Etihad Airways to fly the world’s best chefs Down Under

Etihad Airways has been chosen by Tourism Australia as the official airline of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards, the prestigious celebration of the best of all things food and drink that has chosen Melbourne as its host city for the April 2017 ceremony. Etihad will be flying in critically acclaimed chefs and food media to the event, where Australia’s impressive food and wine culture will be on display for locals and tourists visiting the beautiful city.

It is a logical partnership with Etihad Airways, which is known for its strong reputation in top quality dining – in fact, Etihad has taken inspiration from elite restaurants to change how airline dining is viewed.

“[Etihad Airways] have truly embraced our Restaurant Australia campaign and are a natural choice as airline partner for a culinary event of this stature,” said John O’Sullivan, Tourism Australia Managing Director.

The collaboration reinforces Etihad Airways’ commitment to Australia; in 2015, the airline signed a five-year, $30 million investment in Australian tourism.

“Australia is world-renowned for the exceptional quality of its food and wine offering and the diversity of its culinary experiences. Bringing the world’s culinary elite to Australia next year to experience its food and wine culture first-hand will further enhance Australia’s reputation as one of the world’s best holiday destinations,” said Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ CEO.

The airline employs chefs with extensive professional experience to ensure guests are receiving the best meals and hospitality possible. In First Class, meals are tailor-made for each person, and chefs have access to an abundance of fresh ingredients. Business Class gets quality service too, and chefs prepare healthy, innovative meals.

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards will take place in Melbourne, Victoria, from 1-7 April. It promises to be a unmissable occasion for lovers of gastronomy all around the world.


Port Douglas: a culinary centre in the heart of the tropics

If you’re planning a personalised Australia holiday, and you’re venturing to the North of Queensland, don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore the incredible eateries of Port Douglas. This bustling town located in the heart of the tropics is making a name for itself in the world of food and drink. Whatever your tastes, you’re guaranteed an incredible culinary experience.


What to eat in Port Douglas

Port Douglas, or Port as it’s affectionately known by the locals, owes its gastronomic flair in part to its geographical location. Nestled close to the Atherton Tablelands, the chefs in this area have first refusal on the finest organic produce going. It’s no wonder the results are outstanding when you’re presented with a plate of food at the local restaurants. Fruit and vegetables grow in abundance here, and it’s also advisable to keep your eyes peeled for macadamia nuts, coffee and dairy products on the menu.

There are a handful of award-winning, exclusive restaurants dotted around the town. If you want to eat in one of the high-profile joints in the area, it’s always wise to book in advance. People come from far and wide, such is the reputation of Port Douglas’ chefs, so there can be lengthy waiting lists.

Despite its local specialities, you’ll find everything from seafood restaurants to alfresco Italian diners. You’ll pay a premium for waterfront views, but it’s worth pushing the boat out for a special occasion.

Breakfast and brunch are big business in Port Douglas, and there are dishes to suit everyone. Start your day with a vitamin-packed smoothie or indulge in a pancake stack complete with fresh fruit and sugary syrup. If you’re keen to make the most of local produce, a macadamia milk cappuccino comes highly recommended.


Where to eat

If you’re travelling to Port Douglas, you’ll find a host of reviews and recommendations in travel guides and you can also read online blogs. If you’re staying in a hotel, local knowledge often proves invaluable, so don’t be afraid to ask around for the best spots in town.


Port Douglas has become a major player on the foodie scene. If you’re heading that way, stop off for a healthy lunch, an indulgent dinner or a hearty breakfast to set you up for the day ahead. There are plenty of outdoor activities on offer in the surrounding area to burn off those excess calories, so don’t worry about your waistline too much!

The unique glow of the Blue Mountains

You might think that the Blue Mountains was a name given to add a bit of intrigue to these Australian peaks – a marketing ploy to attract visitors to the area. But it’s entirely true: the mountains really do take on a spectacular blue hue when the sun catches the oil that sits above the eucalyptus trees covering the area, giving the vistas you will see when visiting the area a uniquely magical aura.

Found in New South Wales just west of Sydney, the area has long been inhabited by Aboriginal communities, whose creation story tells that two creatures fought an epic battle that left this landscape with a great scar – the Jamison Valley that cuts through the mountains.

The platypus, the koala and the long-nosed potoroo are all to be found here in the Blue Mountains, and here are three ways to spend time in the fantastic environment they call home.


Three sisters

To call the Three Sisters a rock formation would be to do a disservice to one of the Blue Mountains’ most famous landmarks. These three shapes jutting out into the azure hues of the sky are iconic, featuring in Aboriginal folklore and drawing thousands of visitors. One of the most rewarding ways to see the rocks is a bushwalking trail that starts at Echo Point and passes the Three Sisters before descending in spectacular fashion down the The Giant Stairway to the valley floor.

Katoomba scenic railway

A 52 degree incline – sound steep for a railway? You’re not wrong – this is the steepest passenger railway in the world, and it offers one of the most dramatic vantage points over the mountains. The train carriages themselves are equipped with glass roofs and their course descends through a cliffside tunnel before emerging triumphantly into the open air of the rainforest. The train runs every 10 minutes and you can head off among the trees to explore direct from where the doors open at the end of the journey.

Jenolan Caves

The Blue Mountains rise above one of the largest underground limestone cave systems in the world, very accessible to tourists yet still with undiscovered corners not yet mapped out by humankind for you to explore. The Jenolan Caves are known as Dark Places by the Gundungurra tribe, but the concerts that are held here twice monthly will be an illuminating revelation for classical music enthusiasts. With the caves staying at an ideal 15 degrees celsius all year round and decorated with sparkling crystals which occur naturally in the stone, a guided tour of these caves is not to be missed.

A wine weekend in South Australia

More than half of the bottles coming out of Australia are lovingly made in the South of the country, so it follows that heading there to spend a weekend wallowing in some of the best  wine around is one of the best decisions you might ever make.

With its sheer size comes a huge variety of climates and terrains, the key to the dazzling variety of wine that you can try on a weekend spent in South Australia: taking in a refreshing Riesling on one day and sipping a punchy Shiraz is very possible here thanks to the region’s spectacular geographical diversity.

1836 was the momentous year that John Barton Hack planted the first vine in Adelaide, and it’s fair to say that winemaking really took off from that moment on. Just 7 years later, the region was producing wine fit for a queen: a case made in nearby Echunga springs was sent to Queen Victoria by George Stevenson in 1843.

In fact, the Adelaide Super Zone as it is known is a great place to start on a tasting adventure Down Under. This area encompasses the Barossa Valley that is one of the most prestigious winemaking regions in all of Australia, where world-famous Shiraz can be found. Base yourself in the beautiful city of Adelaide, which has 200 cellar doors on its doorstep.

You’ll feel highly content with life in general as you bask in the sunshine of the Barossa with a glass in hand. The valley is home to the Jacob’s Creek estate, which is the most famous export of the Australian wine industry. See where all the magic has been happening for the 160 years that wine has been in production here in amongst the vines and you’ll appreciate it even more the next time you sit down to savour a glass. The area itself is outstandingly beautiful: a conservation project launched in 1997 replaced all non-indigenous flora with stunning blue and red gum trees, giving it a quintessential Aussie feel that is a pleasure to stroll through.

If you’re keen to see the sights as well as taste the wine, a sensible option for the traveller without the luxury of time to venture out to multiple vineyards is a wine bar walking tour of the city. A quick way to learn more about the unique tastes of the region’s wine, all while out and about on the streets of this vibrant city and trying some of its best nibbles too.

First ever rock-art investigation reveals bumper discoveries

The first ever survey of indigenous rock art sites in the Kimberley region of Western Australia has revealed that there are more than 30,000 pieces of art to be found in that region alone.

This bumper crop of artwork documented by the investigation Down Under, which is being run by the University of Western Australia in conjunction with the Balanggarra people and the Balanggarra Indigenous rangers, features a large number of the distinctive elongated spirits known as Gwion figures that have become the hallmark of the area’s rock art.

The remoteness of many of the sites in this landscape means that even some of the indigenous population’s elders had not set eyes on these artistic treasures until relatively recently. Balanggarra elder Ambrose Charlameri, who did not see the Gwion figures until he was 55, explained the significance of the art in the context of his people’s cultural history.

“Rock art is part of the story and part of history for us… it was put there a long time ago. It came to be very important when we were old enough to understand what it was for,” he said.

Cas Bennetto, Chief Executive of financial contributors to the project The Kimberley Foundation, explained the aims of setting out to formally catalogue the art in the Kimberley.

“It is perhaps our most significant Indigenous cultural asset and then as a body of art it is unique. It is perhaps the largest figurative body of art to survive anywhere in the world. Our aim is to build up a body of understanding…so that we can understand the story of Australia’s earliest settlement history. And we think that should be known,” she said.