Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Vietnam Culinary Food for Thought

As tantalising as it sounds, Helen Wong’s Tours’ special 12-day Vietnam Culinary Delights itinerary has plenty to whet the appetites of food-loving travellers and budding chefs. the mature traveller has embraced foodie, culinary tours and this one is a corker!
Beginning in capital Hanoi, this new itinerary from Helen Wong’s Tours’ Premium Choice programs focuses on such delectable experiences as dining at La Verticale, set in a charming 1930s villa and owned by renowned chef Didier Corlou.
In contrast, travellers will join a local farming family to learn how to make an authentic specialty savoury pancake wrapped in rice paper, amongst a host of treats, and enjoy a simple home cooked meal.
There’s also a visit to a wet market in search of fresh ingredients for another fun cooking class which focuses on herbal remedies as well as step-by-step cooking techniques.
And if that isn’t enough, guests dine in one of Hoi An’s premier restaurants before moving to historic Hue to further tickle the taste buds at a private garden home.
There’s a farewell dinner at a fine dining restaurant in Saigon – the perfect finale to such a tasty tour during Helen Wong’s Tours 25th anniversary.
The 12-day Culinary Delights tour, which also spans across to breathtaking Halong Bay and Cai Be in the Mekong Delta, is priced from $4420 per person twin share from Australia.
Price includes return international flights, guaranteed five-star hotel accommodation, domestic air fares, daily breakfast and most lunches and dinners, specified transfers, sightseeing and entrance fees with English-speaking guide.
A Vietnam visa for Australian passport holders and $420 in departure taxes, security and fuel charges (subject to change) are also included along with a Helen Wong’s Tours travel kit and cabin bag. Visit: for details for Helen Wong's Tours.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

Train yarns . . .on the right track a tiny town called Thirlmere, just 90km south of Sydney is Trainworks, a fantastic complex that offers up Australia's newest (about to celebrate its first birthday) and biggest train experience. Even if you're not a train afficionado or worse! this museum is fascinating and not only displays the big, small, old, newish an unusual locos it tells much of the history of New South Wales and how it began to be connected by rail and traversed by tracks.
In the future I'll write up more of this museum but for now I want to share these lovely images.
One of my favourite things is 'yarn bombing' or 'knitting graffiti', see older blog posts on this subject. The local knitters here 'yarn bombed' various parts/extremities of the trains and on some of the exhibits. In a display case there's a piece of knitted toast, knitted sugar cubes; knitted 'eyes' with eyelashes on the buffers and on the big levers - cheery covers . . .love your work ladies and thanks for the marvellous museum - Trainworks.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Top 10 Green Travel Ideas in Mudgee

Mudgee is in the Cudgegong Valley in mid-west NSW.

Mudgee Region Tourism Inc has compiled a list of its ‘Top 10 Green Travel Ideas for 2012’ to encourage people to take a clean, green and environmentally friendly holiday in the region. Visit Australia’s first organic winery, go bird-watching, take a tour in a National Park, join a bike tour and stay in eco-friendly accommodation. To leave a low carbon footprint and feel good about saving the planet, try these ideas on for size:
1. Visit Australia’s first organic winery - Botobolar was Australia’s first certified organic winery and you can now visit its new cellar door and shop in town at ‘Botobolar Wine & Things Organic’
2. Go Bird-watching at Munghorn Nature Reserve - 35km north east of Mudgee this bird-watching area is home to 160 species including the rare Regent Honeyeater, lyrebirds and emus
3. Cycle with Green Pedal Tours - Mudgee’s flat, vine-covered landscapes are perfect for cycling and Green Pedal Tours run half to seven day guided or self-guided tours
4. Star Gaze at Mudgee Observatory - witness the wonders of the stars and distant galaxies, away from city lights, from the powerful telescopes at this unique spot
5. Stay at Goulburn River Stone Cottages - stay on the banks of a river in a self-contained timber and stone cottage, and soak up the sounds of native flora and fauna
6. Eat from within 100 miles at the Mudgee Farmers Markets - buy local and seasonal produce at the renowned Mudgee Farmers Markets held on the 3rd Saturday of every month
7. Walk from Rylstone to Kandos - a scenic seven kilometre path connects the two country villages of Rylstone and Kandos, pack a picnic with local produce and enjoy it by the river
8. Farm Walk and Wine Dinner at Lowe Family Wine - David Lowe is a wine guru and shares his knowledge and wine-making secrets on regular Farm Walks and Wine Dinners
9. The Drip at Goulburn River National Park - walk through a cathedral-like atmosphere at The Drip, a towering sandstone cliff-face dripping clear spring water into the rocky river bed
10. Dine at Market Street Café - this new café in town is a champion for sourcing locally and seasonal produce from within 100 miles including Ormiston Free Range Pork

The Mudgee Region is a 3.5 hour drive from Sydney in Central NSW or a 40 minute with Aeropelican.

To book any of these activities and for more information go to or contact the Mudgee Region Visitor Information Centre on (02) 6372 1020.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Where you should be travelling in 2012

According to Abercrombie & Kent's compilation of trends (hot list) of destinations for 2012 we should be thinking outside the box. Try these on for size:
Cuba - classic cars, Cuban cigars and an array of colonial attractions, romantic Havana - just the beginnings of discovery.
Mongolia - one of the last travel frontiers - think yurts, wild horsemen, nomads and dramatic landscapes - and imagine Genghis Khan.
Myanmar - beautiful, peaceful and unspoilt, Myanmar (Burma) has ancient culture, modern turbulent politics and beautiful, glistening temples.
Nepal - Boasting the world's highest mountains, beautiful, sweeping Himalayan scenery, mediaeval architecture and charming rural villages.
Orissa - traditional delights of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh await you. This is the star of East India.
Russia - still an intriguing and fascinating place to explore, Russia offers up a profusion of historic monuments and cultural attractions. For galleries and museums, St Petersburg is where it's at.
Tanzania - home of the famous Serengeti, Tanzania will appeal to first-time visitors to Africa and seasoned travellers alike. Great game viewing - with Africa's highest mountain and deepest lake.
Tasmania - quaint colonial villages, magnificent, rugged landscapes, pristine national parks, fine food and wine and brilliant boutique accommodation - and so close to home.
Uganda - the 'Pearl of Africa' is an unexpected pleasure. A spell at the Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp' offers you one of the best chances of an encounter with this amazing primate.
Have you discovered somewhere that is well worth exploring?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Still in South Australia

My previous blog, regaling the wonders of a B&B in South Australia - I called it Thorn Hill - THE NAME IS Thorn Park by the Vines, a couple of hours north of Adelaide towards Clare, and I misspelled Michael's name - his correct moniker is Michael Speers, and a lovely man too. I've added a couple of extra South Aussie pics to keep you keen.
Images - my favourite tree outside of Mintaro Maze and Gift shop - check out the trim! Breakfast at Thorn Park and some doughnut peaches at Adelaide Central Markets . . .