Saturday snippets: 15th November 2014

By | Category: Travel news
Cape Tribulation YHA

a cabin at the YHA Cape Tribulation site; much better tucker than those celebs will be eating!

There seem to be lots of Australian stories this week apart from The PM, David Cameron, visiting in Brisbane. For a start, that show with unappetising food – “I’m a celebrity, Get me out of here” – begins tomorrow on television. It’s filmed in Murwillumbah in northern NSW. In Queensland, the state above NSW, you’ll find the World Heritage Listed Cape Tribulation and Daintree National Parks. And in Cape Trib there’ s yet another one of those amazing Youth Hostels of Australia hostels that is more like a hotel. Look at the picture. You won’t get fed witchetty grubs, locusts, fricasseed rats unmentionables and other things here.  They have a proper restaurant, a swimming pool, leisure activities and you get to enjoy a rainforest in all its splendour. For £14 a night. There will be some celebrities wh0 would pay ten times that to get decent food before long!

Staying with national parks for a moment, in NSW, a new one has been gazetted. The Government has purchased 1,700 hectares of Everlasting Swamp, a wetland in the Clarence River floodplains, to establish a new National Park combining it with the existing Everlasting Swamp State Conservation Area. The Everlasting Swamp and the adjacent Imersons Swamp form one of the largest coastal floodplain wetlands remaining in NSW. A “small” task awaits. Parts of the swamp have been invaded by feral pigs, weirs have been built to prevent salt water flowing in and cattle have turned some areas into temporary dustbowls.

The best sight of the week though must have been on Sydney Harbour when the sound of Cook Island drums and Pacific voices echoed as a flotilla of canoes from the Pacific Islands arrived for the International Union for Conservation of Nature Sixth World Parks Congress. (IUCN) It is the first time a fleet of traditional voyaging canoes has sailed to Australia, with crews embarking on a 6,000 nautical mile journey. The Mua voyaging canoes have navigated by the stars on the voyage from the Cook Islands, Samoa and Fiji to Coffs Harbour – and finally Sydney. No pictures from us unfortunately; we haven’t copyright approval to show them but click on the links above and you’ll see some.

Curtin Springs in the Northern Territory

Curtin Springs in the Northern Territory

The Northern Territory of Australia is pretty much true outback disturbed by just a few cities and cattle stations. One of those is Curtin Springs, a million-acre cattle station 100km from Uluru which is offering guided salt lake walks. Yes there is a dried salt lake system in the middle of the bush. The Curtin Springs Walks will offer one and two day guided walks along a vast and ancient salt lake system and, for the first time ever, gives visitors access around the base of Mt Conner, so often mistaken by tourists for Uluru. The 15km and 30km easy walking tracks take advantage of the changing light throughout the day and the effect it has on the salt lake surfaces, sand dunes and Mt Conner, which glows in shades of pastel pinks and purples, to fiery red at sunset. Walkers will also be able to hear all about life on a working cattle station as they pass two of the stations cattle yards.

This week saw the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and next year, Germany will celebrate 25 years of reunification. And it looks as though in the last quarter century we have visited the unified Germany to see the country.  Since 1993, when incoming tourism began to be statistically recorded for the country as a whole, the number of foreign visitors to Germany has more than doubled, increasing by 107.4 per cent.  The number of overnight stays by foreign visitors tripled this figure for Germany as a whole, increasing by 375 per cent, topped by Berlin’s most significant increase of 508.9 per cent in foreign visitors for 1993 to 2013. And it looks as though that growth has continued this year and will certainly do so next year.

In Bermuda, there is supposedly going to be some celebrities who will espouse the benefits of holidaying on the island – Michael Douglas and his wife, Catherine Zeta Jones. Douglas is part owner of a hotel complex. So the local tourist board has suggested they tell us about the island and he can probably mention the hotel complex at the same time! Nice to have someone else pay for your marketing but I suppose that’s what happens you get celeb status.

the Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham last year

the Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham last year

The first Christmas markets have opened over here. Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market and Craft Market opened on Wednesday and claims to be the largest outdoor Christmas Market in the UK. But Manchester’s Christmas Market is supposed to have twenty more so maybe that is the biggest overall. Whatever the arguments both will have pretzels, scnhitzels, bratwursts, and knoblauchbrot along with gluhwein, weissbeer, mulled cider, or less alcoholic hot drinks. Is there any city of a decent size that doesn’t have one these days?

Well, there is the Scottish Market in St Andrew Square in Edinburgh which starts next weekend and last until January 4th that is a bit different.  At least it makes a change from German delicacies. The Scottish Market is a winter showcase of some of the best craft, food and drink that Scotland has to offer. The treats available will include locally produced sausages, fresh seafood, Scottish brewed craft beers and unique chocolate alongside crafted jewellery, woodwork and the best Scottish accessories on offer. So why isn’t there a Welsh Christmas market and a south west England one or an Irish one all celebrating local foods. Why must Christmas be linked with German foods?

Is there no stopping our love for Croatia? When did I last say there was a slump in visitor numbers? Seemingly not for years. Croatia continues to attract British visitors now that the peak summer season is over. In October 2014, there were 23,824 UK visitors to Croatia, an increase of four per cent on the same period in 2013. There was also a large increase in Irish visitors during the same month with 2,041 arrivals, up 34 per cent on last year. From January to October 2014, Croatia saw a year-on-year increase in British visitors of 10 per cent, with 437,173 arrivals. There were also 46,470 Irish visitors between January and October 2014, a boost of 19 per cent compared to the same period in 2013. Next year Thomson will be increasingly the number of flights into the Croatian city of Dubrovnik so they have faith in there being more growth still to come. Incidentally the city also has a Christmas fair. It is held at Sponza Palace from the beginning of December until the very end of January. He country will concentrate on attracting us out-of-season over the next year pointing out this is an ideal time to see castles, go bird watching and enjoying sea fishing.

Flybe - which announced many more destinations and frequencies this week

Flybe – which announced many more destinations and frequencies this week

In airline news, Transaero have started a direct service linking Heathrow and St Petersburg in Russia. Initially the service will only fly on Wednesdays and Saturdays but given the enormous attractions of the city; the Hermitage Museum, the Winter Palace, Vyborg castle and the Icebreaker Krasin (which had over 90 years’ service) amongst dozens of other visitor draws – this could become a more frequent service. From December 14th, Air Europa will be flying from Gatwick via Madrid to Santa Cruz in Bolivia four times a week. TAP – the Portuguese airline is now based at terminal 2 at Heathrow. Flybe has announced it is to open a base at Bournemouth Airport in 2015. The low-cost airline says it will resume flights there at the end of March, initially flying to Glasgow. Flights to Amsterdam, Manchester, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Jersey, Dublin, Deauville (Normandy) Toulon and Biarritz will begin in May. It has also announced that it will operate a new service between the Isle of Man and Stansted from 15th of March. Finally British is to start direct flights from Heathrow to Krakow in May 2015.






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