November 21, 2013


Australians are known the world over for their quirky senses of humour and I can’t imagine any other country except Australia celebrating their national holiday, held to honour their land, with dunny races.

The celebration of the old Australian outdoor toilet is held each year on Australia Day, at the wonderfully crooked structure that is the Ettamogah Pub.  Other events held in previous years have included keg lifting and mullet tossing, but political correctness appears to have crept into the fun and in 2014 these events have been replaced by a tug of war and vintage car expo. The Ettamogah Pub is based on the cartoon creation of Ken Maynard which was regularly published in the now defunct Australasian Post.

GFF Festival 2012_046The Ettamogah Pub is located at Aussie World, a theme park featuring more than 30 rides and games in the Sunshine Coast suburb of Palmview.

Queensland’s Sunshine Coast has plenty to offer and entice visitors this summer.  With both Sunshine Coast Airport and Brisbane Airport providing easy access to coastal and Hinterland attractions, the region is an ideal holiday destination for short or long stays.

Although famous for having some of Australia’s finest beaches, that’s just the start of what’s available.

If festivals are what you enjoy, visitors can experience an eclectic mix of memorable holiday fun, less than 30 minutes drive from the coast, including the legendary Woodford Folk Festival running from 27 December to 1 January, the Ginger Flower & Food Festival from 17-19 January and on 26 January, the famous Australia Day Dunny Races at Ettamogah Pub.

The Woodford Folk Festival offers a range of ticket options so that holidaymakers can combine earthy folk with a traditional beach holiday. This year’s Festival features over 500 acts spread across 28 venues and six days. Highlights from the musical portion of the bill include Beth Orton, Tim Finn, Clare Bowditch, and Julian Marley. In addition, the GREENhouse venue will host environmental workshops, information sessions and debates, while The Parlour and the Bazaar will feature theatrical presentations including Hot Brown Honey Burlesque, sideshow stunt performers The Dirty Brothers, one-man murder mystery Birdmann, and Woodford’s annual game show the Festival of Fortune.

The Ginger Flower & Food Festival in January highlights one of the world’s most versatile plants. Ginger or ginger root is consumed as a delicacy, medicine or spice and the Sunshine Coast’s Ginger Factory located at Yandina, will be showcasing the plant’s remarkable role as both an essential ingredient to food and as a beautiful flower. There will be specialist workshops, demonstrations and tastings.  Children will enjoy it as much as their parents, with rides and entertainment plus a tasty array of ginger-infused smoothies, cordials and gingerbread men.

Just a short walk from the Ginger Factory is Nutworks & the Chocolate Factory that holds hands-on chocolate workshops throughout the holidays.

The Spirit House, also at Yandina, set in lush tropical gardens nestled around a tranquil pond, bubbling waterfalls and the sounds of nature, offers hands-on cooking classes and award winning contemporary Asian food throughout the summer break.

Sandra Tiltman 


November 19, 2013


A-ROSA’s distinctive white river ships are easy to spot on the European rivers, with their signature red rose painted on the side and another on the bow, held between a pair of luscious red lips.

Established in 2000, A-ROSA is a German company operating river boat cruises throughout Europe on the Rhône/Saône, Rhine/Mosel/Main and Danube rivers.

In 2013, A-ROSA began a partnership with David Morris International in which three of their ten ships, A-ROSA Stella, A-ROSA Silva and A-ROSA Aqua are devoted specifically to the English speaking markets, where English is the language onboard, although public signage is in English & German.

A-ROSA Stella was built in 2005 and sails France’s Rhone and Saone between Lyon and Arles, holding 174 passengers.

A-ROSA Aqua which cruises on the Rhine between Amsterdam and Basel was built in 2009 and holds 202 passengers.

The newest of the three river ships, A-ROSA Silva, was built in 2012 and holds 186 passengers, cruising the Danube between Passau and Budapest.

Xmas Markets 2The cruises on these three ships are dedicated 100% to English speaking guests and offer one of the most inclusive fares on the European rivers, from transfers to anytime cocktails and shore excursions.

David Morris International has been retained to oversee operations and curate unique on board experiences that will appeal to guests.

A-ROSA offers guests an informed, intimate experience of Europe’s most beautiful riverside cities, villages and landscapes. The sleek, streamlined ships have been designed not only to elegantly ply some of the world’s most historic rivers, but to offer guests a true sense of luxury, comfort and a feeling of home away from home.

The cruises will offer a range of shore excursions to explore castles, the countryside, vineyards and museums as well as some of Europe’s most exciting, dynamic and diverse cities from Budapest to Provence and everything in between.Itineraries are created specifically for active guests seeking cultural adventures and an opportunity to delve more deeply into passions like food, wine, art, music, and history.

“In 2014, A-ROSA will be one of the most inclusive river boats in Europe by including complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages throughout the ship, open dining, gratuities, a selection of shore excursions, ground transfers and taxes. The Australian market is seeking an all inclusive concept and A-ROSA will cater directly to their preferences” said David Morris, President of David Morris International.Guests can enjoy the ever changing views from their spacious, elegant cabins, most with French or full balconies. Modern facilities on board include a spa, sauna, gym, pool, jacuzzi and putting green.  Friendly and professional English speaking staff assist guests while on board and gratuities for the ship’s staff and all onshore guides are included in the price of the trip.

Meals featuring only the freshest ingredients are served daily in open sittings on board, while soft drinks, tea, coffee, beer, wine and spirits are available, for no extra charge, at open bars throughout the ship. A selection of complimentary shore excursions is provided and bicycles are available for guests who like to explore on their own.

It’s not too late to book for A-ROSA’s cruises to see the famous European Christmas markets.

Sandra Tiltman 


November 18, 2013
Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

If the thought of Christmas shopping makes you want to run away and hide until that man in the red suit, with the long white beard, has got back in his sleigh and headed home to the North Pole with his reindeers, help is at hand to take away all the stress.

Sydney’s Four Seasons Hotel has come up with the perfect solution to make Christmas shopping enjoyable.

Their “Indulgent Christmas Shoppers” package includes a $10,000 Westfield Sydney gift card, overnight accommodation in the Hotel’s luxurious Presidential Suite on the 34th floor, a Personal Shopper to collect the purchases from any retailer in Westfield Sydney, free delivery of the purchases to the Hotel and two hours exclusive use of the Westfield Sydney luxury suite with sparkling wine on arrival. Now that should take all the stress of Christmas shopping away.

Four Seasons Sydney Deluxe City Harbour View Room

Four Seasons Sydney Deluxe City Harbour View Room

Just in case you want to keep more money in your purse for buying extra gifts, an alternative is the Four Seasons “Christmas Shoppers” package which includes an overnight stay in a Deluxe City-Harbour View room, $100 Westfield Sydney gift card and buffet breakfast for two. The Westfield Sydney Concierge will organise the delivery of all the shopping to the Hotel.
A Westfield Sydney Privilege Card, with exclusive discounts and special offers across designer fashion, handcrafted jewellery pieces, luxury chocolates and artisan foods, as well as many more perfect Christmas gift ideas, is also included.

The Four Seasons Hotel Sydney offers stylish guest rooms and luxurious signature suites.  Their Aeon Spa is ideal for pampering those tired feet after all that shopping, but why just look after your feet, have a massage or a facial as well, or just relax by the hotel’s outdoor pool.  In case you get hungry after all that shopping, The Woods, located just off the hotel’s foyer, is open from 6.30 am to 10.30 pm.  Helmed by chef Hamish Ingham, The Woods, is the perfect spot for some of the city’s best cuisine, whenever you feel like something to eat, or even just a coffee and cake.

The “Indulgent Christmas Shoppers” package is available from 8-24 December and is priced from $15,000.  The “Christmas Shopping” package is available to book from 1 October – 24 December, with stays from 8-24 December and priced from $525 per night.  Details 9250 3100.

Sandra Tiltman 


November 18, 2013

Cycle Annapurna Cycling

Cycling has risen from being purely a recreational pursuit, to becoming a popular way to commute to work over the last few years, especially with the building of specialised cycle lanes in Sydney, linking many inner city suburbs to the city centre.   With the growth in all things cycle related, from shops selling the latest models of bikes to co-ordinated cycling fashion and weekend bike riding clubs there is now a tour company catering to cyclists wanting to keep the wheels turning on their holidays.

Cycle Tours Global, for cyclists who tour and tourists who cycle, has announced the most popular bike tours that are aimed to appeal to those who love travelling on two wheels.

According to website Cycle Tours Global, a comprehensive search engine for the best bike tours on the planet, topping the list of the five most popular bicycle tours around the globe, are cycle trips down the world’s deepest valley in the Himalayas, through Vietnam and along the European route of ancient military commander Hannibal.

Currently, the most popular bike tour on Cycle Tours Global is the “Annapurna Fun Ride”, a 10 day easy to moderate round trip from Kathmandu, Nepal.  This tour takes riders from the alpine meadows of the Himalayas, through Buddhist villages and downhill through the deepest valley on earth between the 8000m plus peaks of Annapurna and Dhalagiri. Operated by Snowy Horizon Adventure, the tour runs weekly from September to November and March to May each year and includes mountain bike hire, lodge accommodation, all meals on the bike expedition, B&B accommodation in Kathmandu, a farewell dinner and two flights within Nepal.

The second most popular tour is “Vietnam by Bike”, a 15 day easy to moderate bike trip starting in Hanoi and ending in Ho Chi Minh City. The tour includes Halong Bay, Hue, Nha Trang and rides through the western highlands and paddy fields of Vietnam, visiting local villages. Including bike hire, 32 meals, snacks, fruit and water while in the saddle, hotel accommodation, an overnight train and a domestic flight in Vietnam, the tour is run by World Expeditions throughout the year.

Third in popularity is the “Hannibal Expedition”, a 27 day, 2400km moderate to advanced ride from Barcelona to Rome, tracing the epic 218 BC warpath of one of history’s greatest military commanders, Hannibal Barca, who led the ancient superpower of Carthage in a bloody battle against Rome. Feted as one of the world’s best bicycle routes, the tour takes riders over the Pyrenees, French Alps and the Apennines through some of the most beautiful cycling areas in Europe including Catalonia, Provence, Piedmont, Tuscany and Umbria. Operated by Ride and Seek Bike Tours in September 2014, includes accommodation and almost all meals.

The fourth most popular bike tour is a 7 day “Lot Valley Vistas and Villages” tour in France and the fifth is an 8 day “Loire Valley Bike and Barge” holiday.

Cycle Tours Global was launched this year by avid Australian cyclist, Bruce Robertson, as a hub for bicycle tours around the world.  For details of all tours  http://www.cycletoursglobal.com    Sandra Tiltman 


November 18, 2013
Sandra Tiltman enjoying Emirates Business Class (no seat rage here)

Sandra Tiltman enjoying Emirates Business Class (no seat rage here)

The results of a recent survey by Skyscanner, a leading global travel search site, have revealed that nine out of ten air travellers want to say goodbye to reclinable seats on flights.  And I thought it was just me who hated having the person in front of me recline their seat, so I virtually had their head in my lap.

Skyscanner recently polled over 1000 travellers, as well as over 900 international cabin crew and the results show that I am not alone in my dislike of those who recline, with 91% of travellers saying that seat reclining should be banned, or at least allowed only during set times on short haul flights. The survey also found that 43% felt even long haul flights should implement set times for when passengers are permitted to recline their seat.

60% of cabin crew from around the world reported either being involved in, or having witnessed, heated arguments between passengers on the very touchy subject of reclined seats.

Psychologist Dr Becky Spelman (UK) offers some explanation as to why reclining seats increasingly fuel passenger air rage. “It’s partly because there are two general personality types while travelling” said Dr Spelman. There’s the “Altruistic Soul”, who is considerate of others and the “Selfish Ego”, who will look to increase their own comfort at the expense of others.

What the survey found is an alarming amount of “Selfish Egos” amongst the crowd, with 70% of people admitting they would still recline when sitting in front of a pregnant woman and 80% saying they would not care if the person behind was elderly or frail. Women aged from 18-24 were the most likely to display “Altruistic Soul” tendencies, while men over the age of 35 were more likely to exhibit “Selfish Ego” characteristics.

Almost a third of those surveyed said that someone’s reclined seat had caused them major discomfort and 3% revealed that they had even suffered an injury.

“A reclined seat can negatively impact upon a person’s overall flight experience, especially if the person in front is being particularly inconsiderate” said Dr Spelman.

Economy seating where sometimes air rage occurs

Economy seating where sometimes air rage occurs

The survey also found that a third of passengers played safe when travelling, with 64% admitting they had never reclined their seat because they were too worried about the reaction they would receive.

When making flight reservations, I always try to book a seat in the front row so I can avoid the seat recliner. Of course this is not an issue when travelling Business Class in one of the newer aircraft, like the Emirates A380 Airbus, where seats are encased in their own pod and the individual lie flat seats do not impact on other passengers.

Children on planes also seem to be a target for air rage, with another recent survey showing a high percentage of those surveyed indicated they would be in favour of child free flights, or child free zones on planes.  Many said they would be prepared to pay extra for the added comfort of being able to enjoy their flight in a child free section of the plane.  Singapore’s Scoot Airlines has taken the lead in introducing child free planes.  I hope other airlines will soon follow this example and introduce child free zones, allowing travellers without children to enjoy their flight in peace and quiet.

Sandra Tiltman 


November 18, 2013

3 baby faces

To celebrate the return of its 100th rescued and rehabilitated orangutan to the wild, Borneo Orangutan Survival Australia is hosting a public event emceed by BOS ambassador, Triple J presenter and animal rights activist, Lindsay McDougall on Thursday 28 November at The Forresters, 336 Riley St Surry Hills from 6pm – 9pm. Tickets are available at http://www.orangutans.com.au for $25 per head, including food and drinks. All proceeds will go to Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation.

The event will highlight the continued plight of Borneo’s endangered orangutans and provide insight into BOS’s world-first release program that has seen 100 rescued orangutans rehabilitated and released back into protected Bornean forest in the past 18 months.

With a further 600 orangutans still in BOS sanctuaries awaiting their return to freedom, the event aims to raise much needed funds to support this landmark program and help return these magnificent creatures to the wild.

Sandra Tiltman