The five places that made me: Ray Martin

I love the fact that top Australian current affairs journalist Ray Martin was scared, lost and happy in Istanbul – after all, isn’t that true culture shock? He name the Turkish capital in a list of his top five places that made me, for Traveller.

“I was culturally and physically out of my comfort zone and I loved it,
from the incessant bargaining and arm-twisting of the Grand Bazaar to
the Muslim mystique of the Blue Mosque, down the grimy side alleyways
and into smokey coffee shops,” he says.

To read more about his top five places, which range from Launceston, Tasmania to New York City, click here for the article, which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers’ Traveller section.

In the raw in Phuket, Tiger trims down, checking out the Flying Doctors: Takeoff travel news

FOOD
In the raw on Phuket
The luxury Sri Panwa hotel on Phuket’s southern coastline
has opened its newest dining option, an authentic Japanese restaurant called Baba
IKI. Order from the sake cocktail list and get up close and personal at the
sushi bar with head Chef Haru, who trained under Iron Chef Boontum Pakpo. Top
picks include the toro sashimi (premium tuna belly) and sake
sashimi (Norwegian salmon). Seating 60 people, Baba IKI has expansive views
over the Andaman Sea. This is the fourth restaurant at the hotel on Cape Panwa including
Baba Soul Food, which serves traditional southern Thai cuisine such as as Hell
Chicken and crab and coconut curry.  The
hotel has been named Thailand’s best resort and its Baba Nest rooftop bar one
of the world’s best beach bars. A night in the pool suite ocean view costs from $800. See sripanwa.com.

AIRLINE
Tiger trims
carry-on kilos
Low-cost airline TigerAir is dropping its free carry-on luggage
limits to 7kg a person on flights booked from March 17 for travel from April
17. Currently, passengers are allowed to bring two pieces of cabin luggage
weighing up to 10kg in total. The airline said the move will help prevent
over-filled overhead lockers and save time both on the plane and at check-in.
Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Rex Airlines have 7kg carry-on limits on their economy
domestic routes, while Qantas allows two bags of 7kg, totalling 14kg. TigerAir
passengers can buy an additional 5kg of carry-on luggage, bringing the total to
12kg, with its new Cabin+ product, which costs from $18 in advance or from $36
at check-in. See tigerair.com.

KIDS
Backyard explorers
Teach the kids a love of the great outdoors, stylishly, with
a night under canvas in the new Joey tent. Created by outdoor goods
manufacturer Homecamp, the sturdy Joey is made
from canvas, has a waterproof floor and is fire and mould resistant. Pitching
at just under a meter high and 1.4m wide, it fits in the backyard or pitch it beside
the family tent for a kids-only zone on holidays. The Joey weighs 8kg and will
sleep three little ones. So all you have to worry about now is dead torch
batteries and marshmallow overdoses. Costs $325. See homecamp.com.au. 
BOOK
Gallipoli No. 1 destination

Travellers wanting to visit the battle sites of
Gallipoli, Turkey, are being advised to avoid not only ANZAC Day, on April 25,
but also weekends until mid-June. Lonely Planet named the Gallipoli Peninsula
the world’s number one travel destination for 2015, and its new Turkey guide
advises that massive crowds are expected to visit the Gallipoli Peninsula
Historical National Park this year, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the
Gallipoli landing. Author James Bainbridge adds that weekends in September are
another peak time, when vacationing Turks visit the region. Lonely Planet
Turkey (14th Edition), $39.99.See lonelyplanet.com.


NEWS
Check-up at the Flying Doctor
The Royal Flying Doctor Service in Broken Hill has opened
a new GP clinic beside its visitor centre, where travellers heading into
central Australia can seek medical advice and ensure they’re in fine form for
the road. The RFDS has visitor centres at Broken Hill, Longreach, Alice
Springs, Kalgoorlie and Dubbo, as well as Charleville, which also as a GP
clinic. Last year, its 63 aircraft flew more than 26 million kilometres caring
for 282,000 people, and says about a quarter of its emergency medical evacuations
are road warriors driving in the outback. Broken Hill is 935km from Sydney and
725km from Melbourne, and the last medical service until Alice Springs, so plug
the new Clive Bishop Medical Centre into your GPS: it’s at the RFDS Base on
Airport Rd, next to Broken Hill Airport, open 9am to 5pm, Monday-Friday. The
Bruce Langford Visitor Centre lets you go behind the scenes and into the RFDS
airport hangar, open seven days. For medical appointments, call (08) 8080 3780.
To donate to the not-for-profit service, see flyingdoctor.org.au.
GEAR
Indigenous inspiration
Wear your country with pride with this fashion range
designed by indigenous artists. The Community Unity lifestyle bag is painted by
artist Robert Levi and measures 45×36.5cm. It’s made from polyester drill by indigenous
clothing brand Bundarra which designs, cuts and sews all its garments
here in Australia. Levi, who is from Thursday Island in the Torres Strait, says
the bag’s design shows hope for indigenous unification. It’s one of several designs across Bundarra’s range, which includes fashion leggings and its new
singlets. Bags cost $39.95. See bundarra.org.



This weekly column by Belinda Jackson is published in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newpaper’s Traveller section.

Summer reading: a not-very-definitive list

My first (and last) English Christmas was a shock to many senses: there was snow (albeit very light, very dirty), there were Brussels sprouts (surely only the English consider them a celebratory food) and there was television.

As our Australian marketing machines constantly tell us, our Christmases are all about the beach, cricket and low-level sunburn. So to be huddled in front of the telly watching soap omnibuses seemed a curious way to spend the festive season.

It’s not quite television, and the weather here in Melbourne has been exemplary this year: not too hot, not too cold, but I’ve come over all Northern hemisphere and am catching up on a small mountain of unread fiction, with a travel bent, of course.

Here’s a little list of recent releases from Australian authors that have made a welcome appearance on the bedside table.

The most recent of the list is by prolific South Australian author Fiona McIntosh, who I have long admired for her adult fantasy series (think Lord of the Rings fantasy, not the other type, smutsters). She has turned out a fast-paced romance set in WWI Cairo, Gallipoli and post-war London. Nightingale ticks all the boxes, with handsome men, golden women and love found and lost in traumatic times. Does the girl get her man? It’s over to you… (Penguin Books, $29.99)

Action seekers know Matthew Reilly is the man to turn to when you want to be left breathless from reading (to give you a suggestion of his pace, the Sydney writer drives DeLorean DMC-12 – the car from Back to the Future). His latest book, The Great Zoo of China is, as the title indicates, set in China and has an absolute cracker of a premise, which I just can’t tell you about. His heroine, CJ Cameron, is a tad too tough, tenacious and intelligent for wimpy me to relate to, but I could not put this book down. That was a week of lost sleep (Pan Macmillan, $39.99)

And finally (not in the picture, as it’s already been nabbed by my mum), Stateless is the second in the Heritage trilogy about the evolution of the State of Israel. Written by Alan Gold and Mike Jones, it caused a ruckus in our house with the highly controversial throw-away line that the Egyptian army is known to be cowardly. Eeep! Otherwise, Stateless races along with plenty of secret plots and dastardly tyrants from Roman-occupied Jerusalem to post-WWII Russia. The first in the trilogy is called Bloodline, I’ll be seeking it out. (Simon & Schuster Australia, $29.99)

The next on the list is Tony Park‘s The Hunter (‘A missing woman, a serial killer at large… man is the most dangerous predator of all’). I’m not that into murder as entertainment, but this book moves from South Africa to Zimbabwe and the Masai Mara game reserve in Kenya, which I love. And in the appendices, Park also shares travel tips from his extensive experience of travelling in Africa (Pan Macmillan, $29.99)

I hope you’re all enjoying a great summer read, or if you’re further north and not nose-in-book, the plotlines in the soaps have improved.

See you all in 2015!

Belle

Traveller: Takeoff travel news July 27, 2014

Budapest
AIRLINES:Budapest bound
In the aviation world, you’re nobody if you don’t have an
Airbus or 50. The Dubai-based Emirates airline has just received its 50th A380,
cementing its position as the world’s largest international airline. New destinations
connected by A380s include Kuwait and Mumbai this month, with Frankfurt,
Dallas, San Francisco and Houston coming online in the next five months. The
airline expects its cache of A380s to increase to 90 by late 2017. Emirates is
also adding three new European destinations to its network –Oslo and Brussels
in September and Budapest on October 27. 1300 303 777, emirates.com/au.

KIDS:Trump the parents
If your children are full of bright ideas, hook them up
with Donald Trump. No, really. The five-star Trump SoHo New York’s Young
Entrepreneurs program is open to hotel guests from 3 to 17 years as well as Manhattan
neighbourhood kids. Previous events including Children’s Museum of the Arts
film screenings, business and cooking classes as well as downtime in the spa
(for those busy kids, not you).  They’ll
also get business cards, free meals and a quarterly newsletter about NYC
family-friendly events. Kids get a monogrammed robe, candy buffets and
cocktails, local maps from a pint-sized point of view and free rollaway beds. A
new partnership with phil&teds lets you use their strollers and baby
backpacks during your stay. The NYC Family Getaway package costs from $687 a
night. +See trumpsohohotel.com/kids.  
FOOD: River courses
You won’t find 2009 Masterchef winner Julie Goodwin
hiding in the ship’s galley when she stars on her third Murray River celebrity
cook cruise. The PS Murray Princess paddlewheeler cruises the river while Julie
conducts three cooking demonstrations and hosts a three-course dinner for 120
guests on the four-night cruise between Mannum and Blanchardstown, SA. The
stately paddlewheeler journeys past redgum forests and limestone cliffs and
also pulls in to historic ports, a sheep station, a vineyard and a cellar door.
Departs March 9, 2015, but book early, she’s a lady in demand. Costs from $1229
a person, twin share. (02) 9206 1111, captaincook.com.au.
Mandarin Oriental Bodrum, Turkey
HOTEL: Turkish delight
The new Mandarin Oriental has thrown opened its
doors on Turkey’s south-eastern coastline, 30 minutes from beautiful Bodrum on
the Turkish Riviera. Each of the hotel rooms – the creation of Italian design powerhouse Antonio
Citterio -looks out over the Aegean, with terraces
and decks primed for sun soaking. The suites have plunge pools and
outdoor showers. Set on the waterfront on Cennet
Koyu (Paradise Bay), the hotel has 109 rooms and suites with a spa and
10 restaurants and bars. The Discover Paradise Bay opening offer
costs from $2587 for three nights,
and includes $215 credit to spend in the spa or restaurants, available until
December 31. Phone 1800 123 693, see mandarinoriental.com.
GEAR:Bag it

The Toby iMail laptop
bag.
Be prepared to suffer bag envy when you spot the Jackson
Casual Messenger slung over a hardened traveller’s shoulder some time soon. The
new range from Australian design company Zoomlite will be released in late
August, with the Jackson coming in olive, khaki or navy. The heavy-duty washed
canvas bag (25x32cm) features a vintage leather trim with a cross-body strap, leaving
your hands free for adventure. Keep an eye out also for the Toby iMail laptop
bag, for those who don’t need to shriek geek. The vintage-leather bag comes in
camel or deep brown and its padded section lets you truck a 13-inch laptop with
discretion (29x35cm).  Jackson Casual
Messenger, $69.95. Toby iMail, $229.95. zoomlite.com.au.
Designer Kash O’Hara
FASHION: Super styler
Get under the skin of chic Hong Kong and its
mainland cousin, Shenzhen, with Sydney fashion stylist and designer Kash O’Hara.
Kash will do a style analysis and help write your shopping list beforehand. She’ll even help you
design pieces that are then tailored in Shenzen. But it’s not all hard
shopping. The tour includes high tea at The Peninsula hotel, a swish dinner and
guided tours. “It’s partly a holiday, 
partly a shopping trip,” says Kash. From $3630 a
person, twin share. Includes international flights, four nights’ accommodation
in Hong Kong and one night in Shenzen. Departs October 1. Phone 0411 166 623,
see oharadesigns.com.
FAMILY: Self-catering in
Phuket

Face painting, Teen Idol and mini discos need to be balanced with
adult playrooms – and the swim-up bar and massage pods at Phuket’s two
Sunwing resorts, Kamala Beach and Bangtao, do the trick. Sunwing’s
Happy Baby Studios are designed for families with babies: the
ground-floor rooms have enclosed terraces and locking gates and all the
accoutrements, from pots to cots, baby recliners and unsmashable
crockery and cutlery. Happy Baby Studios cost from $138 a night,
off-peak (until October 31). sunwingphuket.com.

This weekly travel news column, Takeoff, is published in Sydney’s Sun-Herald‘s Traveller section each week. Visit smh.com.au/travel 

Travel deals: New Zealand

Matakauri Lodge, New Zealand
GO NOW

NEW ZEALAND
Live well at the prestigious Matakauri Lodge, near
Queenstown, and get the third night free on stays until July 31. Get
cosy in a deluxe suite, with gourmet dinner and all lodge facilities,
not to mention the views. From $1895 a person, three nights, twin share.
matakaurilodge.com.


WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Stay three nights, pay for two at the dictionary definition
of “glamping”, Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef’s beachside eco-tents. Save $750 a
person on stays July 20-31, when the whale sharks are in town. Includes
meals and wilderness trips. From $1500 a person, twin share. 1300 790
561, wildbushluxury.com.

Trilogy Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia

GO SOON
QUEENSLAND
Stay three nights, pay for two, saving $255 at the four-star
Trilogy Surfers Paradise. Deposit only $5 and pay the balance 28 days
before check-in. Stays in a self-catering, one-bed apartment cost from
$510, three nights, until October 19. 1800 359 769, lowcostholidays.com.au.
USA
Go after-hours into MOMA, backstage on Broadway or see the
Yankees on a six-night custom tour of New York. Book by June 30, get a
$215 voucher at 5th Avenue’s Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa. Departs May
22 and August 28, 2015. From $4320 a person. (03) 9029 1193, see insiderexperience.com.

GO LATER
FINLAND
Save 5 per cent on 20 winter small-group journeys, including
the five-day family tour of Finnish Lapland to meet Santa, take a
reindeer sleigh ride and go ice-fishing. Book by June 30, travel
December 23. Save $160, from $3197 a person, quote BRTWEB5%. 1300 100
410, backroadstouring.com.au.
TASMANIA
Take a luxe three-day walk on historic Maria Island and save
$100 when you book and pay by June 30, for travel until April 2015.
Expect your bags to be carried, tents erected and wine poured for you.
Low season (September 20-October 30) from $999 a person. (02) 9913 8939,
lifesanadventure.com.au.

TALKING TURKEY
Feed your stomach and your soul on a gastronomic and
historic cruise through Turkey. Group size ranges from eight to 18
sailing a wooden gulet along the Carian coast visiting ancient sites,
foraging for wild food and hitting the markets. Learn to cook Turkish
in a family home and eat in traditional restaurants. Departs September
20, 2014 and May 23, 2015. From $3875 a person. petersommer.com.

KIDS
GO WILD IN MELBOURNE
Take the kids to see the wildlife in Melbourne this winter.
Ibis Melbourne has family-friendly deals for DreamWorks Animation: The
Exhibition in Federation Square and the Melbourne Zoo. The DreamWorks
offer includes accommodation, breakfast and two adult tickets to the
exhibition (kids 4-15 years, $10). From $183 a night, until October 5;
1300 656 565, accorhotels.com/melbexhibition.
The zoo offer includes accommodation, breakfast and two adult tickets
to the zoo. From $129 a night, until September 25; phone (03) 9666 0066,
see ibis.com.

This travel deals column by Belinda Jackson is published in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper every Sunday.  

Get going: a new Shangri-La

Sule Shangri-La, Yangon, Myanmar

To all ends of the world, from  Chilean Patagonia to the new frontier of
Myanmar, in this week’s Sun-Herald travel deals. Closer to home, eat and sleep all
things Manfredi on the NSW Central Coast or snap up the Novotel St
Kilda’s six-bottle special. Enjoy!

GO NOW
MYANMAR
Stay two nights at the newly rebranded Sule Shangri-La,
Yangon, and get $40 hotel credit and a one-way airport transfer until
July 31. The former Traders Hotel is in walking distance of the
2000-year-old Sule Pagoda. “Celebration packages” from $265 a night,
deluxe room. shangri-la.com.

NEW SOUTH WALES
Bushwalk, read, eat at hatted restaurants: stay three nights
and pay for just two on an escape to the Central Coast at Bells at
Killcare. Includes a Manfredi continental breakfast until June 30. From
$700 for the king spa suite for three nights. (02) 4349 7000, bellsatkillcare.com.au.

Novotel St Kilda

GO SOONER
VICTORIA
The Novotel St Kilda’s famous “wine and wind down” deal is
back: book a standard non-bayview room from $209 a night and get six
bottles of wine worth $200. Includes car parking and breakfast. Until
December 30, quote “wine and wind down”. (03) 9525 5522, novotelstkilda.com.au.

SINGAPORE
Transit passengers on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir passing
through Singapore’s Changi Airport can get $34 of vouchers to spend in
the airport’s shops, or to use the Ambassador Transit Lounges in
Terminals 2 and 3 for up to six hours. The offer is available until
September 30. See singaporeair.com.

GO LATER
CHILE
Book eight nights in two of Abercrombie & Kent’s Chilean
lodges on Easter Island, in Patagonia and in the Atacama desert, and get
two free nights in Santiago’s Lastarria Boutique Hotel, worth $1140 a
couple, until October 31. From $6484 a person, twin share. 1300 590 317,
abercrombiekent.com.au.

Patagonia’s Explora Lodge

WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Catch a “last seat superdeal” in the Kimberley and save on
15-day trips from June to September. Save $500 on the 15-day 4WD
Kimberley Complete tour, $8295 a person twin share including a
helicopter ride over Mitchell Falls and cattle station tour. Book by May
31. 1300 196 420, aptouring.com.au.

Tourwatch

ANZAC CENTENARY
Missed out on tickets to the 2015 Gallipoli centenary
commemoration? Tempo Holidays’ two tours let you watch it on large
screens from a ferry offshore. The tour starts in Istanbul and takes in
the ruins of Troy and Anzac Cove, Lone Pine Australian Memorial and
Chunuk-Bair New Zealand Memorial accompanied by military historians.
Departs from Istanbul on April 19, 2015 (eight days) and April 22, 2015
(nine days), from $3700 a person, twin share. 1300 558 987, tempoholidays.com.

CYCLE OF LIFE CAMBODIA & VIETNAM
Combine cycling, culture and kids in a new mountain bike
adventure from Angkor to Saigon. The seven-day trip covers an almost
flat 275 kilometres, departing Siem Reap monthly from July 19. The
journey includes a boat cruise down the Mekong River, visit to Can
Tho’s floating markets and the support van carries your gear and weary
travellers. Best for bike-riding kids from 10 years, with tag-alongs
and bike seats available. Costs $1930 for adults, $1544 for kids under
12, (03) 9016 3172, grasshopperadventures.com


This travel deals column by Belinda Jackson is published in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper every Sunday.

Go underground, go outback, go AWOL: travel deals 19 January 2014

Hanging around at Kamalaya,
Koh Samui, Thailand

Take a Thai spa, check into a cave hotel, rail across Australia or get the kids’ skates on with new Skoot luggage.

Go now: Turkey
Explore Istanbul’s palaces, the limestone terraces of
Pamukkale and sleep in a Cappadocian cave hotel on a 10-day Turkish Delights
tour. Book by February 28 for travel until March and save $100. From $970 a
person, twin share. 131 398, travelscene.net.au.
Go sooner:
Thailand
Get a post-Christmas detox and save 20 percent at
Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary & Holistic Spa, on Koh Samui. Stay five nights,
pay for four, with free yoga, tai chi, qi gong, pilates and a body analysis
included, from March 1-April 30. From $955 a person, five nights.  +66 77 429 800, kamalaya.com.
Go later:
Trans-Australia
Save 20 percent on 10 holiday packages on The Ghan train
journey from Adelaide to Darwin, including the Rock & Rail tour, which adds
in two nights and tours in Alice Springs. Book by February 28, travel May 1-October
31. From $1741 a person, twin share. 1800 725 993, greatsouthernrail.com.au.
KIDS
Scoot cute
Cute kids’ luggage abounds, but is it useful? The Skoot
is a 13-litre suitcase, a boredom buster and a mode of transport in busy
airports. 
The shoulder strap allows parents to sling the scooter over their
shoulder and it doubles as a pull cord to rein in recalitrant cruisers. The
ride-on hard case also fits most cabin luggage requirements. Suitable for kids
from 3-6 years. $79.95, (03) 9824 6770,  littlegulliver.com.au.

This feature by Belinda Jackson was published in the Sun-Herald newspaper.

The new world order: Myanmar and Sri Lanka our must-do destinations

Stilt fishermen in Sri Lanka. Photo: Alamy
Myanmar and Sri Lanka top the list of must-do destinations,
industry experts agree. 
CHRIS ZEIHER
Lonely Planet
My pick for 2014 is Riga, the art nouveau jewel of the
Baltics. The Latvian capital is a twin to Prague, minus the fleets of tour
buses and crowds, and is the 2014 European Capital of Culture.Next year is all
about indulgence for me: I’ll be travelling to stunning Waiheke Island off
Auckland to celebrate my birthday.
DAVE BOYTE
Skyscanner.net
Brazil will be in the limelight, thanks to the football World
Cup. We’ve seen increased interest in Myanmar and Cambodia and Sri Lanka is a
rising star: visit the fort town of Galle. Mount Kinabalu (4095 metres) is the
highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea: let’s see if I am up for
it.
SUJATA RAMAN AND GEOFFREY KENT
Abercrombie & Kent
Sri Lanka is still remarkably unspoiled, with ancient cities,
tea plantations and hill stations vying for attention alongside amazing
wildlife, temples and golden beaches, while Myanmar is a truly spiritual
destination. In 2014, you will be able to travel along the Ayeyarwady River on
the boutique river cruiser, Sanctuary Ananda, through stunning landscapes.
JAMES THORNTON
Intrepid Travel Group
Myanmar is Asia’s hottest new destination: get even further
off the beaten track and set sail around the 800 islands of the blissful Myeik
Archipelago. Sri Lanka is rising in popularity, and with all eyes on South
America for the World Cup, my tip is to escape the crowds in Colombia.
Outdoor dining in Istanbul. Photo: Getty Images
SALLY GODFREY
Homeaway Holiday Rentals
Internationally, Dubai, Istanbul, Phuket, Kyoto and Tel Aviv
are receiving strong booking inquiries for 2014, while domestic mainstays are
Gold Coast, Byron Bay and Sydney. Rising stars include Seminyak, Boracay and
Goa and the holiday rental market is becoming more popular in South-East Asia.
I will be hitting the slopes of Queenstown, sunning on a Bali beach and catching
some weekend respite on Phillip Island.
ROWENA FITZGERALD
Mr and Mrs Smith
Lanterns in Kyoto. Photo: Getty Images
People are looking for accommodation that offers an authentic
connection to the destination, such as smaller, locally owned boutique hotels
like Brody House in Budapest or Claska in Tokyo. We’re seeing a surge in
interest in Japan, prompted by its distinctive pop culture and increased
flights. I’m going to Costa Rica and Belize for their beautiful beaches,
incredible diving, and unspoilt rainforest. I hope to stay at six-suite hotel Kura.
RICHARD MOLE
Byroads Tours
Sri Lanka is safe, easy to get to and great value, has an
excellent range of accommodation and offers both beaches and culture. In many
respects, it’s the new Bali. Myanmar is another one on my list. It still lacks
beds, so prices are unreasonably high, but it’s seen as Asia’s last frontier.
Cuba is in the same category – go before it changes forever! My left-field
prediction is Iran. The new government is clearly trying to build bridges with
the West.
THE LEGGY LOVELIES
Luxecityguides.com
Why sprint madly through an overcrowded airport when you can
transfer leisurely and luxuriously via riverboat? We like Heritage Line’s
(heritage-line.com) vintage-inspired fleet for South-East Asian jaunts. For gastro-travel, Copenhagen, Lima, Bangkok and Tokyo are
emerging as envelope-pushing culinary destinations. Pack your elastic-waist slacks! There’s very good bang for
your buck. Quaint boutique hotels and delicious street foods keep it cheap,
cheery and culture-savvy. South America is booming but we also intend to escape the
crowds in Mongolia and Myanmar.
 

The delights of Noma in Copenhagen. Photo: NY Times
SIMON McGRATH
Accor Hotels
After slowing in 2012-13, Bali is becoming popular again for
Australians. Our top picks are Sydney for its great 2014 events line-up,
Tropical North Queensland for beach and adventure travel and Adelaide, just
named in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2014 roundup, with a focus on culture
and the arts. With an increase in low-cost airlines flying into Adelaide and
Cairns, accessibility has never been easier. I’m heading to Terrigal, NSW,
close to home, for a great Australian beach holiday.

Compiled by Belinda Jackson for the Sydney Morning Herald/The Age newspapers

We will remember them: Anzac Day tourism

Momentous: 2015 will be the 100th anniversary of the Anzac
landing at Gallipolli. Photo: Reuters
Anzac Day tours remain
strong, but many people are saving for Gallipoli’s 100th anniversary,
writes Belinda Jackson.
Commemorating Australia’s war dead at Gallipoli’s Dawn
Service on Anzac Day is now an established travel experience, and tour
operators say the numbers are growing each year.
However, specialist battlefield tour operators say
bookings for 2013 and 2014 are weaker as travellers save their money for 2015,
the 100th anniversary of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli.
In anticipation of the high demand expected in 2015, the
Australian and New Zealand governments have capped the number of attendees permitted
at the dawn service at Gallipoli. There will be only 8000 tickets available to Australians,
to be chosen by ballot drawn early next year, the Department of Veterans
Affairs says.
In comparison, it’s expected about 6000 Australians will
attend Dawn Service in Gallipoli next week.
Veterans’ Affairs minister Warren Snowdon is warning tour
operators not to promise seats at the 2015 commemorative services. While the
details are yet to be announced, tour operators will not be able to apply for a
ticket on a traveller’s behalf.
John Waller of Boronia Battlefield Tours (boroniabattlefieldtours.com.au),
which runs tours for the Australian War Memorial, says interest in 2015 is still
very high, despite the uncertainty. “Some people are booking their seats
already on the hope they’re successful in the ballot, but many are holding off,”
he says.
Both specialist and mainstream tour operators agree the
popularity of Anzac Day tours continues to rise, but while Gallipoli is still
the star destination, it’s not all quiet on the Western Front. British-based
Back Roads Touring, which caters for the over-50 market, says the European
battlefields are popular with older travellers wanting to trace the whereabouts
of family members who fell on the battlefields of the Somme, and London-based
Aussies. The main site, the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux,
is 140km north of Paris.
“It’s an easy trip on the Eurostar out of London when
compared with the longer haul to Turkey,” agrees Ben Ittensohn of Top Deck bus
tours, which cater for 18 to 39 year olds. Top Deck added a Western Front tour
two years ago as it was “struggling to cope with the sheer volume” on its
Gallipoli tours, while Trafalgar this year launched a new 12-day tour through
the battlefields of the UK, France and Netherlands (trafalgar.com).
“Attendees are hovering around 4,000 at
Villers-Bretonneaux,” says Peter Norton of Western Front Tours
(westernfronttours.com.au), figures that are expected to rise as the Somme
commemorates its own centenary in 2016.
Battlefield historian Mat McLachlan of Mat McLachlan
Battlefield Tours (battlefields.com.au) agrees. He says those wanting to avoid
the crowds head to the Menin Gate in Ieper (Ypres), Belgium, where there is a
smaller Anzac Day service. Villers-Bretonneux town and the nearby village of
Bullecourt will also conduct ceremonies later in the day.
“There are also services in other places where
Australians have served, including Vietnam, Korea and El Alamein in Egypt,”
adds Mat.
The Australian government also conducts a ceremony at
Hellfire Pass, Thailand, commemorating the prisoners of war who worked on the
Thailand-Burma Railway in the Second World War. Services have been held in the
past at Sandakan, Malaysia, although
political unrest in the region means there will be no government service in
2013.