26 September 2023

Botswana, Alice Springs and more…

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By John Rozentals.

Maitland: Rapidly emerging as a must-visit destination for foodies.

Maitland is rapidly emerging as a must-visit Hunter Valley destination for foodies, with a wealth of local producers, and a thriving café, restaurant and pub scene.

Slow Food Earth Markets Maitland is one of 60 Earth Markets worldwide and is one the first of its kind in Australia. Purchase freshly picked produce, meet the people who grow the food, be part of the wider community, and support local growers who work hard to keep the food system ‘good, clean and fair for all’. The market operates on the first and third Thursday of each month from 8.30am.

Get hands-on with a range of foodie experiences. Make sourdough with the iconic family of bakers at the Historic Arnott Bakehouse in Morpeth. Learn about sustainable farming practices that can be applied to apartment balconies, backyards or working farms at The Purple Pear Farm.

Sophisticated diners will appreciate Maitland’s blend of talent and regional ingredients, with the likes of refined café, small bar and deli, Coquun; high-quality Italian with a focus on handmade pastas, Fratelli Roma; and Melbourne-style wine bar, cocktail lounge and restaurant, The Rigby.

The craft beer scene culminates at the annual Bitter & Twisted Boutique Beer Festival within the walls of Maitland Gaol each November, but punters won’t go thirsty with the selection of craft beer pubs, including The Pourhouse, The Old Victoria or The Whistler. Try a local brew by the Morpeth Brewery and Beer Co at the Commercial Hotel.

Visit www.mymaitland.com.au or www.visitnsw.com.

Broken Hill Outback Resort: offering deluxe king-size swags.

Broken Hill Outback Resort is now offering 12 deluxe king-size swags so cityslickers can sleep under desert skies away from crowds and the bright lights of urban areas.

Opened in August, 2018, and nestled amongst sand dunes 13 kilometres east of Broken Hill in far-west NSW, Broken Hill Outback Resort also boasts 12 luxury spa studios and a camp and caravan ground grouped around a charming, 130-year-old pub completely restored to offer a bar and restaurant.

The new swags, which are set up before guests arrive, offer a top flyscreen so campers can admire the stars while lying on the thick mattress and provided linen.

A campfire is also set up for guests to gather around each night and roast marshmallows.

The swags are available for $30 per person, or $60 per couple, including use of a headlamp.

Regular campsites are available from $30 a night per site, and the resort offers spa studios, each featuring a king-size bed, kitchenettes and a large, private balcony and jucuzzi overlooking the desert, from $155 a night per couple.

Phone 1300 688 225 or visit www.brokenhilloutbackresort.com.au

Mark Olive: will run Parrtjima’s first VIP dinner and masterclass experiences.

Parrtjima, an Aboriginal light festival, will run April 3-12 in Alice Springs.

It will include its first-ever VIP dinner and masterclass experiences with celebrity chef Mark Olive, who will host two VIP dinners on April 3 and 4, with a menu crafted together with bush supplier Rayleen Brown.

Guests will enjoy traditional and contemporary performances as they sip on premium wines and taste the incredible dishes.

Olive and Brown will also run a masterclass, a once-in-a-lifetime interactive lesson on Australian bushfoods, followed by a delicious feast.

Tickets to the VIP dinners are priced at $250 per person and $150 for the masterclass.

Visit www.parrtjima.com.au.

Propose on the Sydney Opera House stage.

Opera Australia has a new ‘Proposal Package’ that could make all the difference between a resounding YES and a dismissive NO, with a unique opportunity to pop the question on the Sydney Opera House stage.

Taking the daunting task of proposing marriage to an entirely new level, this package puts the couple literally on centre stage and firmly in the spotlight in front of an audience of 1500 during a performance of Great Opera Hits in the Joan Sutherland Theatre.

At an agreed moment during the concert, the MC will invite the couple to the stage, much to the surprise of one of the pair, for the not-so-private but ever-so-special moment they will never forget.

The package is priced at $2499 per couple and includes two premium tickets, complimentary drink on arrival, and a bouquet of flowers presented on stage.

Visit opera.org.au/propose.

Heritage rail motor 621/721: will be Riverina-bound in October.

A four-day heritage train journey to the NSW Riverina this October will allow food and wine lovers to meet the farmers, winemakers, chefs, gardeners and producers who make the region one of Australia’s leading culinary destinations.

The ‘Taste Riverina Food and Wine Adventure’ will showcase the Riverina’s fine wines and abundant produce and also the joys of slow travel aboard a privately chartered heritage train.

The getaway begins in Sydney on October 9, with the heritage rail motor 621/721 taking guests on a leisurely and nostalgic journey to Griffith.

On the way, guests will stop for lunch at the historic and now disused Cootamundra West Railway Station and for afternoon tea at the beautiful, Federation-era Ariah Park Hotel.

The rail motor, built in 1962, features windows that open, allowing passengers to freely connect with the changing scenery. During the trip, guests can also visit the driver’s cab to see how the train operates.

Including accommodation, meals and daily sightseeing, the package is priced from $1990 per person twin-share.

Phone 1300 766 537 or visit www.cruiseexpress.com.au.

Squid Fest: will celebrate all the best bits about this intriguing cephalopod.

Ink your diary for October 23-24 when a new festival celebrating the humble squid jigs into Busselton.

Squid Fest will celebrate all the best bits about this intriguing cephalopod with a program of events themed around water, wind, earth and fire, on and around the Busselton foreshore in Western Australia’s south-west.

Expect squid-fishing competitions, education and clinics, giant-sea-creature kite flying, south-west sea and land food-and-wine sampling and demonstrations featuring cooking over fire, squid kids’ activities and live entertainment.

Visit www.squidfest.com.au.

Eurail: Save of a pass which will get travellers through Germany and 32 other countries in Europe.

International Rail has released its latest Eurail Pass offer with savings of 15 per cent on Eurail Global Passes for first-class travel and 10 per cent discount for bookings in second-class, when purchased by March 31

Eurail Global Passes can be validated up to 11 months from the issue date, which covers travel right through the European 2020 peak summer travel season.

The Eurail Global Flexi Pass allows five or seven days travel over a one month period or 10 or 15 days of travel to use over a two-month period for travel through 33 countries in Europe, including France, Italy, Germany and many more.

Save up to $135 per person on a first-class pass that incorporates 10 days travel over a two-month period, starting from $760 per person.

Phone 1300 387 245 or visit www.internationalrail.com.au.

Somewhere: a private island that sleeps up to 14.

With space to sleep 14 across six ensuite bedrooms, Somewhere offers the ultimate home away from home for the elite, the multi-generational family or the discreet VIP.

There may only be one roof, but this private New Zealand residence offers three private beaches, a swimming pool, helicopter-landing capabilities, a private dock and ultra-luxury accommodation.

Guests can hop on a stand-up-paddleboard or into a kayak to explore their surrounds or simply relax on a private beach with a gin-and-tonic and watch the yachts come and go.

This private island estate offers the best of both worlds — complete privacy afforded by its location, combined with easy road access via a private bridge. Somewhere is a15-minute drive from Kerikeri airport, which is a 50-minute flight from Auckland International Airport.

Visit www.touchofspice.co.nz.

Stanley’s Camp: Spectacular game viewing.

The landlocked African country of Botswana is a regular inclusion on travel experts’ top travel destinations – and not without good reason.

Best known for its rare combination of desert and delta, as well as a vast array of wildlife, over 17 per cent of the country is dedicated to national parks, and in 2014 the Okavango Delta became UNESCO’s 1000th World Heritage Site.

Sanctuary Retreats operates several boutique properties in Botswana, with one of the most intimate being the classic tented Sanctuary Stanley’s Camp.

Set in a private concession in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, the property boasts luxury canvas tents, with each each featuring its own deck with views over the dramatic flood plains, allowing for some spectacular game viewing.

Each one comes with all the five-star fixtures and fittings you would expect from one of the world’s leading boutique safari operators, replete with compact gym boxes filled with yoga equipment, a mini-bar and a coffee station.

Visit www.sanctuaryretreats.com.

Kawagoe: a small town overflowing with historic charm.

Located just 30-minutes north of Tokyo in Saitama Prefecture, you can find Kawagoe – a small town overflowing with historic charm.

Alternatively known as ‘Ko-Edo’, meaning little Edo, times seems to have stopped in the Edo Era for this district (1603-1867) – a time of Samurai.

Kawagoe has many heritage buildings, seasonal activities and traditional shops for visitors to enjoy as a day trip from Tokyo.

Travellers can easily get to Kawagoe on the Tobu Tojo Line in just 30 minutes from Ikebukuro Station in Tokyo.

Beer lovers must try a beer from one of Kawagoe’s world-renowned breweries.

They have a variety of beers that have been recognised globally, including an imperial amber that is rich with a smooth body that is perfectly balanced with earthy hop bitterness and a caramel aroma – a perfect drink to refresh you for your afternoon travels.

Visit www.tobujapantrip.com/en/.

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