to experience all Chinatown has to offer since Covid restrictions were eased, we’re excited to ensure its long-term future by reinvigorating Dixon Street as a dynamic space for people, daily life and culture.


“Our communities have enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to help us shape the Dixon Street precinct and painted a picture that celebrates the diversity of Asian cultures, food and history. 


“We know the renewal of the Chinatown Gates is incredibly important and it is a focus for us as we move forward with our plans.”  


Since 2010, Sydney has has initiated several public space investments in the Chinatown precinct. 


“Now, through our proposed public domain improvements in the heart of Chinatown, we will make the area an even more attractive environment for people to walk around and spend time, which will in turn support local businesses and economic activity,” Moore says.


Residents, businesses and visitors were invited to complete surveys and attend community forums in English and Asian languages to ensure they were part of the plans for the area. 


Contributors highlighted the need to reflect the cultural diversity of the area, increasing authentic and affordable food and retail experiences. They said it was important to respect the heritage and traditions of Chinatown while exploring exciting new ways to express culture. 


Key long-term priorities for Haymarket are:   


  • boosting lighting to create a safe and colourful atmosphere 
  • increasing events, activities and outdoor dining on the streets 
  • more seating  
  • preserving the local character and cultural heritage 
  • extending trading hours to boost the thriving nightlife 
  • more public art. 


Dixon Street’s management is split between the City of Sydney and the NSW Government, with Placemaking NSW (a name obviously created by a committee of creatives) taking over Dixon Street north between Goulburn and Liverpool streets and the City of Sydney managing the pedestrianised area between Goulburn and Hay streets. 

For more details see  

Tourism figures continue to soar around the globe

International tourism is on track to reach 65% of pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022 as the travel industry continues to bounce back from the pandemic.

An estimated 700 million tourists travelled internationally between January and September, more than double (+133%) the number recorded for the same period in 2021.

This equates to 63% of 2019 levels and puts the sector on course to reach 65% of its pre-pandemic levels this year, in line with United Nations World Tourism Organisation predictions.

The UNWTO said results were boosted by strong pent-up demand, improved confidence levels and the lifting of restrictions in an increasing number of destinations.

Europe continues to lead the rebound. The continent welcomed 477 million international arrivals in January-September 2022 (68% of the world total), hitting 81% of pre-pandemic levels.

This was more than double that of 2021 (+126%) with results boosted by strong intra-regional demand and travel from the United States. Europe saw particularly robust performance in Q3, when arrivals reached almost 90% of 2019 levels.

At the same time, the Middle East saw international arrivals more than triple (+225%) year on year in January-September 2022, climbing to 77% of pre-pandemic levels.

Africa (+166%) and the Americas (+106%) also recorded strong growth compared to 2021, reaching 63% and 66% of 2019 levels, respectively. In Asia and the Pacific (+230%) arrivals more than tripled in the first nine months of 2022, reflecting the opening of many destinations, including Japan at the end of September.

Arrivals in Asia and the Pacific remained 83% below 2019 levels as China, a key source market for the region, remains closed.

Destinations reporting arrivals above pre-pandemic levels in the nine months through September include Albania, Ethiopia, Honduras, Andorra, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Colombia, El Salvador and Iceland.

Thursday 24 November 2022

The smaller the better when it comes to cruising?

I am not a big fan of those mega-sized cruise ships that are bigger than a shopping mall - particularly in the age of Covid.

I am much more tempted by small ship cruises, or my favourite, river cruises, with small numbers of passengers and no long lines to get on and off board at each port.

One such small craft, Windstar Cruises 312-passenger, all-suite Star Breeze yacht, is making its first-ever visit to Australia. It began in Sydney, embarking on a 13-day privately chartered cruise to Melbourne, arriving on December 4.

The charter cruise kicks off several weeks of Australia-based sailings for the small ship cruise line.

Itineraries include first-time ports in Mooloolaba and Phillip Island.

Windstar will leave Australia on February 7, 2023, returning in December, 2023.

I'll be jumping on board to take a look in a couple of weeks' time.

“In addition to expected Australian tourist highlights like the Sydney Opera House and the Great Barrier Reef, Windstar strives to take its guests down the road less travelled to immerse them in the region’s history, traditional culture, and incredible wine country,” says Windstar president Christopher Prelog.

“Windstar goes to rarely visited small ports like Thursday and Middle Percy islands, and offers a series of thoughtfully curated shore excursions ranging from meeting with researchers at the Lizard Island Research Station to sampling Tasmania’s finest produce.

"We are all about getting our guests away from the crowds, up close with wildlife, and tasting the best flavours of the region.”

Windstar’s next Australian itinerary Tasman Sea Treasures: New Zealand Fjords & Southern Australia departs Melbourne on December 4, sailing to Auckland over 14 days.

On December 18, the Wildlife & Wines of New Zealand itinerary operates from Auckland to Christchurch, followed by the reverse on December 30.

Another Tasman Sea Treasures cruise departs on January 10 from Auckland to Melbourne, followed by a Melbourne to Cairns journey on January 25 called Deep Dive Down Under: the Great Barrier Reef & Beyond

All sailings take place on Windstar’s newly renovated Star Breeze.

The yacht was cut in half/lengthened with 50 new suites and has two new restaurants, a spa/fitness centre, and more efficient engines, among other improvements.

More details on Windstar’s Australia and New Zealand itineraries can be found here:

Don't panic, but your flight might soon only have one pilot

UPDATE: This is even more pertinent after an American Eagle flight a few days ago when the pilot collapsed at the controls shortly after takeoff and later died. 

Every thought about what happens if your pilot has a heart attack, or is somehow unable to fly the plane?

Simple. There is always a second pilot, often called the co-pilot, or first officer, on board to take over in case of an emergency.

Or there has been until now.

The industry newsletter Travel Mole reports that a call for single pilot-operated commercial flights is gaining momentum.

The reason? Money.

Having just one pilot in the cockpit is an obvious plus for cost-conscious airlines, despite the safety fears.

More than 40 countries have petitioned the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to set aviation standards to allow single-pilot flights.

They include Germany, the UK and New Zealand.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has been collaborating with plane manufacturers to work out how solo pilots could operate flights safely.

EASA says solo pilot services could begin by 2027.

It could be a very controversial move.

“The people going down this route are not the people who fly jets every day,” Tony Lucas, president of the Australian and International Pilots Association said.

“When things go awry, they go awry fairly quickly."

Janet Northcote, EASA’s head of communications, said: “We are potentially removing the last piece of human redundancy from the flight deck."

EASA says sometime after 2030, flying could be automated; allowing planes to be remotely landed if a pilot became unresponsive.

Your life in the hands of virgin technology? Somehow I am not reassured.

Wednesday 23 November 2022

So you think you could organise a piss up in a brewery?


So you've always dreamed of owning and operating a craft brewery?

How about one on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula with a proven track record over two decades?

The Red Hill Brewery, one of Australia's pioneering small brewers, was this week placed on the market by Karen and Dave Golding, who have operated the business for 22 years.

Red Hill Brewery has a local focus with a relaxed environment where visitors enjoy good beer and food.

“As our family have grown up, and our business matured, we are looking toward our future and think after all this time we have a few more goals in our lives to look forward to," the Goldings said on LinkedIn.

"Hopefully, a semi-retirement and travelling is on the cards for our future!

“We are proud of the business we have created and hope to be able to find new owners that will be passionate custodians of the craft of great beer and to be part of the beautiful Mornington Peninsula community and environment.”

The sale of the property and business is being handled by Kay & Burton.

Older travellers being victimised

Older travellers are being penalised by being charged additional hidden costs and restricted choice, new research by British consumer organisation Which? has found.

The costs relate to purchasing holiday essentials including travel insurance and car hire," Travel Mole reports.

Older people have long been charged higher premiums for their travel insurance, with advancing age a recognised risk factor pushing up prices.

Which? also found data from that shows that since Covid, the amount older travellers are paying has risen disproportionately.

For a single trip policy covering a week in Spain, those aged 25-54 would on average have paid around £7.98 in 2019, while in July this year, they paid an average of £10.65.

Older age groups have borne the brunt of steeper increases, with the amount paid by the 85+ age group rising an absurd 169%.

Those in the 75-84 bracket have seen policies rising on average by 60%.

Which? is concerned that recent price rises for older travellers are disproportionate.

It recently scrutinised 199 travel insurance policies and discovered 190 of these (95%) set a maximum age threshold for new customers.

Car hire is another area in which older travellers are likely to be short-changed.

Many companies bury age restrictions in their terms and conditions documents.

Avis, Budget, Enterprise and Hertz only ask to confirm if they are over 30 when booking online, meaning drivers could be at the desk before discovering prohibitive age restrictions.

To add to the confusion, age restrictions can often vary between locations, even when using the same company.

Fees for older drivers are also often exorbitant.

Which? has also found evidence of older travellers being penalised because of digital exclusion.

Those in older age groups who may lack technological skills will likely end up paying more as a result.

Saga, which offers insurance exclusively to the over 50s, charges as much as 30% less for those who book online.

Airlines including British Airways and easyJet charge customers more to amend a booking by phone.

A similar situation no doubt exists in Australia. 

Guy Hobbs, editor of Which? Travel, said: “If you are an older traveller, it’s important to shop around and compare the rates on offer, as there’s likely to be a great deal of variation between providers.

Image: Nikol Mudrová on Scopio.

Big-spending stores accused of misleading customers

Who would have thought that nice, cuddly Gerry Harvey would mislead his customers?

Amazing, but true.

An investigation from from consumer advocate CHOICE ahead of this year’s Black Friday (ho hum) sales has found Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi and The Good Guys stores are misleading customers about their rights to a refund, replacement or repair.

CHOICE conducted a mystery shop of 80 Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi and The Good Guys stores across the country and found:

# 71% of stores provided misleading information on a consumer’s rights if their product broke beyond the warranty period.
# 91% tried to sell poor-value extended warranties that often don’t provide much more cover than you already have under the Australian Consumer Law.
# Stores argued "if it's over two years, you have to pay for the repairs yourself”, “After the manufacturer's warranty there's nothing we can do, it's out of our hands” and “If something happened after one year unfortunately it's at your own cost.”

Read the full story here:

All three brands are known for their big spending on advertising, so don't expect to read too much about this in the mainstream media.

“We were shocked by the results of our mystery shop of Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi and The Good Guys," says CHOICE editorial director Marg Rafferty.

"Consumer guarantees mean retailers must help customers if a product breaks within a reasonable period of time - even if the manufacturer’s warranty has expired.

“When we asked about consumer rights outside the manufacturer’s warranty period, stores tried to sell us extended warranties, which are not much more than a sneaky sales tactic designed to squeeze more money from concerned customers.

“Existing consumer rights provide all the protection you need against faulty products, so it’s incredibly disappointing to see these big retailers pushing poor-value extended warranties onto consumers during a cost of living crisis.”

While it is illegal for retailers to breach consumer guarantees, currently there are no fines for breaking this law.

“Without fines for doing the wrong thing, too many businesses are getting away with telling consumers they’ll be denied their right to a repair, replacement or refund when something goes wrong with a product or service,” says Rafferty.

Tuesday 22 November 2022

Nespresso unveils paper-based capsules than can be home composted

Ever felt bad about using aluminium Nespresso capsules when you make a coffee? You guilt is about to be assuaged.

Nespresso this week unveiled a new range of paper-based home-compostable capsules that it says have taken over three years of research and development.

Nespresso says the home-compostable paper-based capsules will have zero impact on the taste experience.

The company says consumer demand for compostable packaging is increasing, and an estimated 45% of French people now home compost one or more types of biowaste.

Guillaume Le Cunff, the Nespresso CEO, said: "We are more committed than ever to widening the sustainable choices we offer our consumers.

"We are excited to announce our first ever paper-based home compostable capsule, which will complement our offering of aluminium capsules that are both recyclable and made using 80% recycled aluminium. This is about yet another sustainable choice, without compromising on quality."

Julia Lauricella, Head of Nestlé System Technology Center, said: "Our 40 years of experience in coffee systems allowed us, together with the Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences, to develop a home compostable paper-based capsule, retro-compatible with the Nespresso Original machines, that meets and exceeds the high expectations consumers have of Nespresso in terms of protecting the coffee's aromas and taste.

"We combined a high-precision paper pulp forming process with a biodegradable layer for protection against oxidation to preserve our coffee in transport, storage and during the high-pressure extraction in our machines."

Nespresso's coffee masters have also created four new blends, including an organic coffee, specifically crafted to work in harmony with the new paper-based capsules.


Visit a special café with lots of eel feeling

Visitors can combine a journey along Victoria's iconic Great Ocean Road with a trip to the Budj Bim restaurant and aquaculture centre for a taste of First Nations cuisine.

The hub for newly launched indigenous owned-and-operated Budj Bim Cultural Landscape Tourism, the Tae Rak Traditional Aquaculture Centre and Café is the departure point for the attraction’s Gunditjmara cultural tours, as well as a chance for day-trippers to experience a taste of Gunditjmara culture.

The venue is set on the shores of Tae Rak (Lake Condah) houses a kooyang (eel) holding tank and processing facility.

The venue and Gunditjmara guides bring to life kooyang farming techniques practiced by Gunditjmara people over hundreds of generations.

The Tae Rak Aquaculture Centre and Café is designed to blend with the landscape and includes a tour desk and a retail space as well as al fresco dining overlooking Tae Rak.

The venue is accessible via ramps and boardwalks that protect the natural environment.

The Tae Rak Café is open Wednesday to Sunday from 9am. Meals featuring local and sustainably produced seasonal ingredients including eel tasting plates are prepared using traditional Aboriginal techniques and flavours and are available between 10am and 2pm.

Meals are designed and delivered by a local Gunditjmara chef. Think dishes like eel arancini, eel pâté, smoked eel and crisp eel-skin crackling. Coffee and cake are also available all day.

The facility is just 40 minutes’ drive from either of the popular Great Ocean Road visitor towns of Port Fairy and Portland.

The Tae Rak Traditional Aquaculture Centre and Café is also proving a popular lunch destination for sightseers from the Mount Gambier and Dunkeld regions, and is a possible stopover for travellers to and from South Australia.

The facility was built to strengthen and maintain the Gunditjmara community’s connections to the traditional practice of kooyang farming and smoking for future generations.

Commercial activities such as cultural tours of the landscape, sales from the cafe and of smoked kooyang to visitors aim to keep Gunditjmara people working on country sustainably, and in alignment with the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape values.

Monday 21 November 2022

Little Gold Coast rooftop cabins with a difference

Bored with regular hotel rooms? Enjoy staying somewhere with a point of difference?

QT Hotels has just launched a rooftop cabin experience on the Gold Coast.

qtQT is described as "an urban oasis within QT Gold Coast's most-loved designer playground".

Think six qtQT cabins in a unique open-air setting.

The cabins each feature a private balcony and guests can book one, or secure all six cabins exclusively, with each cabin suitable for solo stays, or up to two guests.

Guests can make their stay unique with individualised Curated Experiences.

These experiences are bespoke activities organised by qtQT's Curator of Sunshine (unfortunately a very wanky name).

Think a meal on The Terrace, an al fresco dining area, followed by star gazing by the firepit or bespoke local adventures.

“At EVT, part of our property strategy is to innovate to commercialise under-utilised spaces and we refer to this as 'maximising our assets'," says EVT CEO Jane Hastings.

"When designing the overall QT Gold Coast upgrade, we identified a previously unused lower-level rooftop.

"We had been exploring the world of tiny accommodation and standing there as the sun set, we knew this would be the perfect location to trial our interpretation of this experience, the QT way.

"The cabins are low-key coastal cool, designed for the modern traveller, exclusive group stays or an innovative event option.”

EVT operates hotel brands including QT, Rydges and Atura.  

Book at

Arthur or Martha? The choice is all yours

There is a new fine dining experience in the Adelaide Hills with spectacular views over Piccadilly Valley. 

Martha Hardy's Kitchen is the new a la carte restaurant at Mount Lofty House, and is open daily for lunch and dinner.

It is named after Martha, the wife of Arthur Hardy, who was the historical custodian of the estate in the 1850s. The couple was known for hosting grand social events, with Martha regularly roasting whole sides of lamb in her kitchen to feed guests.

The menu is a tribute to Martha Hardy’s home-style cooking with slow-cooked lamb (17 hours and served with served with caramelised pumpkin puree, confit turnip, heritage carrots and garlic jus) as the signature dish.

Dining at Martha Hardy's Kitchen is more casual than what is described as the "decadent formality" of Hardy's Verandah restaurant, which is also at the estate.

Both, however, share the vista over the Piccadilly Valley and its vineyards.

The menu focuses on fresh South Australian produce including Port Lincoln yellowfin tuna, Coonawarra beef, and Murray Bridge free range chicken. The wine list features local stars like Shaw + Smith, Deviation Road, Casa Freschi, Barrister's Block and Murdoch Hill - with a wide selection by the glass. 

Vegetarian dishes include Mediterranean stuffed eggplant, chimichurri cauliflower and lemongrass and turmeric pumpkin soup.

Martha’s is located on the lower level of Mount Lofty House. See

Sunday 20 November 2022

Why you should avoid New York State right now

Heading for New York State this week? Maybe wait a few days.

The western part of the state has had early winter snowfalls of up to 1.9 metres and even long-time residents have been amazed by the falls, particularly around the city of Buffalo.

Massive snowdrifts have made driving near impossible - with many major roads closed.

The snowfall was blamed for at least two deaths due to “cardiac events” related to shovelling and moving snow, county officials said, and an estimated 280 people needed to be rescued said New York Governor Kathy Hochul.

Orchard Park, the home of the Buffalo Bills football team, has 1.9 metres of snow and the Bills were forced to move a home game scheduled for Sunday against the Cleveland Browns to 300+km away in Detroit.

Dozens of flights arriving and departing from Buffalo Niagara International Airport were cancelled as storm conditions worsened, the airport’s website reported.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown told CNN that while his city is used to heavy snow, this is “much more than we usually get.”

“This has been a very unpredictable storm with the snow bands moving, back and forth, north to south,” Brown said. “The snow has come down very fast, very wet, very heavy.”

Yet another issue at troubled Heathrow Airport


Barely a week goes by without some report of issues at London's Heathrow Airport.

The latest is that ground workers at Heathrow have started a three-day strike over a pay dispute.

The Unite union, which represents the workers, says the strike involves 350 workers employed by sub-contractor Menzies.

Unite says it could disrupt flights departing terminals 2, 3 and 4.

Flights operated by Air Canada, American Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Air Portugal, Austrian Airlines, Qantas, Egypt Air, Aer Lingus and Finnair are most at risk.

The walk-out is over a "derisory" pay offer by Menzies which is effectively a "real terms pay cut," Travel Mole reported Unite as saying.

“They had every opportunity to make a fair pay offer, but have chosen not to do so,” Unite regional officer Kevin Hall said.

Heathrow Airport said in a statement that it is "in discussions with airline partners on what contingency plans they can implement".

A separate dispute involving Menzies and dnata ground staff was resolved meaning flights taking football fans to the World Cup in Qatar will not be affected.