Showing posts from June, 2007

Bays at Leisure

for Australian Boating Whether it’s sailing, fishing, cruising or just relaxing, New Zealand’s Bay of Islands takes some beating. Roderick Eime explores from the deck of Oceanic Discoverer. The renaissance in small ship cruising has created renewed interest previously overlooked destinations in our region. Cruise itineraries were fast falling into the “same old” category with port visits to Fiji, Noumea and Vanuatu reappearing with monotonous regularity. Smaller, more versatile ships have allowed cruise lovers to explore and experience remote and shallow waterways previously the domain of private pleasurecraft. New Zealand’s glorious Bay of Islands is one boaties’ paradise now open to this new wave of pocket cruise ships. Cairns-based Coral Princess Cruises, who have operated small ship cruises for nearly twenty five years, expanded their sphere of influence substantially with the 2005 introduction of Oceanic Discoverer. Originally launched to bolster their small fleet in the bu

And the Winner is ... Australia

I dip my hat to our worthy cousins across the Tasman. Heaven knows they punch way above their weight in almost everything, but to overhaul us in the world tourism stakes may be a bit much. Even if just by sheer dint of our size, Australia packs a heavyweight’s slam when it comes diversity, international significance and outright size. The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, for example, has a block booking with Qantas (the world’s safest airline) to continue their long list of inscriptions in Australia. As it stands, Australia outnumbers New Zealand 16:3 in the World Heritage stakes, with two more slated for the next intake. Sounds like a rugby score, doesn’t it? Now I’m not about to slight the Māori, those handsome and powerful Polynesians from all over the Pacific, but Australia’s indigenous people were here first – by a long shot. Māori arrived on the untouched lands of Aotearoa just 1500 years ago, whereas our Aborigines were here well over 40,000 years ago. Their incredibly long

The Blue Tarp Resort

Consider the portable canvas option for your next road trip. After Mum and Dad told me their camping stories from the ‘50s, pitching a tent somewhere in the great Aussie outback was about the last thing I ever wanted to. But on a 4WD trip to Cape York recently, I rediscovered the primal joys of sleeping under canvas miles from the nearest streetlight or flush toilet. As you flick through the pages of your favourite travel magazine (yes, this one!) gazing longingly at the golden, palm lined beaches and the lush forest destinations, you might be thinking these exotic locations are the exclusive realm of the rich and famous. Maybe, not! Camping has long been a favourite Australian pastime and an accepted means of visiting places a long way from home without running up exorbitant hotel and resort bills. I’ll confess that on our tour to the “tip”, we mixed and matched our digs. From the glamour of swish Bloomfield Lodge, to a humpy on the beach at Munbah we truly experienced the extreme

Tourists in Trees

[for Get Up N Go] Tourists in Trees Shunning the popular mega ship experience, Roderick Eime disappears into the Alaskan wilderness for a taste of the true outdoors. The two mighty V8 engines erupt into a loud angry growl and the little jet boat begins to spin wildly in the rough white water. Passengers are screaming, hanging on for dear life as the scenery of sheer jagged cliffs and enormous boulders whiz past bare metres away. Then suddenly, we lurch to a violent halt, followed by a deluge over the stern that completely inundates those clinging desperately to the railings. "How's that?!" yells Jim from the shelter of the tiny wheelhouse. "Fantastic!" comes the exuberant reply from the saturated clients, still shaking the chilly mountain water from their hair and spray jackets. Skipper, Jim Leslie, is not a show-off, but after some gentle coaxing will execute a hair-raising '360' for the sheer thrill of it. Husband and wife team, Wilma and Jim

New Italian Mega Liner a Floating Pantheon

Passengers arriving aboard the brand new Costa Cruises flagship, Costa Serena , could be forgiven for thinking they'd walked into some Greco-Roman epic. Roderick Eime stows away for a glimpse of glamour cruising, Italian-style. Launched amid great fanfare in Marseilles on May 19, the 114,000 tonne, 1500-berth leviathan is the latest in the frantic Costa build programme that will bring the fleet to 15 vessels by 2010. Following her slightly smaller sister, Costa Concordia , she will be followed by the similarly massive, Costa Luminosa in 2008. Walking her twelve passenger decks, that make her as high as a 23-storey building, the overriding theme of classic mythology is overwhelmingly evident, over-the-top even. But chief designer, American Jo Farcus, makes no apologies. "I used the characters of classical mythology to create the sense of fantasy and escapism," asserts Farcus, "and each of the public spaces from the bars and restaurants to the casino and theatre

High Calorie Adventure; the World of Swiss Chocolate

All Aboard the Chocolate Express Think Switzerland and your shortlist should read watches, banks, Matterhorns, cheese and chocolate. Wrap all these in silver paper and put them in a fancy box and you have the Montreux-Bernese Oberland Railway, a privately-owned, beautifully restored Pullman Express. It’s a crisp clear summer morning at Montreaux station and the three “Belle Epoque” carriages are waiting with the expectant chocophiles milling about chatting excitedly in anticipation of this classic Swiss big day out. Built around 1915, the original narrow-gauge carriages have undergone an extensive and expensive restoration to bring them to pristine condition. “We had a lot of trouble getting the right wood, windows and fitting, because some of the original ones were broken,” says Niklaus, the tour guide with obvious pride. His perfectly tailored blue tunic and classic cap are in the same style and it’s clear he feels like the living part of the train. The Chocolate Train, is a mi

Awaken Macau

After almost 400 years of blissful colonial slumber, the new Special Administrative Region of Macau is already rivalling the world’s major leisure capitals. Macau Legend and History The fierce driving rain lashed the tiny boat and the seas rose and threatened to swamp it completely. Then suddenly the girl who had boarded at the last moment in such a hurry, stepped forth and commanded the tempest to cease. She was not simply a girl, but a goddess with an appointment with heaven. The crew gratefully put the girl, whose name was A-Ma, ashore in the port of Hoi Keang where she immediately strode to the top of a hill to keep her date with divinity. A temple was built in 1488 and is a focal point for tourists even today as the shrine of the Goddess of the Sea. Centuries later, when Portuguese sailors landed and asked the name of the place, the local inhabitants replied “A-Ma-Gao” (Bay of A-Ma). Thus, the peninsula was renamed. In modern usage, Amagao has shortened to simply Macau. Even

You could enjoy yourself in New Zealand, apparently.

I like New Zealand, I really do. There’s a certain charm to ordering ‘Fush un Chupps’ and you have to admire a country that sells us back their gutted, skinned and transformed feral animals at a premium price for us to wrap around our necks. But try as they might, our energetic cousins across the Tasman will only ever to aspire to what is on offer here in the big country. Sure, they can knock out a pretty fair Pinot, turn on a spot of skiing occasionally and field a half-respectable team of Rugby players, but in the real world New Zealanders are little more than respected try-hards and cottage industry experts. Now I can see steam building up behind the ears of some of our esteemed Kiwi cousins and they will be quick to remind us of that anomalous 1976 Olympic Hockey fluke (c’mon, hands up, who remembers?) and that perfectly legal one-day cricket win when brown trousers were still in style. But the true state of the world is quickly restored and one only has to look to the rece