Savour the flavour of Australia: Food experiences across Australia

Tasmania’s Red Feather
has been serving patrons since 1842.

Unleash your hunter-gatherer instinct with a do-it-yourself food
adventure in Australia.

So you think you can eat? Oh, much neglected blog, this is what I’ve been up to lately. This story was published by Tourism Australia, who is inviting the world to dinner with its newest campaign, Restaurant Australia

Design a wine in the famed Barossa Valley or
hook a big barramundi on a day’s fishing in the wild, remote north.
There are truffles to hunt in Canberra, mudcrabbing in Queensland,
coffees to pour in Melbourne and once you learn the indigenous
Australians’ secrets of finding bush tucker, you’ll never starve. If
you’re not sure how to put it all together, go with the pros and sign up
to a cooking school, where they’ll teach you the tricks of the trade to
create the perfect Aussie feast, with food and wine matching. Savour
the flavour of Australia.

Wine blending in South Australia

Step into the home of Australia’s most prestigious wine, Penfolds
Grange Shiraz. Think you can match it? Roll up the shirtsleeves and make
your own red wine blend using Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre grapes, a
great souvenir to take home with you. Tours run daily at Penfolds
historic Barossa Valley cellar door in Nuriootpa, one and a half hours’
drive north of Adelaide amidst rolling farmlands and vineyards. While
you’re there, be sure to taste Penfolds’ extensive range, from the famed
Grange to its everyday drinking range of reds and whites.

Barramundi fishing in Western Australia

High on the Western Australian coastline, the Kimberley Coastal Camp
is a tiny cluster of ecologically sustainable bures reached only by
helicopter or boat. Visitors are lured by ancient Aboriginal rock art,
birdwatching and the mighty barramundi – ‘barra’ if you’re talking to a
local. You can fish barra all year round up here, though they’re more
active in the warmer months of April and May, and again in August. The
camp’s experienced fishing guides will kit you out with quality
equipment and teach you the tricks of thinking like a barra to make the
catch.

Truffle Hunting in Australian Capital Territory

Rug up for a wintery morning in an oak forest on the outskirts of
Canberra, and you’ll be rewarded with the jewels of the kitchen:
truffles. Snuffle the truffle dog and owners Sherry and Gavin
McArdle-English will teach you how to hunt and handle French black
truffles that will make their way to market and be served in Australia’s
best restaurants. The hunt ends in the warm truffle shed with a
weight-guessing competition and truffle crème brulee. Truffle hunts run in winter, from June to August.

Mudcrabbing in Queensland

So you love crab? Learn to wrangle them on a two-and-a-half-hour
cruise down the Tweed River, about 10 minutes south of Queensland’s Gold
Coast. The daily tours
let you trap live crabs, hauling crab pots and tieing them up for a
great photo op. You can also hand-feed massive, ever-hungry pelicans and
throw a hopeful fishing line in the river. They’ll supply the gear, you
bring the luck.

Finding bush tucker in the Northern Territory

Go on safari
in one of the world’s great wildernesses to find turtles and snakes,
gather fruits and yams and celebrate with a bush feast around the
campfire. An open safari truck takes you through Kakadu National Park,
three hours’ drive from Darwin in the Northern Territory. Meet Kakadu’s
Aboriginal community, learn about their languages, bush lore and their
“dreamings” and witness birds massing at the Gindjala wetland. You’ll
finish at sunset with a cup of billy tea, hot damper (bread cooked in
the fire’s embers) and the results of your day’s hunting and gathering.

Game fishing in New South Wales

Get your Hemingway on and chase the big fish of the deep blue sea in
the rich waters off the south coast of New South Wales. There’s mighty
marlin to lure as well as yellow fin, albacore and striped tuna. You may
spot some powerful broadbill swordfish and sharks, and while they’re
not for anglers, majestic Humpback whales use this corridor on their
annual journey to and from Antarctica. Keep your eyes open for seals,
sea eagles and penguins, too. Freedom Charters
supply all equipment and you can catch and release, or capture your
haul. Eden’s thrilling game fishing season runs from November till
July.

Making coffee in Victoria

Nobody drinks coffee like Melburnians drink, and its fabulous café
society just keeps evolving. If you love the bean and want to try this
at home, Sensory Lab‘s
45-minute one-on-one barista classes will have you frothing, tamping,
grinding and pouring like a pro. Start as a beginner, learning all the
skills to flatter with your latte, or caress with your capuccino. Take
it to the next level and get serious with milk texturing and making
those pretty little hearts and ferns on the top of the cup or go into
syphoning.

Cooking class in Tasmania

Roll up your sleeves and cook Tasmania’s top produce, much of it
sourced from the markets on the morning of your cooking class. The Red Feather
has been serving patrons since 1842, when it was built as a coaching
inn by convicts sent to “Van Diemen’s Land” from the United Kingdom. The
beautiful sandstone buildings are just south of Launceston, Australia’s
third oldest city. You’ll learn the secrets of perfect baking, smoking
and curing meats and whatever the markets offer that day. And the best
part? You get to eat the fabulous fruits of your labour (with a little
help from a chef, of course).

This story by Belinda Jackson was first published by Tourism Australia, who is inviting the world to dinner. 

To read more about Australia’s fantastic food culture, best restaurants, wineries and producers, visit the brand, spanking new Restaurant Australia website.

From Elysium to Middle Earth: travel deals 20 Jan 2013

The crowd-pleasing silvery gibbon, Indonesia.

Track down the Asian Big 5, find Elysium in the Hunter Valley or hit Middle Earth, in this week’s domestic and international travel deals.

ACT
With the National Portrait Gallery, the National Museum
of Australia and the National Gallery of Australia (currently showing the Toulouse
Lautrec exhibition) all within cooee of each other, it’s easy to see why art
lovers love Canberra. Plan ahead and save when you stay at the Mercure
Canberra. Book 30 days in advance and save up to 30 per cent on your room rate.
Costs from $112 a night, room only. 136 565,
accorhotels.com
.
SOUTH
AUSTRALIA
Need a break after the rush and bustle of Christmas? Head
to the serenity of the Barossa Valley, an hour’s drive north of Adelaide.  The Novotel Barossa Valley costs from $239 a
night; fly return with Virgin Australia to Adelaide and stay two nights until
March 31. Costs from $429 a person, twin share, ex-Sydney. 1300 130 485, travel.com.au.
QUEENSLAND
Stay five nights, pay four at Daydream Island Resort
& Spa and get full buffet breakfast daily and free use of watersports
equipment and open-air cinema. Two children under 14 also get to stay and eat
breakfast free for stays January 28-March 31. Costs from $598 a person, twin
share, four nights. 1800 075 040,
daydreamisland.com.
Elysia, Hunter Valley NSW
NSW
The Hunter Valley’s Golden Door health retreat, Elysia,
is running a ‘bring a friend for half-price’ deal over summer. Packages include
beautiful spa cuisine, snacks, an initial assessment as well as wellness
seminars, exercise equipment and classes including meditation and early morning
tai chi. Book before January 31 for stays until February 14 and save $525. Costs
from $1575, two people for two days. 
1800 212 011, goldendoor.com.au/health-retreats/elysia.
VICTORIA
Forget heatwaves, it’s time to
plan your snow play, and happening Hotham has launched its early-bird specials.
Stay five nights in a ski-in/ski-out one-bedroom White Crystal apartment, in
the middle of the village, and save $251 when booked by January 31. Costs from
$
2102 for five nights during the value
season,
June 7 -27, July 22–August 1, August 26-29 September. Costs
from $2256 for five nights during peak season (June 28 – July 21 and August 2 –
25). 1800 468 426, hotham.com.au.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Eagle Lodge, Faraway Bay
Far up on the remote Kimberley coastline sits the aptly named
Faraway Bay, a tiny resort amidst the wonders of pristine waterfalls, sublime
waterways and ancient Aboriginal art. Book before January 31 and save 10 per
cent off the regular rate, and they’ll also include a free night at the
Pinctada Kimberley Grande Resort, Kununurra before you fly out to the remote property.
 Rates include guided activities,
unlimited boat charters to hook the big one, and all meals and most drinks. Costs
from $3330 for two nights. 0419 918 953, farawaybay.com.au.
NEW ZEALAND
Just 3½ hours from Sydney, Wellington (aka Wellywood to Middle-earth devotees) is ramping up the deals.
Book a ‘Spring into Summer’ deal at the five-star Bolton Hotel and get buffet
breakfast and an antipasti tasting plate for two, as well as late check-out. Normally
from $382 a night, stay before January 27 and pay from $151 for two people.
Stay January 28-April 1, costs from $238 a night, weekends only. 1300
887 979, wotif.com/hotelW12421.
UK
Traverse Britain on its railways, including the most
scenic routes – from Inverness to Kyle
of Lochalsh in Scotland, Llandudno to Blaenau Ffestiniog in Wales Exeter to
Penzance, in the West Country – and buy your freedom to hop on and hop off at
will. Buy a selected BritRail pass before February 14 for travel until February
28 and save 20 per cent. Costs from $170 for a three-day, second-class
Britrail Consecutive Pass. 1300 387 245, internationalrail.com.au.
THAILAND
Head for the hills in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand and
stay three nights for the price of two in the tranquil Tamarind Village, until
March 31. With just 45 rooms and suites, the hotel is decorated by the region’s
rich tribal weavings and patterns. It also offers a 10 per cent discount on
stays booked more than 30 days in advance, until October 31. Costs from $300
for three nights, includes buffet breakfast. (02) 9211 6590, tamarindvillage.com.
Notre Dame cathedral, Paris.
EUROPE
Get the passport out for some serious stamping when you
cover 15 European countries in 30 days on Topdeck’s popular Discover Europe
trip. All the icons are there: baguettes at the Eiffel Tower, wine tasting in
Bordeaux, gondolas in Venice and bicycles in Amsterdam. Save 7.5 per cent on
summer trips when booked and paid for by February 28. Costs from $5411 a
person.  1300 886 332, topdeck.travel.
INDIA
Get your Bollywood on where it all began, in Mumbai,
where you’ll enjoy two free nights at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel when you book
a 14-day Splendours of Rajasthan journey. Highlights include the Pink City of
Jaipur, Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh Fort and a stay in a traditional tented camp with
evening birding walks. Save up to $1045 a person and get two nights free, when
travelling until April 15. Costs from $7410 a person, twin share. 1300 851 800,
abercrombiekent.com.au
 
TOURWATCH

If you haven’t heard of the Asian Big 5, this is the trip
for you. Join Wildlife Asia board member Clare Campbell (pictured) travelling through
Indonesia, from Jakarta to east Borneo and Sumatra, to see and save five endangered
species. Bornean orang-utans, Sumatran rhinos, Asian elephants, Sun bears and
the crowdpleasing Silvery gibbons all are under threat from disappearing
habitats and poaching. 
The group of up to 12 will travel on traditional river
boats (klotoks) and trek through
rainforests, staying in jungle lodges and on boats to view the wildlife and
visit animal rescue centres and the Dayak villages of Borneo. Departs 10-18
March, 2013. Costs $3100 a person plus $1000 secured fundraising. Excludes
international airfares, 0499 773 303, wildlifeasia.org.au.

Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun Herald

Getting out there with your fantasies: travel deals 13 January 2013

The Gordon River, Tasmania.

Live out your Man or Woman from Snowy River fantasy or check into the Wildman Wilderness Lodge – it’s time to get out there. 


VICTORIA
Head for the hills to live out your Man or Woman from Snowy River fantasy at the Grand Mercure Pinnacle Valley resort in the Victorian Alps, half an hour from Mount Buller. Nearby activities include fly-fishing, bushwalking, golf and, of course, horse riding. A two-night tree change usually costs from $160 a night, stay until April 30. Quote the code “summer special” and get a free bottle of wine in the room. Costs from $288 for two nights. (03) 5777 5788, accorhotels.com.

NSW
Blow the city smog away with a quick getaway on the central coast. Stay at the four-star Crowne Plaza Terrigal, pictured above, by the seaside, just an hour from Sydney, and save 10 per cent and get breakfast as well. Valid on two-night stays from Sunday to Thursday in a queen or king room. Book until January 31, stay until February 28. Costs from $406, two nights. 1300 888 180, zuji.com.au.

TASMANIA
Tassie celebrates 30 years since the creation of its South West Wilderness World Heritage Area and is offering you the chance to see what the fuss is about. The Ultimate Wilderness Experience package includes two nights at Strahan Village, a cruise up the Gordon River aboard luxury catamaran Lady Jane Franklin II, main picture, a trip on the West Coast Wilderness Railway and buffet dinner at View 42° Restaurant and Bar. Save $131 on stays until April 30. Costs $880 for two people. 1800 420 155, puretasmania.com.au.

QUEENSLAND
It takes just 2½ hours to hit the glorious Whitsunday Islands from Sydney, so why are we here? Stay five nights, pay for just four at the adults-only beachfront Beach Club on Hamilton Island between January 28 and March 28. Includes a full breakfast buffet daily, VIP airport transfers and free watersports such as snorkelling and cat sailing. Costs from $2280 for five nights. 13 73 33,hamiltonisland.com.au.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA
You could take a lifetime to explore the remote north Australian coastline, but 22 days is a good start with this Treasures of the West Coast tour, which spends two nights at the luxury Wildman Wilderness Lodge near Kakadu, a cruise through Chamberlain Gorge in El Questro and the spectacular Katherine Gorge, and feeding dolphins at Monkey Mia. Book by March 31 and Scenic Tours will include free flights to Darwin from the other capitals, for six departures from June. Costs from $9495 a person, twin share. 1300 723 642, scenictours.com.

Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun Herald