I’m a journalist, travel writer, editor and copywriter based in Melbourne, Australia. I write pacy travel features, edit edifying websites and fashion flamboyant copy. My articles and photographs have appeared in publications worldwide, from inflight to interior design: I’ve visited every continent, and have lived in three. Want to work together? Drop me a line… 

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The sky’s the limit in Sydney: travel news

NEWS

The
sky’s the limit
Forget
jostling for camera space out a bus window, Australia’s first glass-roof
coaches are now on the road with AAT Kings
launching two new buses. The glass-roofed coaches give a panoramic view of Sydney and the Blue Mountains. The coachline’s
Sydney Day Tours
route also crosses the Sydney Harbour Bridge. AAT Kings has also recently linked up with some of Australia’s most
iconic experiences, from a train journey on the Indian Pacific to a six-day
walk through Tasmania’s Bay of Fires through Great Walks of Australia, as part
of its new Australia brochure. The half-day Bondi Beach & Sydney Sights
tour costs from $59 adults, $30 children. Phone 1300 228 546,
see aatkings.com.

AIRLINE
Take a spa on board
Australia’s spa
culture gets a sky-high promotions boost when Qantas packs ASPAR spa products
in its new Kate Spade and Jack Spade inflight amenity kits. The new kits are
available initially for business-class passengers on A380 services between
Australia, London, Dubai, LA and Dallas, and include an ultra-hydrating face moisturiser and vanilla & orange lip moisturiser to help counteract skin
dehydration while airborne. If you’re not in the air, you can find Aurora Spas
in the Gold Coast’s Palazzo Versace and The Prince hotel in Melbourne and, since
June this year, also in the First Lounges in Sydney and Melbourne. ASPAR
products are paraben and SLS free, and are not tested on animals. See aurorasparetreat.com.au and qantas.com.au.

GEAR
In bed with the
artist
Take Australian artist John Olsen to bed (metaphorically, of course) with these new
pyjamas from his namesake art hotel, The Olsen, in Melbourne’s South Yarra. The
limited-edition, 100 percent cotton pyjamas by Australian designers Masini & Chern are emblazoned
with Olsen’s ‘Jumping Frog’ motif, and are the heroes of a new range of
lifestyle goods by the Art Series hotel group.

Each of the six art hotels will
have its signature products, which you can snap up during your stay, or, on its
new online shop, Artefact, which launches later this month. One thing’s for
sure: there’ll be no blushing if you get caught in a hotel corridor in this
sleepwear. Cost $190 for the set or $80 for the shorts. See artserieshotels.com.au.

KIDS

Building a perfect cruise
Lego just got a whole lot more mobile with new playrooms on
all 12 ships in the MSC Cruises fleet. In a bid to woo cruising families, the
new Lego rooms, aimed at kids up to 12 years, come on board this month. The MSC
Orchestra will be the first of the fleet to arrive in Australia from Dubai on
her maiden voyage on February 21. The Renaissance ships have separate four
separate kids’ clubs, from the Baby class for under-threes up to the Teens, from
15 to 17 years. The Lego upgrades are part of a E200m renovation program across
the entire fleet. Phone 1300 028502, see msccruises.com.au.

GEAR

Modern retro

If you can’t bring yourself to lug around a chunky DSLR,
but are frustrated by the limits of most compact cameras, Fujifilm’s new X100T aims
to bridge the gap. Don’t be fooled by its retro styling, the 16MP camera has a
fixed 35mm-equivalent, f/2 lens that can snap a 3×2-meter jpeg for those
billboard statements and the world’s first electronic rangefinder. It also
shoots RAW files, has a stealth-mode silent shutter, lets you change the
aperture by a third (rather than a full stop), focuses manually or with
high-speed auto-focus and has a large, 3-inch monitor for easy viewing. It can
produce full HD video, has wi-fi and, in an of-the-moment quirk, can apply
filters to achieve that 70s look, for those who think they were born too late. Available
in black or silver and weighing 440g, the X100T is available this month, costs RRP
$1749. See fujifilm.com.au.

FOOD

Worldly food wisdom
Maeve O’Mara shares the wisdom of the world’s kitchens in
her fourth cookbook in the SBS TV Food Safari series, Complete Food Safari:
delicious adventures through 44 cuisines. The book will teach you the tricks of
the perfect Kabuli pulao from Afghanistan to Danish gravat lax or crowd-pleasing
salt and pepper squid, as China sees it.

Each country has an explanation of its
food culture, a fascinating array of home cooks and a breakout of essential
flavours, from humble Clive of India curry powder (thank you, Broome), to
Brazil’s malagueta chillies and Syria’s seven-spice mix, baharat, used in over
400 recipes. Costs $59.95, out now. See hardiegrant.com.au.


Can’t get to Afghanistan? Here’s the next best thing.

Gold hair pendant, 1st century BC – 1st century AD.
Photo:  Thierry Ollivier 

Afghanistan’s been on my wishlist for years, but it seems every time there was the hint of open borders, the country would become a flashpoint for disaster on a global scale.

So I could only imagine the wondrous beauty hidden in the mountainous country until yesterday, when the Melbourne Museum launched its latest exhibition, Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures.

The exhibition has more than 230 priceless artifacts from archaeological sites along the Silk Route. Afghanistan was the crossroads for the trading network, and the riches are decorated in motifs from the ancient world, blurring Indian, Greek, Persian and local mythological creatures and legends into one beautiful culture.

The story goes that a hill of Bactrian gold lay undisturbed for 2000 years, before being discovered in the late ’70s and held by the National Museum in Kabul. The museum was destroyed between 1992 and 1995, and what remained was looted.

Sutara Arian from Channel 31’s
Afghan program, in national dress
at the opening yesterday. 

So it was thought the gold was destroyed or melted down by warlords during the Soviet War or under subsequent Taliban rule, but the exhibition’s curator, archaeologist and National Geographic Fellow Fredrik Hibert – described by ABC’s Jon Faine yesterday as a real, live Indiana Jones – found it preserved by a courageous band of ‘keyholders’.

Hibert led a team into Afghanistan in 2003 and opened the vaults to reveal Afghanistan’s treasures, some of which have found their way to Melbourne.

Gold, turquoise, pyrite and bronze were wrought into diadems, pendants, statuettes and, the showpiece of the exhibition is a collapsible nomadic crown garnished with golden birds and the Tree of Life.

There are also beautiful photographs from Afghanistan today, including scenes from the Hindu Kush, terraced wheat fields of the Kunar River vValley and the ruins of a royal Greek city founded by Alexander the Great’s followers, Aï Khanum.

The exhibition was supposed to have been opened by the Governor-General, but leadership spills (the non-story of the day) stole her away. However, we did spot a tv-crew from Channel 31’s Afghan program, including host Sutara Arian (pictured) in gorgeous traditional dress. You can catch her program at 1.30pm Thursdays.

Collapsible nomadic crown, 1st century BC – 1st century AD.
Photo:  Thierry Ollivier 

Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul


22 March – 28 July 2013
Adults $24, concession $16, children $14, 131 102, Melbourne Museum 


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