Thursday, 22 March 2018

Major Tasmanian tourism development planned by cheese producer

Ashgrove Cheese plans to create a major food-tourism drawcard at Elizabeth Town in northern Tasmania after securing a Regional Jobs and Investment Packages grant from Canberra.

The business received $565,000 and will invest $620,000 to construct and fit out a $1.19 million state-of-the-art "dairy door" and visitor complex.

Ashgrove's Project Manager, Anne Bennett, told The Burnie Advocate that the proposed visitor complex would help the dairy producer to capitalise on its position on the Cradle To Coast Tasting Trail, one of a number of wine and food trails on the Apple Isle.

“[The grant] enables Ashgrove to really bring forward a flagship project that we’ve had on the cards for two years," she said. "It will develop the Ashgrove Cheese shop into an iconic northern Tasmanian tourist destination.”

The new centre will almost double the footprint of the existing shop and factory with experiential, retail, food and outdoor areas linked directly to the farm.

“We are going to bring the farm alive inside the building, using technology like virtual reality, augmented reality and cow tracking,” Bennett said.

Company chairman Paul Bennett said: “The planning has already started. We’ve drawn up plans and will be underway as soon as council and government criteria have been met.”

The project will create an estimated 40 construction jobs and add 14 full-time equivalent roles to Ashgrove's operations once complete.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Airline bans fat passengers and infants from its new business class seats

Obese passengers and parents with infants have been banned from flying business class on Thai Airways' new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners "for safety reasons".
The Thai national carrier added the two Boeing Dreamliners to its fleet in September last year and the aircraft manufacturer has installed new airbags on seat belts for business class seats,The Bangkok Post reported.

This meant that passengers with a waistline of over 56 inches (142.24cms) could not fasten these new seatbelt airbags, which meet US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety standards, Flt Lt Prathana Pattanasirim, vice-president of THAI’s aviation safety, security and standards department told the newspaper. 
Passengers in those seats also could not carry infants on their laps. 

The airbags are designed to protect passengers in case of an accident. Routes flown by the new Dreamliners include Bangkok-Auckland and Bangkok-Taipei. 

The perfect vacation trip for any beer lover?

Is this the perfect holiday choice for anyone who loves beer? 

Tauck has just announced details of its new 10-day Autumn Along The Rhine river cruise for 2019, which just happens to coincide with Munich’s Oktoberfest. 

There are only two departure dates: September 16 and September 24, 2019, which gives you plenty of time to get your act together. 
The trip will combine a seven-night river cruise on the Rhine with a two-night land stay in the heart of Munich to experience the world’s largest Oktoberfest celebration.

Destinations and sightseeing will include: Amsterdam, Dusseldorf, Heidelberg, Strasbourg and the Alsace region, Lucerne and Munich and the beer festival. 

Highlights include a craft beer walking tour of Düsseldorf’s Old Town highlighting local craft beers, a beer pairing at an award-winning brewery in Heidelberg and visits to winstubs 

(traditional beer pubs) in the Ribeauville/Riquewihr in Alsace. 

There is also reserved seating for lunch in one of the traditional brewery tents at the Oktoberfest.

The 10-Day Autumn Along The Rhine…Munich’s Oktoberfest cruise is priced from $8590 per person twin share.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Sydney's colourful Vivid Festival returns for a 10th year

The world's largest festival of light, music and ideas, Vivid Sydney, will return in 2018 with a spectacular new precinct at Luna Park, the return of the much-loved Customs House, and a blend of everyday objects and Australian-inspired motifs on the sails of the Sydney Opera House.

Vivid will run over 23 nights from May 25 to June 16 and will paint Australia's largest city in the colour and spectacle of Vivid Light, take over Sydney stages with Vivid Music's electric performances and collaborations, and provide a global forum for thought-provoking debate and creative discussion at Vivid Ideas.

Vivid Sydney is owned, managed and produced by the NSW Government's tourism and major events agency Destination NSW and in 2017 attracted a record-breaking 2.33 million attendees.

Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Adam Marshall said in a mind-numbingly dull press release: "Vivid Sydney has delighted and inspired people from around Australia and the world. With the festival now in its 10th year, visitors and locals alike can once again expect to be mesmerised by the Vivid Sydney program, with larger installations and a gripping Music and Ideas offering, so I encourage visitors to start planning their trip early to get the most out of this year's exciting line-up."

For the first time, Vivid Sydney's light walk will extend to a new precinct at Luna Park Sydney, where the iconic amusement park comes alive with large-scale projection on the facade of Coney Island. 

The show will celebrate the history, magic, creativity, engineering, fantasy and imagination that have come together to create millions of memories on the site. Luna Park's iconic ferris wheel will be lit for the festival following an LED refit.

Vivid Sydney's bright lights will also illuminate the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney again in 2018.

In celebration of their 100-year anniversary, May Gibbs' iconic and immortal characters, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and their stalwart companions will come to life on the façade of Customs House, while, as usual, all eyes will turn towards the World-Heritage listed Sydney Opera House at the centre of the Vivid Light Walk for Lighting of the Sails, to be created in 2018 by award-winning Australian artist Jonathan Zawada.

Other buildings which will once again be transformed, including the facade of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) with Virtual Vibration.

Popular precincts Taronga Zoo, Darling Harbour, Chatswood, Barangaroo and Kings Cross will all return in 2018.

Vivid Music ups the ante in 2018 with an electric line-up, from noise to jazz, sonic experimentation to soul. Highlights include a one-night-only performance by Grammy award-winning St. Vincent, as well as jazz maestro Branford Marsalis and chanteuse Madeleine Peyroux.

Vivid LIVE at the Sydney Opera House will host a stellar line-up. Highlights this year include American pop icons Mazzy Star, the "godfather" of West Coast rap Ice Cube and acclaimed '90s indie rock singer/songwriter Cat Power. A line-up clearly put together by someone in their fifties or sixties.

For full dates and details see

Barging through Burgundy - sounds like the ultimate vacation

I've been lucky enough to enjoy river cruises and ocean cruises and much prefer to travel by river than sea. 
I've never managed, however, to travel on a luxury barge through a wine region - which sounds to me like heaven on earth. 
This musing was prompted by a press release from hotel barge cruising specialist European Waterways, announcing the completion of a $500,000 upgrade and refurbishing program across the company's fleet as it prepares to launch its 2018 season. 

The upgrades addressed every aspect of the company's hotel barges, from the operation of the vessels themselves, to the dining, entertainment and sleeping areas, as well as the off-shore transportation of its guests, who are treated to daily guided excursions.
The company's latest upgrades include a complete redesign of the saloon for the 12-passenger L'Impressionniste hotel barge, which cruises Southern Burgundy. The hotel barge also received a new staircase, bar area, banquettes, and an oval dining table to help create more space and seating. 
The eight-passenger L'Art de Vivre, which cruises Northern Burgundy, was upgraded with new bathrooms, while the Anjodi, an eight-passenger vessel on the Canal du Midi, was fitted with a new hardwood sundeck to complement a new saloon last year. Deck furniture has also been upgraded across many of the vessels.
This all set me dreaming of a leisurely week or two on the waterways of France, coffees and wines at waterside auberges and visits to some of the great cellars of Burgundy. 
I can't recommend this company, but I do like the concept.
“It's the small details that make the difference between a good vacation and a great one,” said Waterways Europe managing director Derek Banks. “Once we have the engineering work completed, we are free to focus upon the exclusive, personalized service that our guests adore."
European Waterways' luxury hotel barges in Scotland, which cruise Loch Ness and the Great Glen between Inverness and Fort William on the Caledonian Canal, have been spruced up for the new season.
Founded nearly 40 years ago, the company owns, operates and markets a private fleet of luxury hotel barges with cruises in France, Italy, Scotland, Ireland, England, Germany, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg. For more information visit

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Yes, you can have a beer, but first give me your shoe

Belgian beer glasses are so desirable that local bars lose thousands of dollars each year through theft.
Now two bars have taken action to stop the glasses going walkies; one installing a €4,000 security system and the other asking for customers shoes as a deposit.

Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reports theft has reached absurd proportions.

At the Beer Wall in Bruges, owner Philip Maes told the paper that his establishment loses “at least 4,000 [glasses] each year”.

“The tourists, especially, like to walk with them,” he added. “For some reason, the customers think that when they pay for something to drink, they get the glass as a present.”

To counter the glass thieves, Maes has attached small security alarms to each glass and  installed a €4,000 alarm system with a scanner at the door.

Another beer bar, Dulle Griet in Ghent, demands drinkers hand over a shoe as a deposit before being served a glass of house beer. 

“We then put them in a basket that we put up against the ceiling," said spokesman Alex Devriendt. "The basket has now become an attraction, but for us it remains a guarantee. The glasses are quite expensive because we have them made especially for us and tourists simply want a souvenir."

Belgians take their beer glasses very seriously and consider it particularly important that beer is served in the appropriate glass. Tourists simply like to nick stuff. 

Bee Hydrated - a thirst quencher that does you good

Australians don't drink enough water - so much so that many of us are in a permanent state of dehydration. 

According to Water Logic Australia, the average Australian only drinks 1.29 litres of water per day – which, for men and women alike, barely reaches half the recommended daily intake.

When we do choose to imbibe we often choose sweet fizzy drinks, or waters that use artificial sweeteners. 

Proper hydration is the cornerstone to maintaining optimal daily health and energy levels - but we often overlook its importance.

Enter Melbourne-based sisters Joanne and Marina Nikoloulea, who have combined together a "healthy dream team" of purified and mineralised water with 100% natural cold-extracted Australian honey to create Bee Hydrated Honey Water (clever name!). 

Containing just 3 grams of naturally occurring sugar per 100ml, Bee Hydrated blows many fruit juices and even coconut waters out of the water (joke) with its low-sugar content. 

The range boasts three flavours and comes in 100% recyclable bottles. 

Relieve is a combination of pure cold-extracted honey with orange blossom 
and cinnamon to promote a good source of calcium, iron and magnesium while providing a calming and relaxing effect on the central nervous system. 

Replenish (by far my favourite flavour and most thirst-quenching) is a blend of pure cold-extracted honey with lemon myrtle and green tea for a source of antioxidants and other phytonutrients to help replenish the mind, body and soul, while Revitalise includes pure cold-extracted honey, ginger and ginseng to aid in revitalising the metabolism while helping to strengthen the protective function of our immune system.

All stockist details and locations can be found at