Sunday, May 30, 2010

Special Thai pizza delivery

On Friday Thai Airways International celebrated its 50th birthday by inviting a group of travel writers and public relations managers ( all members of the Australian Society of Travel Writers) . What a day. It was held at Hugos Bar Pizza in Kings Cross, Sydney. Hugos is owned by celebrity chef Peter Evans and he was there with his mate 'Paulie' from the SBS Pizza show ( bad, bad boy). This event is one that happens regularly at Hugo's. You gather a group of people together (min. 35 – max. 80) and they are given aprons to wear and then the fun starts. We all watched as the experts showed us some 'bar flair" (remember the Tom Cruise and Bryan Brown movie Cocktail?) Then we were shown how to make mojito's (cocktails) - then we got the pizza demo. And what excellent pizzas. It's all in the thin crust and topping – to be spare - don't overload it.
We created pizza's and had to name them . . .this was a sensational day, funny, mastercheffish, gourmet informative and in a tasty way, a bonding experience.
Happy birthday Thai Airways International - and folks, although the flights are doing well - the destination is suffering due to recent events. But Thailand is so much more than Bangkok - see the next issue of Get Up & Go magazine for a story on the charming seaside town of Hua Hin. Sawasdee!
Picture above, from left: Peter Evans, Sue Marr (Marketing Manager Australia, Thai Airways International), moi and Paulie, the Pizza guy.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Art deco & ship shape

Cunard Line last week unveiled a signature marquetry panel masterpiece designed and made for its newest ocean liner, Queen Elizabeth, which will launch in October 2010.
Designed to take centre stage above the sweeping staircase leading up from the main deck in Queen Elizabeth’s soaring main lobby, the striking 5.6 metre-high panel depicts the original Queen Elizabeth, an Art Deco icon, using a variety of natural woods from around the world.
Cunard Line commissioned the company of renowned craftsman – and Her Majesty The Queen’s only nephew – David Linley to design and make the centrepiece, which will greet embarking passengers at the heart of the ship. Linley’s Chairman David Linley, who founded the company in 1985 and is the son of the late Princess Margaret and well-known photographer Lord Snowdon, said it was the largest screen the company had ever made.
“I recall my father saying the interior design on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth 2 made one proud to be British, so I am hoping our achievement on the new Queen Elizabeth will make him – and others - equally proud,” Viscount Linley said.
Pictured is the stunning panel in all its glory and David Lynley (right) and Peter Shanks unveiling the masterpiece.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cath the nature warrior

Ah, Port Macquarie. The over achiever of NSW’s ‘holiday coast’. It’s got heaps of beautiful beaches without Sydney’s populous crush. It’s got rolling green hinterland and lush lakelands. It’s got a new cultural identity with a flashy theatre, the Glasshouse. It’s got, in fact, pretty much everything, proud residents will tell you.
There’s something they’ll probably forget to mention about ‘Port’, though. It’s got soul.
It’s easy to miss. But right next to a droning main road in the heart of the town is an inauspicious entrance to a nature reserve of astonishing ecological importance. I’m no expert but eight different eco-systems co-existing on 50 hectares sounds like an awful lot to me.
And this lush pocket of life called Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park (which feels a world away from the bustling town) wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for an octogenarian called Cath La Page.
For about 25 years she has led a tireless team of volunteers who make up the Friends of Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park. Over the years the embattled society has managed to persuade the council preserve the area and stop it disappearing under concrete. Metre by metre, they’ve negotiated the undergrowth, added boardwalks and information signs, planted and weeded so that it lives on for the enjoyment of people like me.
As we walk around the area together, Cath guides me wisely through the eerie mangroves and sedge fields, shadowy casuarina groves with carpets of needles, rainforest and eucalypts, bringing every detail to life for me.
She knows every nook and cranny of this reserve she adores and is fiercely protective of it, swooping upon errant weeds and litter like a magpie.
When her time comes, Cath says, her daughter is going to scatter her ashes with her husband’s over her favourite spot in the park, so she’ll never be very far away. We don't think Cath's going anywhere for a while.
Amy Holgate writes for Get Up & Go on a regular basis, especially when she's been exploring Australia.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Top travel to Rotorua

Kia ora. Just arrived back from four amazing days in Rotorua, in the North Island of New Zealand. I was part of 100-strong NSW winners of a competition to indulge in either a Thrill Me, Free Me or Pamper Me package to experience what this wonderful city and region has to offer. There was every type of extreme sport/activity to be had and for me (Pamper Me of course) every type of sensory overload experience. Hot pools, cool pools, town water, geothermal water, massage, cruising, swimming, eating, eating, and did I mention eating? We all enjoyed a splendid Maori Cultural Show and ate an enormous buffet after - and let me tell you Pavlova has never gone out of fashion in Rotorua - they serve it, love it and make it so beautifully that I concede - it was invented in New Zealand!
Air New Zealand flies directly to Rotorua twice a week - so if you want a short break you can't go wrong heading across the ditch.
The panels on top of this page are all from the Rotorua trip - the long furry grass-like plants (sorry I don't know their name - do you? Comment now) are growing on the lawn of the elegant Solitaire Lodge; the ferns were an excuse for me to stop and take a photo on a bushwalk; the handsome heads feature in the library/games room at the divine Treetops Lodge and the fence post Maori artwork is at the end of the walk towards the city after leaving the Rotorua Museum.
Our featured Get Up & Go readers were winners and enjoyed the Pamper Me package too. And being Get Up & Go readers they get a special spot on the blog. Please meet Maria and Jeff Allen from Emerald Beach NSW. The other picture is of me taken looking into the window at Solitaire Lodge with the brilliant scenery in the background. More Rotorua stories to come in Get Up & Go magazine.
Oooh, I could do with another mud bath right now . . .

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Top 10 beach & sun destinations – can you beat these?

Tripadvisor's Travellers' Choice Destinations Awards – Top 10 Beach & Sun Destinations in the World following. But what have you got to say? If you have a favourite beach that is better than any of these I'll print it in the next issue of Get Up & Go.
1. Providenciales. I had never heard of them. They are the Turks Caicos Islands, part of the Bahamas Chain. I googled them and they look divine.
2. Tulum, Mexico – romance with an ancient angle - try the traditional Mayan massage.
3. Byron Bay, Australia – well, we know this one. Great lighthouse, sightings of whales, dolphins and sea turtles.
4. Cook Islands – remote and mysterious, only because we haven't been there yet! In the upcoming winter edition of Get Up & Go we are featuring the Cook Islands.
5. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (USA) – a family-friendly beach with many attractions nearby.
6. Huatulco, Mexico – not overdeveloped but the hotels are good and the beaches superb.
7. Negril, Jamaica – leave the sunny sands for crocodile watching or horseback riding.
8. Culebra, Puerto Rico – a bit of an anti-tourist destination, no flashy hotels but the beaches speak for themselves.
9. Boracay, Philippines – small enough to navigate by rented bicycle but size isn't everything - the beaches are spectacular.
10. San Diego, California – the classic Californian experience - boardwalk, beach volleyball and a classic amusement park.
I think the majority of voting for these top 10 sun & beach destinations came from American travellers.
C'mon Get Up & Go readers - show me what you know - and I know there are better beaches for us to compile a list. 'Huatulco, Mexico?' - wouldn't hold a candle to 90 mile beach in WA or Whitehaven in the Whitsundays, or . . . or . . .or . . .
The beach featured didn't make the list - just the family beach at Forster, NSW - not bad at all!
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Sunday, May 2, 2010

‘There’s nothing like Australia’

Tourism Australia is calling on all Australians to share their favourite Australian holiday moments to create a new tourism campaign that will help inspire the world to come see what makes an Australian holiday like no other.
Be the face, the heart and the soul of the campaign; to shine the spotlight on the best of the best destinations and experiences in your town, region or city. This is your chance to tell the world about travelling in Australia.

How to get involved
Residents, friends and travellers can tell Tourism Australia why your town, region or city is such an amazing holiday destination. They will need to complete the sentence: ‘There’s nothing like…’ in 25 words or less and upload their story along with a photograph to match their words at . By doing this, they’ll be helping to profile your town, region or city as an authentic Aussie holiday destination!

Tourism Australia will review all entries uploaded onto and submitted Australian holiday experiences might appear in future Tourism Australia advertisements. Imagine knowing that a story uploaded by one of your residents, friends or visitors is featured on a giant billboard, a banner advertisement, in a newspaper or a magazine either in Australia or somewhere else in the world! Now that’s something to brag about!
Tourism Australia will use all entries to create a new interactive map of Australia, made up of all the things Australians think are special about their country. It will be searchable by experience type, location, and by 1,000 keywords.

Our added incentive
By entering 25 word stories and photographs on until 12 May 2010 people could win one of eight $5,000 holidays and one $25,000 Aussie holiday.
Once the competition closes, the eight most inspiring and creative entries submitted (as judged by State and Territory Tourism Organisations) will be awarded a $5,000 holiday.
Australians will then have the opportunity to select, from the final eight entries, which one they consider represents the best “There’s nothing like” Australian holiday experience. The winning entrant will be free to create and enjoy an Aussie holiday of their choice to the value of $25,000.

Also, as an added incentive, during the until the 12 May 2010, via a promotion, we are giving away a daily prize every day to one lucky person who submits a story and photograph.